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Problems and Limitations: The Four Elements December 2, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 10) Problems and Limitations: The Four Elements.
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WW: All right, it looks as if we’re ready to begin, but I don’t recall what the subject was. …Does anyone remember?

PARTICIPANT: I believe it was finding a place without our problems and limitations.

WW: There we go. The discourse becomes so long that I sometimes forget the question. I think we had three or four points in one question.

Problems and limitations. This will be another subject where we have to take the long way around to get to it. You see what the trouble is, we have beliefs stacked on top of beliefs and we need to be thorough enough to go through the stack to get to the one we want. If we don’t see this through to completion, we’ll just be wasting our time in some philosophical discussion, and those discussions are a dime a dozen; they just don’t have much value. The libraries, bookstores, textbooks, and man-made institutions are full of philosophical discussions.

We tend to see the world with only two forces: cause and effect. The sun comes up and causes the temperature to go up. A cloud cover comes in and causes the temperature to go down. Someone makes a rude remark and causes me to feel bad. That’s what it usually comes down to. Events, which often have something to do with other people, are the cause, and I am the effect. The idea of two elements has been reinforced internally as well as from without by axioms such as, “For every cause there is an effect, for every effect there is a cause.”

Some have said that there are several elements to any phenomenon, not just the two that we normally see. The first element or force would be what I call “drive.” Suppose we want to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Initiating that aim would be drive. Maybe we want to go to the market. Initiating that aim would be drive. On close examination, there would be hundreds or thousands of initiating aims to this, such as getting up from the chair, finding the car keys, walking to the door, reaching for the door knob, and so on, but we don’t want to complicate the issue so we’ll just lump these together for ease of discussion and demonstration. We may want to get a master’s degree from college. Initiating this aim would be drive.

The next element would be active or passive “resistance.” For our purposes it makes no difference if it is passive or active. The nail doesn’t just float its way into the wood, it resists. The second element then is resistance, in this case, passive resistance. The nail may bend when we strike it. More resistance. Someone may come along and bump the board, knocking it out of position. That would be active resistance. When we initiate the driving element to go to the market, we may have trouble finding the car keys, there may be heavy traffic or road construction, we may take a wrong turn, we may have to take a detour to fill the tank with gas. Each of these is resistance to our drive. When we drive toward education, we meet with resistance: tuition costs, the difficulty of memorization, boring classes, rearranging schedules around class time, understanding difficult concepts. All of these are resistance to the element of drive.

We then have the third element of this series: “culmination.” The nail gets hammered in. We arrive at the market. We receive a college degree. The culmination comes about from the interaction of the first two elements: drive and resistance.

The last element is the “result.” The board that we nailed is properly secured for whatever the purpose is. We’re able to meet someone or pick up something after arriving at the market. We are able to be gainfully employed in our field of interest after arrival with a degree.

We don’t have much trouble with the third and fourth elements. We have a terrific amount of trouble with the first two.
Again, it’s another one of those things that we have turned around backwards. We see resistance as the cause or the problem and we are the victims of these so-called problems. We are the effect. How often do we hear ourselves say, “You make me mad,” “You caused me to get angry,” “The store clerk gave me grief,” “John or Mary really pissed me off.” We’re solidly entrenched in the cause and effect idea, so this bears repeating. The so-called problem, that is, resistance, is seen as the cause of our disappointment or anger or some other emotion. We find it necessary to angrily use four-letter words because the so-called problem or resistance is seen as the cause of some sort of ill feeling. We see ourselves as the victims of problems. You and I, we do this in a repeated manner how many times a day? A hundred times a day? A thousand times a day? How often do you see yourself as a victim?

This reminds me of a little joke. When I was growing up, my father would do the cooking for us on weekends. We sat down at the table to eat and my dad began to pass the food around. My mother said, “Aren’t we going to bless the food?” My dad answered, “I already blessed it in the kitchen when I burned my finger.” I think we can all imagine the words he used when he met with some painful resistance.

