The Circle with No Exit

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. ~Albert Einstein

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I’ve been stuck for months in a thinking pattern about a certain situation in my family. When I think about it, I get upset. When I get upset, I want to “fix” the situation so that I won’t be upset. Fixing the situation involves getting the other people in this situation to behave in a different way, meaning, of course, the way I think best. If they would behave differently, then there wouldn’t be a problem and I wouldn’t be upset. It’s so simple.

As you can imagine, I’m not having much success with this approach. I know that, and yet I repeatedly return to it. It’s so easy and fall into that familiar pattern of making my own happiness and peace of mind dependent on someone or something else. I have to repeatedly remind myself that my well being is my own responsibility and is based on my own thoughts. When I remember this, then for a few moments I feel serene. Until I start to feel resentment towards the others for “making” me have to remind my self of this over and over. Sigh.

As my tai chi teacher observed, it’s a circle with no exit. As long as I am in that plane of consciousness, there will be attack and defense, gain and loss, us and them, winning and losing. And at the root of all of those…fear.

How do I get out of this circle? Ah, perhaps the solution is in the question. I can’t get out of the circle by searching the circumference for an opening. There is none. In accepting the reality of the circle, I’m accepting my confinement within it.

But what if I render the circle meaningless by shifting to a different plane, one where there is no us versus them, where this and the other dualities no longer exist? Where fear transforms from arrows into flowers like the evils hurled by Mara at the enlightened Buddha?

On this plane, the other people in my family situation are not sources of anger or frustration or anxiety. They are angels sent to me, leading me to my meditation cushion instead of my soapbox, opening my heart with compassion instead of closing it with judgment, teaching me to trust the basic goodness of the universe instead of my futile efforts to control it. And instead of feeling resentment, I am humbly grateful.

Here, there are no circles



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About the Author: Galen Pearl’s stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and A Cup of Comfort anthologies, and her popular blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), attracts thousands of readers every month. Recently retired from teaching law, she regularly leads retreats and workshops on developing habits to grow a joyful spirit. A Southern girl transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys her five kids and two grandchildren, martial arts, her cabin in the mountains, and mahjong.

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