The Peace Paradox

The paradox: the more one seeks peace, the less one finds. This because seeking acknowledges lack of that sought and finding signifies the end of seeking it.

  • Misunderstanding: My life is a problem I need to solve, the solution to which ends my life.
  • Understanding: Life simply is.

“Mad Hatter: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In a world of complements as competition, defense – in the form of cause and effect – seems to exist as problem and solution. It’s a loop condition! That is, until I see both as one, I realize my misunderstanding.

One might see the humor in it.

Peace comes at a price: constant effort towards its achievement and maintenance. This raises a question. Why am I not at peace when I’ve worked so hard for it? My answer has always been to double down on my efforts because I must not be doing enough. You know, if at first you don’t succeed… try doing the same thing with renewed determination over and over again hoping for a different result. Sound familiar?

And there’s the paradox – and the humor. It seems the more I invest in achieving and defending peace, the less peace I experience. Even when I feel I’ve achieved a sense of peace, my defense of it hinders my enjoyment of it.

Challenging My Understanding

I defend what I believe gives me peace. Meanwhile, I feel threatened I will lose that peace. How can I feel threatened when I’m feeling peaceful?

It feels like a catch-22 situation in which I use the process that created the problem to solve the problem. One cannot use limited awareness to escape limited awareness or misunderstanding to correct misunderstanding.

What might happen when I shift my intention from seeking wholeness to celebrating separation? Rather than seeking to solve the problem of separation, I could enjoy the experience of it.

Perhaps it’s not about problem-solving, it’s about living in gratitude – awareness of who I am. Disconnecting from the value judgments I place on my creations allows me to enjoy being a creator. This is a different experience from that lived in judgments of right-wrong, good-bad, defensive limited/limiting awareness.

“’Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” Rumi

Questioning A Satisfied Mind

Although the satisfied mind invites a challenge to it, it resists questioning because it feels satisfied. No need to ask a question when you feel you have the answer. Peace resists challenge!

Yet, I’m driven from deep within to understand what is beyond what I understand. I feel an urgency to expand my limited awareness to appreciate what I now cannot imagine. I wonder…

What if peace is not the answer? What if my sense of peace and comfort is an invitation to exploration into gratitude?

Fear and the Choice-Defense Algorithm

Consider how fear validates lack at the physical level by motivating the fulfillment of physical needs. That physical sense of fear influences choice-making by effectively removing options. Fewer options means more time available for fulfilling needs. That’s critical in life-or-death choices where use of time makes that choice.

From an instinctual perspective, choice may be entirely based on compliance to symbolic representations and pattern recognition. Thus, my choices defend my certainty of the reality of my symbolic representations.

Fear is the driving force of compliance – an intense, unquestionable obedience that motivates all need fulfillment.

If the instinctive world had a motto, it would be, “Do what you know!” Perhaps conscious choice threatens that knowing by questioning the certainty of the motto.

Because of the primal nature of instinct, questioning the motto will initiate defense. Fear represents preemptive defense of the motto, preventing me from even asking by returning my consciousness to the instinctive state.

Questioning is only half the equation – consideration is the other.

The Choice-Defense Algorithm

The choice-defense algorithm is a filtering process. Perception of an option’s value and immediacy affects the algorithm. For example, a high-stakes option will eliminate all lower-stakes options from the competition. My investment in fear artificially elevates an option’s value to higher-stakes. Repeated use of a certain fear in choice-making results in a bias in its favor. Thus, raising the stakes on certain options as they appear.

When I feel I have time to consider many options, I’ll filter them through a value-based mental/emotional consideration sieve. This filtering process is steeped in instinct. I already have a bias and preconception of the outcome of the process. In other words, it’s not a choice, it’s a defense algorithm!

The algorithm takes into account each option’s relative characteristics – based on a knowing. Like choosing between chocolate or vanilla ice cream – I’ll select the option I already believe is best – a bias. This because we select through symbolism. For example, I compare vanilla to chocolate in symbols I perceive as color, taste, temperature, etc. I then defend my “choice” with an explanation or reason for why it is better or best.

It’s an unfair comparison process because I’ve added biased value to MY selection compared to others. Competition and defense – the cardinal characteristics of my bubble of limited awareness.

Fear adds preemptive defense value to the already biased choice-defense algorithm, returning choices to the realm of instinct.

An Insight into Solving the Problem of Resistance

Intentions indicate a sense of lack. A sense of purpose arises to fill that lack. For example, I breathe to satisfy a sense of lack of oxygen.

I seek to satisfy physical and psychological needs by solving problems. That means asking questions that lead to solving those problems.

When I become aware of a problem, I must solve it with a change. That’s a problem because I resist change.

How do I solve the problem of resistance? That resistance is a state of mind and states of mind can change. A state of mind break might be useful.

Breaking focus from a defensive state of mind to a more resourceful state of mind involves a simple change of attention. For example, when I’m focused on a problem and resist its solution, I might use an insightful question to break the resistant state of mind, “What do you want?” Or I might yell, “Snap out of it!” in my mind. Or, I may engage in some unrelated activity, like walking, redirecting focus, or asking an unrelated question.

