​A New Take on Problem-Solving

A problem cannot be solved on the same level of consciousness that created it,” says another truism from Albert Einstein. I keep seeing this quoted (without reference), so much so, I have find myself treating it like a meditation. I often turn this saying over in my mind, not sure what Einstein had in mind, but enjoying what it does with my mind, and now, hopefully, with your mind. And strangely, it’s about going beyond our normal thinking.

​Problems are normally framed by ordinary consciousness, that is, binary thinking. Binary thinking comes with our human equipment. It distinguishes differences in order for us to function. Early in our development we are told: this is a dog, not a cat; this is blue, that is green. And so on. So the internal groove is there, pulling us to think in terms of this/that, right/wrong, good/bad, in/out, up/down, positive/negative. So a problem is defined on this level of consciousness.

​Einstein suggests that for resolution, the approach must come from a higher (deeper) consciousness. From there you resist polarization, holding with respect the differences, while looking for creative options that would be missed by taking either/or sides. It means seeing beyond the differences, separation and firm judgments for the new that might emerge.

​Let’s take a highly charged current “problem.” In our state, on May 8, we will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that establishes marriage as defined between a man and woman, another major set back to same-sex marriages. Vigorous forces are mounting their charge “for” and “against,” myself included. I have written two pieces for the local paper appealing for the vote of “no” to this amendment.

​But here is my dis-ease. This “problem” will not be solved on this level of consciousness. In fact, this voting will likely deepen the divide between gays and most straights, between black and whites, and between one flavor of Christianity and another flavor of the same. A negative vote may stop a further injustice, and I personally believe it would. But resolution, even movement, requires another consciousness. This higher (deeper) consciousness sees mutuality, not only difference, sees relationships, not only issues, sees the challenge of dialogue, not a problem solved by voting.

​I’m thinking that this consciousness sounds a lot like the Kingdom (Realm) of God, loving God and neighbor as yourself, in other words, no separation. Then there is Jesus talking about, and then incarnating, loving and praying for enemies, in other words, no separation. This sure sounds like Paul in Romans 8: No-thing in life or in death can separate us from the Love en-fleshed in Jesus. And this different consciousness sure fits with another of Einstein’s statements quoted in my last posting: “[Human beings express themselves] as something separate from the rest . . . a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us . . .”

​Let’s come back to the May 8 vote on Amendment One. From the level of non-dual awareness, what do you see? By holding with respect both sides, what sticks out?

​What strikes me is that both sides care passionately about marriage — the courageous covenanting between two persons until death does the parting. And, this vigorous debate about marriage occurs in a time when the validity of marriage is under question. It is forcing us, if we allow it, to have a public reflection on the meaning of marriage. The institution of marriage has always been dynamic and changing, never static and timeless. So, what is the shape of marriage in our changing times?

​With this May 8 vote upon us, I long for an alternative to winners and losers. What if some black and whites, some gays and straights came together — with confidentiality and safety
established — and explored the meaning of marriage in our day. Of course, any creative resolution of differences will take time, a long time probably. But the conversation and yearning for discernment would be flowing from a different consciousness. And, regardless of outcome, relationships, with differences respected, would be deepened. This “what if” I plan to explore.

​I wonder, am I even close to what Einstein had in mind?

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