By Cem Sen October 2nd, 2014

It’s the biggest problem of internal work: a human being wants to stay the same but have everything else change. This error is born out of not understanding that both what we call a problem, and what we call the self, are the same thing.

I always ask the same question to any student that comes to me with a problem : “Are you ready to let go of the problem?” They look at me like I’ve just asked a very peculiar question and answer me with another question: “Would I be here if that wasn’t the case?” Not paying attention to their question, I say to them: “Don’t worry; nothing is going to happen to your treasured problem. When you come back, you are going to find it right here, waiting for you. Your problem is never going to be harmed. Whenever you’d like, you can go back to suffering.

You need to assure people that they can happily suffer; otherwise they will not want to let go of the pain and the suffering. I see a resistance to change in those who are training seriously, even those who are completing their second or third year of their Way of the Heart training.

I, is the internal name we give to problem. Problem, is the externalized definition we use for I.

No one can start looking for solutions to their basic problems without being ready to change what they call "I". That is why most people want to change without wanting to change. We want to continue doing what we have been, but do not want to be suffering as a result of it.

We often live this:

Student: Teacher, my stomach aches.

I: Hmm. Oh you’re eating mint. Did you realize you were eating mint? Stop eating mint.

A little while later…

Student: Teacher, my stomach aches.

I: I wonder why? Let’s see. By the way, you aren’t eating mint, right?

Student: I am.

I: Okay, stop eating mint.

A little while later…

Student: Teacher, my stomach aches.

I: Wonder why this time. Oh But you’re eating mint. Stop eating mint.

Student: Okay teacher.

A little while later…

Student: Teacher, my stomach aches.

I: Mint.

Student: Okay okay!

Sometimes, this is the point where one seeks out a different teacher or a different method. It hasn’t become clear to the student that the problem is continuing to do the same thing, but he or she has become convinced that the problem is the method.

Or sometimes the student pauses here and realizes…

Student: Teacher, I found it!

I: What did you find?

Student: I found the reason for my problem!

I: How wonderful! What is it?

Student: Teacher, I’ve been eating mint!

I: Hmmm, how interesting! What are you planning on doing about it?

Student: I’m planning on not eating mint. What do you think?

I: I think it's a lovely plan. I congratulate you.

I am sure you think the above conversation is a joke.

…but it’s not!

Change is going to happen when you realize you want to change without changing, when you let go of your judgements, what you are holding on to so dearly and your habits which you call “I”. Until then, you are going to continue eating mint, thinking the problem is elsewhere.

Translated by Deniz Dinler