The Meaning of Problem

A problem is a non-existent ghost that exists only in the imaginations of people. It gets its sustenance from desires, expectations and conditionings.

The happenings are just happenings. The Sun rising in the east or the rivers flowing into the ocean are just innocuous occurrences. They are neither good nor bad. But if one lives in a desire that these occurrences should not happen, they can start tormenting the mind. A situation, an environment or a person is considered a problem when the fulfilment of desires is delayed or hampered due to them.

When one attains the ability to detach from one’s shoulds’ and should nots’, one’s perspective becomes impersonal and hence, realistic. This leads to acceptance of the reality as it is – without interference and expectations. The problems no longer remain problems. They become opportunities to practice freedom, peace, love and endurance.   

Let us do a simple contemplation exercise:

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Now think about the last few months of your life. Let the various activities you have been doing unfold – all the important steps that you took in those months. Think for a few minutes and ask yourself these questions:

What have you been doing in these months?


Does your life have any problems?

In the future, do you think your problems will continue?

Write down your answers to all these questions in your journal. 

Now think about the ideal life you want to live which you think will be free from problems.

 Write this down also.

 Ask yourself again:

Are not these two kinds of lives just the imaginations of your mind?

Where do the problems exist?

What is a problem after all?

When your desires get fulfilled, do you think you will be free from problems?

 A Problem also means dependence upon something / somebody other than you and trying to control it in a specific way. You have a ‘mine’ connection with something / somebody and it makes you expectant, dependent or controlling. It can be a friend, a relative, your future, your past, money, environment, situation etc. Things are what they are in this world. They will be the way they will be. People are also what they are. If you just let things / people be, i.e., if you let go of your control and desires, where are the problems? But if you have several shoulds’ and should nots’, you invite ‘problems’ and let them stay as your guests in your home.

Where is it that your problems and happiness / unhappiness reside? Is it not in your mind only – ONLY? The most important question for you is: What kind of a mind do you want to have? That object called your mind is your very own property. If you handle it effectively, it can give you enormous joy. If you try to remain involved in its impulses, it can give you that real-looking trouble. It is very much within your control to bring about the desired changes in your mind. After all, you will appreciate that ‘problem’ or ‘no problem’, you are just involved in two different kinds of mental formations. These are your own mental formations. There is a great possibility of developing the skill to choose which mental formations you want to have and which ones you don’t want to. And when you gain this ability, you become a free person.