all problems are in your own mind

All problems are in your own mind. We cannot escape the
prison of our subjectivity, that which conditions the world. The error is to
misattribute the colors our mind paints to the world-in-itself. This is why
silencing the anarchy within is peaceful: in degrees it shows an ever more
objective picture of the world. It is a tricky balance to understand
objectivity within subjectivity, but it is possible, though subtle. It is
remarkably illuminating when the rays of the larger view of the world penetrate
through to the little enclosure within which we reside cramped. We will start
to see that necessity with which every extant thing is brought into being. Reality
is infinite, but we yearn to carve a piece of it out for ourselves and call it
‘me’ and ‘mine’. In the process we lose sight of the grand scheme of things,
and are misled into Schopenhauer’s ‘practical egoism’ of which he admonishes
all of us.
I am brought to this discussion because of the seemingly
inevitable relapse into the old delusional thoughts that I am constantly
subjected to, much to my deepest dismay. In starting to write this, I had
intended to discuss the strange way in which my social interactions have always
been exactly the same all the while my mind has been changing, and the natural
way I had viewed this as a change in the interactions as opposed to a change in
my mind. A trivial event jolted some dormant memory into activation yesterday
and reminded me of the cycles that spin eternal. How do we grow, yet
continually come back to where we began? I believe it must be like a spiral,
and that the complexity of life allows for multiple dimensions, some of which
are involved in growth and others that oscillate indefinitely. Regarding the
events in the external world, there is a trail of clues that we may choose to
follow that reveals to us the hidden patterns in time. This is accompanied by
the realization that there are greater powers guiding the unfolding of this
cosmic story that far surpass our claustrophobic entrapped little minds. The
tides continue to ebb and flow, and as my social tendencies are on the upswing,
I have noticed an increase in the kinds of judgmental thoughts that attempt to
infer what other must be thinking of me and what impression I must have made on
them during our chat. I become preoccupied with making sure that the image I
paint of myself in their minds is consistent with the image that I have of
myself in my own mind. But when I notice myself doing this, I become deeply
disturbed by it due to my knowledge that this is a complete and utter waste of
time as well as a thorn that torments my mind. Again, the source of this
preoccupation lies in my desire to secure a little piece of the world for
myself, and the discernment that much in the world is out of my control and
depends on others. Therefore it follows that I should make sure others do not
think ill of me, lest they prey on me and destroy my chances of having a
comfortable and easy life in this boiling cosmic ocean. But the delusion in
this kind of thinking is assuming that I can ever even approach a true judgment
about others’ thoughts, encased as they are in their prison of bone and blood. Frequently
I have been shocked to witness the vast contrast between what I had inferred
about someone’s mind and their revelation as to its true contents, as when I
directly ask about them. Although sometimes my judgments have been close to
accurate, even proving this requires an inference, and in the final analysis it
will be found that one can never actually know the contents of anyone else’s
mind and must resign oneself to a sort of carelessness in behavior.
In short, what I am advocating is the return to the
innocence of childhood. At that time before theories of mind, the very thing
whose influence leads to such anguished thoughts and emotions, though it is
helpful and necessary even for the navigation of the complex social
environment, the child was comfortable and unassuming. How do I balance out my
statement that we must return to the time before theory of mind with my
counter-claim that it is helpful and necessary even? It is a difficult and
subtle balance, which maybe words cannot even articulate. Perhaps the best path
to trod would be to temper these judgments with the realization of their extreme
fallibility, using them as working assumptions not taken to be literally true
but only as guides. Also, it is specifically inferences about others’ thoughts
about me that I condemn here and not necessarily all inferences about others’
thoughts. Many cases will arise where I will need to infer someone’s thoughts
in order to choose the best course of actions, as when someone may have
misunderstood something which may lead them to harm, in which case it is my
duty to correct their error when I have clearly perceived this. But again, this
perception itself may be flawed at its root and may sometimes cause even
greater misunderstanding and lead to even greater harm.
I just want to return to the opening sentence of this whole
discussion: all problems are in your own mind. It feels like that is a very powerful
statement. Wittgenstein says something similar to this when he says, “The world
of the happy is quite different from the world of the unhappy”. If only the
mind could be brought to a positive outlook the world itself would take on a
positive appearance, such is its tremendous power. The mind conditions the
whole world of appearances. Therefore, the most important thing for me right
now is to cultivate the good-natured qualities of my mind and to learn how to
put my mind at ease no matter what condition of the external world it
apprehends. And fortunately this is exactly what the meditation that I practice
achieves. So, continue and grow, little one. 

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