What Is vs. What Should Be

One way to think about the conflict that we are trying to resolve, to settle, is that it is between what is and what should be. When we are focused on what should be we are directing our energy to becoming. And becoming always denies what is. It is the denial of what is in favor of an idea of something better. That is the conflict: between what is and what should be.

It seems to me that we can only make that statement, however, if there is an “I.” There has to be something that is discontented with what is, projects something else, and thus makes a future in which that something else comes to fruition. What is it that is not content but will be in the future once X, Y and Z happen? It must be the separated self. Somehow we have gotten hold of this idea that what we are is subject to time, to improvement, to a state of becoming.

And “we” – that separated self – is deeply invested in itself and in its improvement, its view of things.

It is almost like a loop in a computer program. There’s a blip and it just circles around on itself. If A then B. If B then A. If A . . . and on and on and on. And somehow that loop has to be broken. There needs to be a way out of it. We are doing something and we don’t believe we are doing it and so we think we are powerless. These thoughts just keep coming, that world out there just keeps buzzing along . . .

It is like something David Bohm said years ago in On Dialogue: thought is very active but the process of thought thinks that it is doing nothing. Or as A Course in Miracles puts it: “the secret to salvation is but this: you are doing this unto yourself ( T-27.VIII.10:1).”

I think we have to see this. We have to realize that it is happening in our own thoughts and that is where it is going to have to be ended or resolved. If we agree that forgiveness is right seeing, then we might say that we have to “see” our thoughts – we have to “see” that we are doing this to ourselves. Really, it’s no good blaming God or Jesus. It’s us.

That is hard to do. It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to be able to see it and engage with it and bring it to an end. We have to be very vigilant. We have to notice when we are slipping into time, into the self that depends on time. It’s very destabilizing because everything has to go. We can’t hold onto anything. Any impulse to protect our selves – to preserve our selves – is the separation, the very problem. It’s tiring to keep seeing it come up over and over! And yet the noticing is helpful. Wanting to change it is helpful. Just as built this deceptive egoic self and gave it rein, so we can undo it and experience what is.

It begins with letting go of what should be – any time we are giving in to that thinking, be it related to our work, our bodies, our partners, our families, our communities, whatever – then we have to simply release it. Let it go. And in letting go, look around. The perfect present is here. It surrounds us. Can we see it? Can we feel it? It asks nothing of us but attention.

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