Shahriar Shahriari

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Message of the Month

September, 2004


What do you do when you reach an impasse? What is a spiritually appropriate solution?

When nations reach an impasse, often they engage in war, and fight it out in the battlefield. Companies fight out their contractual impasses in court. People take their impasses up to an intermediary – be it in the form of a judge, an arbitrator, a mediator, an expert, or even an elder.

Yet all of these approaches lack a certain element of selfhood.

The military might of the contending nations determines the outcome of a war. The legal prowess of the corporate counsels will affect the decision of the judge or the jury. The impartiality and wisdom of the intermediary will impact the resolution of the personal impasse. However, in all of these cases, there is an element of dissatisfaction remaining, mainly with the party that does not perceive the outcome as favorable.

So is there a real win-win solution? Is there a morally correct approach?

In a mythical sense, an impasse to a greater or lesser degree is the equivalent of ending up in the belly of the whale. We don’t really understand how we got there in the first place, and we certainly don’t see a way out.

No matter how hard we try, the creature is much bigger than we are. And inside the belly, it is completely unknown and possibly even unknowable territory. We don’t really know how the other person, entity or nation thinks and feels. We cannot predict their next reaction or response. We are completely in the dark as far as what lies ahead.

So what to do?

If mythology is an indication, the answer lies within the creature of the deep itself. It is up to the whale to spit us out. We can try to provoke it, but comparatively speaking, we are so insignificant that we have little hope and even less knowledge of how to provoke it to eject us.

There is a theory that the creature of the deep is the mythical representation of the unconscious. So if myth is a guide, while the answer lies outside of our conscious mind, it is within our reach through appealing to the powers of our subconscious and unconscious mind.

It is almost akin to prayer. Appeal to the deeper powers, and patiently wait for the outcome to emerge… generally in ways that are unimaginable and unconceivable, even miraculous. And if myth is predictive, at some point in the future, completely unbeknownst to us, we will find ourselves outside of the belly of the whale… breaking through the impasse… perhaps never ever realizing how we did it. This is the power and miracle of the deep self.

Of course, we can always choose to engage in war…

© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
September 2004

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