Let’s look at resistance. Don’t we hate resistance? We often are simply annoyed with resistance, but don’t we often hate resistance? How does this relate to the desire to have our “soul” or something of our being go to a better place where there are no problems and limitations? Isn’t it actually resistance that appears to give us our so–called problems and limitations? Where would the world be if we didn’t have resistance? What if there was no resistance to driving that nail? I suppose it would jump up there and push itself into the board. We would have no use for a hammer, would we? We wouldn’t even need to pick up the nail because there would be no resistance of inertia and gravity to the driving element. That means we would be able to think the nail right out of the box. Look! Are we going to have resistance or not?

Stay with me on this! The entire structure that we were building with the lumber wouldn’t require assembly because there would be no resistance to the drive for assembly. What would we do if there were no resistance to assembly? Would we just think the structure into place? What would we need a structure for? We wouldn’t need any protection from the sun, wind, or rain because there would be no resistance to our drive to be protected from the elements of nature. We wouldn’t require our own home for the purpose of privacy because the drive to privacy would not meet with resistance.

Don’t quit on me! We’ve wasted a tremendous amount of energy on this fragmented issue, so take a few more minutes to see this through to completion!

We certainly wouldn’t be going to the market to get food because there would be no resistance to getting food. If we wanted food it would just appear. If we look at, what would we do with food? There would be no resistance to the drive for nutrition. Why would we need nutrition when our bodies would never meet with resistance in the form of breakdown? We would never need to beware of accidents or injuries. We couldn’t cut off the tips of our fingers because that would be a form of resistance to our drive for safety. In fact, why would we need a body when there would be no resistance to our urges? It’s not just that we wouldn’t need a body; a body would be impossible without resistance! Without a body, how would the awareness function receive support? Some of you see the humor in this impossible tale! It’s ludicrous to the point of hilarity. It’s also a quite serious matter. If we really look at this, could there even be an awareness function? There would be nothing of which to be aware! If there were no resistance to our drive to be non-disturbed—to the drive to gain pleasure and escape pain—there could be no stimuli.

Okay, let’s stand back for a minute and look at this. This is our wish for a better place without the problems and limitations. This is our wish, essentially, for no resistance. I’m going to do the repeat thing. Our wish for a better place in the cosmos is to have no problems or limitations, and that really means that we would have no resistance. Don’t stop with some half-assed fragmented view! Finish it! Are we going to have resistance or not? Resistance can’t be a “pick and choose” fragmented thing. We can’t have it both ways can we? Can we have resistance in some ways and not others? Can we sort of have resistance? Without resistance, our existence would be non-existence—not even the existence of a worm or a jellyfish.

We’ve established that we couldn’t have physical bodies without resistance. No stimuli. No awareness …I’m sorry to inform all those who wish to have a place with no problems or limitations in the afterlife, that you will most certainly get your wish. It’s called “dead as a doornail.” The place we wish for is not one iota different from the grave.

Before we move on, do you see where we carried this question about our dream, our wish to have no resistance? Is it clear that the idea of a world with no resistance is a fragmented view? It’s a view of only a piece of the picture. When we carry this through to completion, we find a much different picture. Do you see what we did by chasing this down by starting with something as simple as the resistance of a nail being driven into a board? When I say “carrying it through to completion,” it doesn’t mean that we know everything about it; it means that we carried it through to an end, that we’re seeing a completed picture.

PARTICIPANT: I got part of that business about resistance, but I have to admit that a lot of it got past me. I’m not sure that I’m making all of the connections about drive and resistance.

WW: Understanding the mechanics and value of resistance isn’t something I can do for you. You need to check it out for yourself by repeatedly asking what would happen if nothing came against us in our endeavors. Check it out for a few days to see what you can come up with. It will become more clear as you move from one example to another. Give it a week of effort and if you’re still having trouble seeing the role of resistance, call me and I’ll spend a few minutes getting you kick started.

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