The problem with problems

Typically when weighing the choice between two options, at any level from self to world, the fact is they’re both weighing you down. Dilemmas and problems are often just misrecognitions of the facts at hand, ready to dissipate at a moment’s rethinking.

The very process of thought with which we consider our personal and social “problems” is conditioned and controlled by the content which it seems to be considering so that, generally speaking, this though can neither be free nor even really honest. What is called for, then, is a deep and intense awareness, going beyond the imagery and intellectual analysis of our confused process of thought, and capable of penetrating to the contradictory presuppositions and states of feeling in which the confusion originates. Such awareness implies that we be ready to apprehend the many paradoxes that reveal themselves in our daily lives, in our larger-scale social relationships, and ultimately in the thinking and feeling that appear to constitute the “innermost self” in each one of us.

In essence, therefore, what is needed is to go on with life in its wholeness and entirety, but with sustained, serious, careful attention to the fact that the mind, through centuries of conditioning, tends, for the most part, to be caught in paradoxes, and to mistake the resulting difficulties for problems.

David Bohm, “The Problem And The Paradox,” On Dialogue