The Spiritual Solution
Transcends the Problem
by Jef Bartow
In today's objective material society, we are conditioned by an attitude based on getting what one wants, making sure our security isn’t threatened while maximizing comfort and minimizing difficulty. This is sort of a takeoff on the human focus on comfort, security and happiness. Unfortunately, this focus will only minimize spiritual growth. If we look at our problems in society and our own issues regarding health, success and family, they always seem to be fraught with problems, difficulties and lack of ease. In business school and many corporations, a key to management success is to not just eliminating symptoms, but solving problems. Unfortunately, in many fields including the medical and psychological communities, solving the problems behind the symptoms gets left behind most of the time. A prevailing attitude in most generations today is: just give me a pill or a shot and let me get back to my life. Frankly, I find it rare that anyone looks at their illnesses as internally caused by their own attitudes and behaviors. Most everyone believes that they are not responsible for their physical problems, it's all genetics, heredity or just life.
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Another place that this attitude tends to prevail is with family issues. It's kind of like: they're my family, I love them, warts and all. One of the early things in spiritual growth revolves around looking at yourself as the source of the problem, not your family or upbringing. A key component of solving ingrained psychological, family and life issues goes beyond identifying the problem and solving it. We need to look behind the problem to the causes, then change the causes. Not only will the problem be solved and the symptoms eliminated, other future potential problems based on the same root cause will not arise. For example, most all teenagers go through a period of questioning authority, rebelling in one way or another and/or just misbehaving. These are the symptoms, not the problems. Many parents just try to eliminate the symptoms, which rarely works. So what are the typical problems involved? One revolves around the difficulties in puberty in establishing one's sense of identity, separate from parental/authority conditioning. Another includes psychological effects of raging hormones. A third problem is that the maturing child begins to figure out that most humans don't live what they teach when the going gets tough. Typical solutions to these problems include parental dictates with some form of punishment unless the adolescent conforms. Second, shield the adolescent from our mistakes by reinforcing what they should do, not what we did. And finally, we're all human and therefore, we just don't always do what we know to be right. There are typically two main ingredients used in eliminating symptoms and trying to solve problems. These two catalysts include compromise and do what's fair. Most every one of us is taught that compromise is good when it eliminates ongoing issues. Unfortunately, this usually only eliminates the symptoms and rarely solves problems. We can easily see this in global affairs where certain compromises eliminated the wars between the Israelis and Palestinians; stopped the genocides in Africa, divided North and South Korea; and created a separate Pakistan from India. As Dr. Phil would ask: And how's that working out for you?
Another crippling axiom in truly solving problems is to do what is fair. Fairness is based on the idea of "treating both sides or all sides alike, without reference to one's own feelings or interest." Here again, the obstacle relates in treating all alike. Each individual has unique needs, differing psychological issues and soul problems to be dealt with in this life. Treating all children, students, etc. the same only creates a mediocre (problem ridden) society, and certainly doesn't encourage spiritual growth.
Second, we need to replace compromise with sacrifice in solving problems. The three main components of spiritual growth include love, wisdom and sacrifice. We are all forced to sacrifice on the Spiritual Path in order to transmute our personal will into spiritual will. A major area for sacrifice is always of one's own desires. When we are really willing to give something up and move on, we transcend our human nature and receive something far greater in return. I conclude that the grace we receive from God is proportionate to how much we’re willing to sacrifice for God. Regarding our adolescent generation, the way we teach them the power of sacrifice is as role models. We need to show them how to do it by example. I'd be willing to guarantee you that the changes they see in us from sacrifice will be the most powerful way they learn to do it freely themselves. I suggest that we start with the little things in life and work up to the important sacrifices we all must make in spiritualizing ourselves. Thirdly, finding solutions that transcend the problem are powerfully facilitated by replacing fairness with justice. Synonyms of fair include just, impartial, unbiased, objective and dispassionate. These synonyms go to the definition of justice. Justice is as Aristotle said: "treating equals equally and unequals unequally, but in proportion to their relevant differences." Justice provides the "dispassionate impartiality which creates an equitable or proper fitting of like principles and forms." And importantly, this has little to do with rules and regulations that apply to all. If we treat our children with justice, then each is treated equally when the problem is equally shared and each is treated separately based on the relevant differences in the situation for each. To do this, we need to better understand the unique needs and issues for each individual and create solutions based on them. This will also go a long way toward solving our global affairs. Each country, peoples, races and cultures will be better helped with justice than with fairness or compromise. That will, of course, require a radically different attitude and orientation from world leaders and our society. It seems pretty easy to see that much sacrifice will be involved. My question is this: What do we have to lose? Evolution is excruciating. Revolutionary changes and a more radical orientation in loving, sacrificing and communicating our wisdom to those less fortunate than us will accelerate their growth and prosperity while transforming our humanness into spiritual power.