What came first, the chicken or the egg?, we ask, knowing we don’t know the answer and that we’ll never know the answer. We get a buzz from asking unanswerable questions, as the Zen Buddhists do about trees falling in forests and Schroeder does about cats in boxes.
It’s more fun asking unanswerable questions than asking answerable questions – especially if we don’t want to know the answers – which is why we persist with the unanswerable questions! It saves us having to face the truth and make changes.
One of our prevailing questions is why is the world so insane, unfair and/or illogical? There is, of course, no reason why presidents say they smoke but don’t inhale, why businesses send you invoices for the cost of preparing your invoices or why people go running when they could leave earlier and walk. None of it is logical or sane and there is no good reason for it except that’s what people do. Asking why people keep eating when they’re worried about their obesity, why politicians say trust me just after they’ve lied or why we expect doctors to make us healthy when they make more money keeping us sick are pointless questions and take us nowhere helpful. But we keep asking the unanswerable questions so we can avoid the answers that take us from where we are to where we want to be. We pretend to ourselves that we want better lives but we’re afraid of doing better lives.
We’re insane beings: we have bronchial problems so we keep smoking; we’re under stress so we keep working 14-hour days; we have relationship problems so we keep arguing that we’re right. We keep doing what we don’t want to do and being the people we don’t want to be and our courage fails us when it comes to the really useful questions and the life-changing answers they contain.
Our courage fails us and we choose not to look inside for the questions and answers for that is where they all are. Instead, we flail around blaming the weather, our parents and the local council when things go don’t go as we’d like. The answer is never out there. It’s always in here.
You see, God, you and I designed the universe together and the way we planned it was thus:
If we’re feeling something (anything, in fact) inside, the universe will bring in an event (or several events if we’re not listening) to prove that we’re right. The universe is kind like that!
So, if we’re feeling angry, we’ll soon be overcharged for medical treatment or driven into by a distracted driver … whatever it is that happens, it’s something which will accentuate the identical angry feelings we’re already feeling … and probably denying ourselves.
If we’re feeling depressed our partner will leave or we’ll find we’ve got cancer or some other depression-inducing event will occur to remind us of what’s already going on inside.
If we’re feeling lost we’ll lose our job or our faith in life and we’ll wonder what the heck we’re supposed to be doing on this planet, accentuating the lost feeling that’s already going on inside.
And now come the unanswerable questions. Why did they overcharge me? Why did (s)he leave me? Why did I get fired? The questions are all about them out there and never about me in here. Chasing the answers out there is a guarantee that we’ll just feel more of what we were feeling before and nothing else will change.
However, if we ask the answerable question – the only question to ask – we’ll be prompted to make a shift in perception and, hence, awareness … and to have a better life.
If something out there seems to make us angry, an effective question is, “Mmm, I’m feeling anger. Where inside is that coming from?” The answer may not arrive immediately – especially if we’re not sure we want to hear it – but, if we quietly persist with the question, it will bring along its simple answer when we’re truly ready. The answer we hear will not be about the overcharged medical account, the stupid council or the careless driver but something much closer to home – our own harsh self-judgement.
You see, anger comes from unmet expectations. Depression comes from unmet expectations. Lostness comes from unmet expectations … now, hang on, they all come from the same place? Well, yeah, they do. They come from our little selves setting ourselves up for failure. We’re so good at it, we ALWAYS fail! We’re brilliant at setting unreachable goals and not getting there.
By 40 I want to have a nice house, two cars, an annual overseas holiday and … oh, bother, here I am at 41 with no job and my money’s running out. So I feel angry or depressed or lost or injustice or unloved or some other self-flagellating, debasing and debilitating feelings.
We imagine we have no control so we numb ourselves to that by pretending we can control our future. We even hear people saying, “It’s supposed to be sunny on Tuesday,” or “It’s supposed to rain over the weekend.”! The news of the day, ladies and gentlemen, is that the weather isn’t supposed to do anything at all! It’s gonna’ do what it’s gonna’ do, no matter how many people tell it otherwise. And councils and governments and spouses and every other person, giraffe and grasshopper are gonna’ do what they’re gonna’ do, whether we want them to or not.
The strange truth is that we have far more control than we ever imagine. We can’t command the world to behave to our rules but we can change our feelings about who we are and how much peace we wish to bring in. We simply take an honest look at what’s going on inside, own it, acknowledge it, thank it for the opportunity for change and choose that it be dissolved in love or peace or joy or whatever you wish to experience. Yes, I know: it’s too simple, it’s too cheap and too obvious. There’s no 23 steps to enlightenment, years of excruciating counselling or arduous self-denial and abstinence.
There’s just: “Oh, is that what’s going on inside? Let me see. Is it anger? Is it feeling ignored? No, I’ve got it. It’s feeling useless. OK useless feeling, thank you for turning up and I know if I stay with you, feeling the full uncomfortable power of feeling useless, you’ll transmogrify into feeling productive.”
You sit with it feeling uncomfortable and you sit with it and you sit with it and, eventually, it becomes something else. And then, in the way that God, you and I designed the universe, something (maybe several things) will happen to prove you are truly productive or loved or worthwhile or whatever you wanted.
And so, in a very real sense, you have total control over your entire universe. When you realise that, through sweet and simple experience, you won’t care if eggs or chickens come first for, in your heart, you come first … and you jolly well deserve to!