If you’ve been following the yearlong retreat you know my current favorite passion is “The Ego Problem Box.” The way “The Ego Problem Box” works is that ego hands a person a box labeled “Your Problem.” If the person accepts the box the game is on. (The person pretty much always accepts the box.)
In the box is a (BIG) problem ego has laid out, complete with the structure, boundaries, and limitations, as well as all the language required to obsess about the problem around the clock, or whenever ego decides the person needs to be reeled in and reminded of who ego says they are.
Years ago I was handed one of those boxes but had no idea that’s what it was. In my ignorance I accepted the box. It contained a BIG problem. A problem with only one solution—a bullet. Lucky for me, as numerous wits pointed out, I was a bad shot.
It took me years to realize how many solutions there were to that “problem” that did not include my death. I could have gone to Bangladesh and helped build houses for flood victims. I could have moved far away, found a job, and volunteered at any of the thousands of organizations assisting the very people the voices in my head were using as the reason this world is so hopeless the only sensible solution is departure. I could have gone to Tahiti with my favorite cousin and joined him in working on a tan while drinking umbrella-decorated libations!
My options were limitless because there never was a problem in the first place!
The saying “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” is a good one. However, it doesn’t address those souls who don’t take that way out but instead give over a perfectly wonderful life to a slow suicide of dragging around innumerable boxes labeled “Your Problem.”
Over the years I’ve encouraged people in the pits of despair, some on the edge of suicide, to say to those voices in the head (in the problem box), “If you don’t shut up I’m going to leave all this behind and go to the Monastery.” Many of them tried it. And, to a person, when the voices started screaming, “You can’t do that! That’s crazy! That’s irresponsible! You’ll be miserable! You would hate that!” the person caved.
“That’s true,” the person sighs (completely identified with the ego torturing and controlling them), “I could never do that. I need to stay here and figure this out.”
No, we don’t. We don’t need to figure anything out because there’s nothing to figure out. All we ever need to do is drop the ego yammering in the head, realize as the saying goes that “life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived” (let’s go on and say “loved”), and get on with enjoying everything that IS outside that cramped, clenched, miserable little box of conditioned mind.