We think about physical problems without even trying. We so good at that, we think about most spiritual problems as if they're physical ones. Many of us don't even have the concept of spiritual problems which call for a very different approach. When we regard spiritual problems as physical problems, we make more costly problems for ourselves.
Physical problems call for defensive action. We may be in danger of getting suffocated, burnt, frozen, starved, poisoned, stabbed, choked, crushed, or dismembered. The threat is physical so the effective solution is equally physical. The kind of thinking we do in these situations it literal, reactive and focused. We launch into taking immediate action that attacks the problem with a vengeance. This is no time to take a longer or more nuanced view of the dangers. There's no tolerance for solutions which rely on our imagination, creativity or divine inspiration.
Spiritual problems, on the other hand, call for defenseless action. They present evidence of conflict between two or more living intentions. Solutions can be found in the spirit of connection, common interest and fearless faithfulness in invisible sources of solutions. The opposing interests need an approach that blesses it, shows no resistance to it and extends peace to it. The solutions come to minds which are calm, receptive and expectant. The solutions work for both living intentions in ways that cannot be foreseen by defensive outlooks.
In my personal experience with spiritual solutions, they often involve:
- letting go of my own one-sided interests and my fearful belief in the conflict
- understanding the conflict as a lesson for me, a wake-up call or an opening to a bigger understanding
- denying the evidence of conflict in favor of an imagined resolution, freedom for all and transformation of the situation
- getting underneath the opposing demands to their underlying issues, concerns and secondary interests
- framing the other side as predictable when it maintains the conflict and as mysterious when it makes peace
- making a unilateral concession to change the tone, de-escalate the context and demonstrate my intention to collaborate
- giving the opposing interests permission to persist until they come to more disturbing realizations
Spiritual solutions like these do not come to mind when we assume we're dealing with physical problems. We become far too tense and reactive to receive this kind of inspiration when we being defensive. We're assuming we need attack the problem with a vengeance, not surrender to it. We have no faith in any ongoing process, invisible assistance or influence when we're out of control. It's only when we're thinking the problem is spiritual that we can acquire the harmonious sense to do the right thing for all the interests.