Solving the Resistance Problem

With awareness of my defensiveness, I might follow-up with some self-awareness questions:

“What do you need?”
“How might the information I’m resisting be useful to me?”
“What else could this mean than what I think it means?”
“Why am I resisting this?”
“Who am I?”

These questions may bring about awareness that stops the resistant response.

In the process of solving the problem of a resistant state of mind, the discomfort of resistance can awaken awareness. Once activated, awareness is an opportunity for insightful understanding. Awareness questions experience. When I question my experiences, I bring clarity of understanding to them.

Let’s look at some examples of how I might use clarity to solve the problem of resistance.

Problem – Solution:
Fear – Pause from present actions and intention to investigate purpose, refocus, and ground.
Certitude – Question present resistance with, “Is it true?” “Can I know it’s true?”
Stress – Calmness
Stuck thinking – Consider alternatives, “What else could this be/mean?”
Inattention – Check my intention, “What do I want?”

In doing the above, I’m taking a shortcut to problem solving. In this case, the problem is resistance, the solution is understanding.

The Power of Emotion in a New Paradigm

Instinct is an IF THIS, DO THAT reactionary program that largely eliminates the need to problem-solve. Instinct provides a quick, default, problem-solving program intended to be an energy conservation system that works in most situations.

As problem-solvers, humans interpret their reality through sensory feedback from the body. In the old program of instinct, the mind dealt directly with the body and the environment. The senses communicated messages about benefits and threats from the body directly to the mind. The mind used that information to engage automatic responses to improve its chances of survival.

The Old Paradigm

In instinct, situation determined action: threat = flight, or threat = fight. No other options.

The instinctive program is fast and mostly effective. No need to take time to think, feel, or ask a question. Emotions provide stimulus in the form of inquiry that engages the mind in problem-solving. This new program works with feedback in a new way.

“The world that we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level as the level we created them at. That is, the only way we can solve them is by creating a new level of thinking about them. In other words, we’ve got to break the [mind]set.” (Ram Das, “The Only Dance There Is” pg 38)

Beyond instinct, this movement of emotion challenges mind to bridge to the body through new intention and that from new information. That intention, raised in self awareness, is able to understand and direct the body at new levels of experience.

The New Paradigm

The new program became IF THIS, THINK ABOUT IT, DO THAT. This new paradigm uses the same emotions used in a new way – as counselor rather than director.

This new awareness is the result of an amplification of feedback from the body to the mind via the emotions. The mind becomes aware of the emotions’ influence and engages with responses consciously to problem solve. Acting as counsel to mind, the body experiences change as a sense of increased attention to its experiences.

By utilizing emotions to enhance survival, mind can put its imagination to work enhancing its experience of survival. This new mind takes account of its feelings, serving itself and its environment in a new, more powerful way.

When the mind interprets an experience, the emotions present a powerful change feedback mirror to it. This mirroring effect reflects a message of possible changes to consider while conserving energy. This while allowing itself to make changes to upgrade its program.

Today, I no longer have to live by an instinctive reactive program. I can take a moment to consider a, “What if…” or “What else…” question. Perhaps this is the process of evolution that will change homosapiens into neo-sapiens. And then knock on the door to the Aha Zone – and beyond…

The Doubt-Certitude Paradox

In my bubble of limited awareness, life’s ambiguities raise doubts about the certainty of my choices. Those doubts tend to increase as my awareness of ambiguity grows. Doubt can be a benefit and a threat – depending on the context.

Choosing based on fear validates fear as a certainty. In order to feel safe I must believe I’ve made the right choice. This, in turn, solidifies my devotion to my certainty.

Fear resolves a paradox by feeling certitude in doubt, rather than doubt in my certitude. The paradox arises when I must be certain and yet I must have doubt. For example, in life, certitude convinces me the experience is real. Meanwhile, doubt makes life appear to change in unexpected ways. I doubt and I’m certain.

Doubt and Certitude

Doubt offers me the kind of options that challenge my comfort zone choices intended to result in safe outcomes. My instinctive choices would probably have caused me to seek escape from threat, which could’ve been disastrous! Instinct isn’t always reliable for safety.

Where life most threatens my comfort zone, paradox is there to confront my safety defense. However, the slower and straighter the ride, the more boring it feels in contrast. I need enough contrast between doubt and certitude to perceive change.

The greater the contrast, the greater the opportunity for awareness of the paradox. In my perceptual world, I’m more likely to choose from well-established options, those I rely on. That certitude creates a comfort zone of trusted options I don’t doubt.

Thus, I deliberately limit options to those that validate my comfort zone. And resist those that might throw doubt on my comfort zone.

The paradox remains until a choice appears to resolve it. Once I settle on the results of a choice, I resolve the paradox by defending it. Thus, by making a choice, I confirm the paradox by defending it.

That is a paradox!