I left office a little early today, and took one of the two main routes I can take to reach home - the one that had to cross an intersection of 5 roads into a small circle. As happens at times, I got caught in a traffic tangle at this junction and had to put my luck and cunning to good use to free myself from it. While I was at this task, I felt that traffic management at that junction was a problem. Or, rather, the intersection, which was not a result of poor design but that of an absolute lack of any design, was itself a problem that would inevitably lead to such situations. Or perhaps the attitude of the drivers who make it difficult for all by thinking only of themselves and ending up in a "dominant strategy equilibrium" that is unfavourable to all is the real problem. The fact that there were so many cars, because nobody cared to use public transport, also added to the problem, I thought.
Having thus compounded the web of traffic with a more intricate web of thoughts in my own mind, when I finally got out of that situation, I realized something. The narrow roads and the intersection remained; the junction still did not have a signal or a policeman to guide the high traffic that was still pouring in. The attitude of the drivers, the number of cars, or the disposition of people towards public transport had hardly changed. But the problem ceased to exist (for me), because I was no longer in it. So the real problem was not any of the facts that I had enumerated, but the single fact that I was a part of the situation. And when I am not a part of it any more, the problem is solved.
Now, you could say I am just being selfish because I don't care about others who are stuck in traffic, but only want to save myself. What's more, you might think that it is this attitude of people that causes most problems in this world. But believe me, this attitude is not something that I invented - it is there in each of us (perhaps to varying degrees depending on what we identify with/as our self). After all, none of us care about the traffic problems of a far away city that we'll never have to visit. We worry about the traffic problems of our own city because it affects our lives. We're saddened by the plight of others because deep within we have a fear that we may ourselves be similarly affected. All that we see in this world affects us through the medium of our identification with it - and the things that we identify less with affect us to a lesser extent.
Understanding this makes it simple for us to make all the problems in this world vanish - simply by realizing that they we are in no way involved with any of them. This body might be involved - but the real I, has no real connection with this body or this mind. So anything that affects this body does not affect me. I don't have to solve all the problems in this world - I just have to understand that they I am beyond all of them, and they have no way to get to me - just as in the case of a traffic problem in a distant city. This realization, hard as it is to attain, is the panacea for all the problems in this world!