Instead of asking “Why is this happening?” a more skillful question is “How shall I move through this?”
We language our lives. Do we need to torment ourselves by asking “Why? Why? Why is this happening?”
Our words create stories that we come to believe. The word “why” evokes a different mental state than the word “how.”
“Why is this happening?” is an unanswerable question, as there are innumerable subtle causes and conditions that have brought this situation to pass. Anything we come up with will not adequately answer the question, and will most often leads us astray.
We simply don’t really know all the causes and conditions that have blossomed into this moment.
Thus Mark Nepo names asking why a sort of demon.
Instead we can call up our helpful angels by asking “How will I work with this situation?” Since it is here it must be worked through.
And then listen!
A wise Buddhist teacher put it this way:
Clarity helps bring workable solutions.
With practice and skillful intention we discover we can work with any energy. This takes patience and a very quiet mind. Solutions come from careful contemplation, rather than blaming and inflaming the mind.
There is always a way through. It is an inward way that requires deep listening and following the guidance received.
Blaming and complaining takes us a on a very bumpy road filled with many potholes and dead ends.
You can prove the difference in the use of “Why” and “How” by bringing to mind a problematic situation and asking, “Why is this happening?”
As you question why note the agitation in the mind. Note how you may leap to conclusions that are really faulty. You may find yourself mentally wringing your hands, feeling victimized, or blaming someone. If so you will be projecting your fear and anger onto yourself or others, rather than letting anger be a wakeup call, announcing there is a situation that is off course and needs a new solution.
And after expending all this energy you find you still haven’t solved the problem.
This is a torment to the soul.
Now bring the same situation to mind and ask “How will I meet this?”
And then listen. One way to quiet the mind is to focus on something simple, such as the breath. Using this as an anchor the mind begins to quiet so that you can begin to let go of the tight way you have been holding the problem.
As the mind calms through focusing on the breath (this may take 20 or 30 minutes) a spaciousness may be sensed, allowing new ideas to emerge. At least the quietness brings a feeling of peace.
You have just summoned your angels.
As stress levels lower that sense of worry and urgency lessen. Sitting quietly this way a new confidence is developed. There is a way through this situation.
Eventually an idea arises. Perhaps several. Answers begin to take shape.
Rather than clamping down quickly on the first possibility it is good to ask “And what else?”
This practice is worth developing. We all need help from angels. They often speak through the people around us—or come to us in many strange guises.
Angels are always here for us. To hear them we only need to ask more open ended questions.
This is all a process. It works best if we allow things to unfold in their own time and season, which is not what the go wants to hear.
Don’t give up on your angels. They never give up on you!