When people come to see me they hope to solve a problem. It is possible to solve certain orders of problem. For example, you can make a decision. With your decision you hope to make the best choice and you understand that you may be eliminating certain options that were also attractive. For example, you buy a house, or marry a particular partner, or decide on a degree program for your education. In each of these cases you solve a problem with a decision. What you cannot do by decision is retain all options. Nor, ultimately, would you want to. You marry a particular person in part because a monogamous relationship with one person seems richer to you than relationships of less depth with many.
There is a dark side to every decision. The options which you don't affirm in making the decision are lost. The other person, the other career, the other house. You accept this loss because you are making a bid for satisfaction along particular lines.
Other difficulties don’t yield to decision alone. Let’s say you have contradictory interests, or the decision you are required to make by circumstance will eliminate something that is very important to you. You love a particular person, but in order to be with that person you have to live in a place you hate and leave a place you love. The conditions are such that you cannot have both the things you want. If you are not able to transcend or abandon one of these desires you become depressed. Depression is just the psychic aspect being “stuck” wears. Such a situation is truly painful, but it is not the one I want to address, because even in this case the remedy is decision, if a painful one.
The problems that I want to address are even trickier. The root of these problems are your way of seeing. Your way of seeing is constitutive. In other words, the very mind that is trying to escape the problem is itself a case of the problem that it tries to escape.
I once saw a show that illustrated this point nicely. The main character was a paranoid man who spent years building an underground shelter in case of a nuclear holocaust. At a certain point in the movie, he believes the holocaust has begun. Frantic to find his family, he is forced, finally, to take shelter himself without them, and seals off the communication with the world. As the story ends, we see him with his supplies prepared to live out the fate he has so feared. What the audience knows that he doesn't is that he brought it on himself. Outside of his shelter the conditions of life are as they always were-green trees, fresh food, and so on. It was his mistaken understanding of what was happening that caused him to imprison himself in his shelter. He believes he is the lone survivor, but his family mourns him from outside.
Although not a perfect fit, this story suggests what I am trying to describe. In my example the man’s paranoia becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Attitudinally the man saw a holocaust. There wasn't actually a holocaust, but because his mind was prepared to see it, he did and his life unfolded accordingly. Mind form is like that, but it is much more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mind form, or way of seeing, is constitutive. It shapes your life so that your life appears to conform to your un self seen vision of life.
So when I ask the question, solve or dissolve? how can I apply it to this problem?
Imagine that you are the type of person who always questions him or herself when something goes wrong. You have a self-faulting personality. If something goes wrong or falls short of your or others’ expectations, you blame yourself. You do this for years. If anything goes 'wrong' you respond by trying harder, not by asking whether or not human failing alone could even be the cause of the trouble. Then one day, in what might seem like a miracle, it occurs to you that you can not yourself alone be the source of the failing in your or others’ lives. I don’t mean that you just get tired of it all and say, in effect, 'the hell with it' (which people sometimes do at a certain point in their lives). I mean that you realize you are attributing to human capacity something does not belong to human capacity. Its not that you don’t have failings. You do, probably many. It’s that what you imagine you can correct by ‘trying hard’ simply can’t be corrected that way.
You begin to feel great relief. You are no longer burdened by the weight of the world. Neither anger towards others or yourself is appropriate to the frequent and commonplace failings of life. You feel relief. Your attitude of self-blame lifts. You have dissolved a problem rather than solved it.
There are many other examples I can describe. Imagine that you are a person for whom the notion of community is central. When you attempt to explain what goes wrong in life, you do so along the lines of this notion. Either you or the other is failing the community. Or, on the other hand, either you or the other is giving too much to the community and failing yourself. Back and forth you go, over and over, attempting to find that elusive balance. How much do I give? How much do I take? How much did that person give? And so on and so forth.
Then you meet a person who has no community notion at all. That person simply sees 'a bunch of people’ where you see a world. You don’t know whether this person is a miracle or a curse. Your chastisement bounces off them like so many rubber bullets. Your praise is absorbed into their own notions of what might be praise worthy about them. You discover, in essence, that you don’t even speak the same language.
What do you do? Do you go to marriage counseling to try and elicit the help of a third party in enlightening your partner as to the nature of community? Or do you return to a self-inquiry, seeking clarity about your own explanation for the negative in life?
Obviously I am a proponent of the latter. We need other people situationally, but we also need them in order to come to see ourselves. It is only through this endless bumping up against one another that we have a shot at identifying our own constitutive ways of being/seeing.
Problems of this order cannot be solved. I’m telling you that but I know you will ignore me. Most likely you will try again and again to redouble your efforts to make right what seems wrong. You will do this along the lines of your own mind form without noticing that you have a mind form.
If you do listen to me I can tell you a secret. The problem of limited seeing is not open to solving by persisting in seeing limited by mind form. You cannot keep your mind form and solve your problems any more than the man in our story could solve his problems without dropping his expectation of a holocaust. His mind form prevented him from asking himself whether the bang he heard so loudly could be anything other than the beginning of the end he was primed for. The problems that arise due to our being limited in our capacity to see are not open to being solved but only repeated endlessly until the mind form itself is dissolved.