about problems, structures of thinking, and the opportunities we are missing
“Problems are gatekeepers to higher levels of Consciousness.”
Everybody has problems. This is both challenging and exciting. Problems can be difficult or desirable. The challenge is to find solutions to our problems, that’s the hard bit.
The exciting part is that problems nudge us to discover something new, something we’ve never known or even thought of before, perhaps something nobody has ever thought of. After all, the way you think, see, and experience the world is totally unique to you.
No wonder we all view problem solving in different ways too. We have our own experience of having problems, and our unique solutions should spring from there.
Discoveries of unique solutions to mundane problems change the world. The idea alone stirs the spirit of adventure in the human soul.
Humans are always looking for the key to the ‘mother of all problems’ – hoping to be able to resolve all hardship… Maybe some great ‘problem solvers’ in human history can help us out.
“A problem cannot be solved with the same structures of thinking that have contributed to its creation.” These words from Albert Einstein have become part of the vernacular in the world of spirituality and personal growth.
Even though the words sound familiar, the original meaning might have been lost in translation. Several variations of this phrase are quoted online – “Problems cannot be solved by the same way of thinking that created them.” “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind that created them.” “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them.”– The exact source is unclear.
Spiritual teachers and their followers often use this quote as a springboard to recommend jumping to a ‘higher’ level of consciousness, where our problems miraculously resolve themselves. If we get good at this – according to common assumptions – we might even be able to leapfrog our problems altogether.
This interpretation is a reflection of our general attitude towards problems. It doesn’t give an accurate account of what Albert Einstein allegedly said. The great man himself didn’t have a problem with handling problems. It’s what he did for a living.
The need to change our way of thinking was also recognised by Jean Gebser, a German poet and philosopher, considered one of the most important thinkers of his time.
Jean Gebser was born in 1905 when Albert Einstein was formulating his theory of relativity. Some decades later – having been caught up in the 1st World War and narrowly escaped death on several occasions – Gebser also thought about problems and ‘structures of human thinking’.
In a talk about the Value of Obstacles (Vom Wert der Hindernisse) given in 1963, Jean Gebser explains that all obstacles contain information pointing towards a personal task to facilitate our own maturing process.
In other words, according to Jean Gebser, anything we regard as a problem is in fact an opportunity to help us develop a new way of thinking. And this contributes to the growth of our Consciousness.
The word problem comes from Greek, and originally it meant obstacle, or literally something thrown into one’s path. Problems are stumbling blocks the universe throws at us for good reasons.
The dominant current way of thinking is: if we could get rid of all problems, then the world would be a better place. We believe in fighting against our problems and have blind faith in technology and science to help us overcome them once and for all.
The possibility of the universe providing us with problems for good reasons doesn’t even dawn on our horizon. The common attitude towards what we experience as problems is hostile, aggressive, destructive, irrational, unscientific and unspiritual.
This attitude doesn’t just spread through all walks of material life. You’ll stumble over it in fields of spirituality, personal growth, neuroscience, and other places where people are advocating ‘new ways of thinking’!
The trouble is, it’s not a new way of thinking, and it’s not solving any problems. It’s been around for centuries, and it has created more problems than it’s claiming to solve. The sclerotic structures of thinking, which have contributed to its creation, are applied as if they were iron rules.
Nobody seems to notice the rust eating holes into those ancient thought structures, while the mother of all problems keeps breeding like a rabbit.
If you thought your problems were nothing but a ‘bloody nuisance’ that keep you from having the life you want, think again. Think of all the opportunities you are missing.
Both Albert Einstein and Jean Gebser were deep thinkers and great problem solvers. They made unique contributions to new structures of human thinking. They knew that problems can lead to their own solution, if you welcome them and follow their guidance.
We can view any obstacle as a reflection of our dormant potential, like Jean Gebser. We can look at problems, recognise that ‘everything is energy’, and convert the problematic energy into something that changes the course of our life path, like Albert Einstein.
We can learn to see any hurdle in life as an opportunity to take a quantum leap into a new way of thinking – not by looking for technological solutions or praying to be let off the hook – but by discovering the unique personal gift contained within the problem itself.
Problems are not just hurdles in our path to climb over. They help raise the bar of our thinking. They are gatekeepers to higher levels of Consciousness.
A problem doesn’t keep you from entering a new zone in your inner world, it whispers the password into your ear.
Problems are steppingstones on the climb to the summit. Those who don’t face them, never leave the valley, where the masses settle along familiar channels of thought.
© Veronika Bond, 2016
This article is complemented by an e-letter published on the same date.
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