Modern society is oriented toward solving problems. There is no lack of go-getters who dedicate themselves to finding new ways to do things, and no shortage of belief that progress can’t be stopped. Much of this confidence, however, is a distraction. By focusing on the next technology, the next engineering marvel, the next medical breakthrough, we lose sight of deeper problems that offer no solution.
Buddha pointed to the problem of suffering, Jesus to the problem of sin and the lack of love, Gandhi to the absence of peace in a world of violence. What new technology will prevent me from attacking my enemy? What medical breakthrough will enable me to love my neighbor as myself?
You can look around and see how futile external solutions have proven. Crime, famine, war, epidemics, and poverty continue to baffle us, and yet society throws money at these problems over and over, as if a failed approach will succeed if only we persist. On the spiritual path you discover that all problems are rooted in consciousness, therefore the solution is always a shift in consciousness.
If you were to be happy from the soul level, totally in accord with God, what would that be like? In a word, it would be effortless. To be happy from the soul level, three things are required:
1. You act without effort.
2. You feel joy in what you do.
3. Your actions bring results.
All three requirements must work together if you want to experience the happiness God intended. It is already on display in the natural kingdom, where every creature acts spontaneously, and yet every action supports the entire ecological system. Human beings, however, primarily reside in a mental landscape. Our vision of ourselves rules what we do; the physical environment comes second (if at all), and it is expected to adapt to our demands.
In Nature, every challenge is met with a response. As dinosaurs die out, mammals thrive. As ferns give way to flowering plants, insects learn to feed on pollen. Creation and destruction move together, constantly in touch with each other. The same seamless interaction is also possible in a mental ecological system.
In higher states of consciousness, no gap appears between desire and fulfillment. Few of us experience this spontaneous state, however. The conventional condition of separation is all about gaps and discontinuity. Desires seem to lead to failure. The best-laid plans seem to go astray, and our experience of separation seems to grow.
You might think it would take heroic efforts to solve the problems that face us. Spiritually speaking, the reverse is true. The soul’s vision isn’t about struggle and lack of results. It isn’t about failure. You only need to measure your actions against the three simple conditions I mentioned above.
1. Am I acting easily, without struggle?
2. Do I enjoy what I’m doing?
3. Are results coming of their own accord?
Answering “yes” means that spiritually you are going in the right direction; answering “no” means that you aren’t.
Adapted from Why is God Laughing? by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).