Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” One story has it that the angel he was talking about was his famous statue of David, sculpted from a marble block that other sculptors had refused because it contained flaws. Spiritually, this gives us a metaphor and a wonderful question: How do we see the angel in the “flawed” block of our experience? One of the paradoxical statements found in Field theory is, “The problem and the solution are the same thing.” This means that, in practice, if we resist the problem, we actually are resisting the solution. Two things keep us from seeing the solution hiding in the problem, the angel hiding in the marble block: our commitment to the payoff that belongs to the so-called problem, and our unwillingness to accept responsibility for our role as the co-creator of our experience.
Field theory gives us technique that can help us recognize the old payoff and take responsibility for it, which means becoming aware that we’re choosing it, so we can knowingly choose something better. This technique, called the “Decisive Question,” is presented and explained in the Course. A variation of it, however, may also allow us to release the angel from the stone. To try it, consider some fulfillment that’s been eluding you, and ask yourself, “What does the opposite of this fulfillment prevent?” Another way to ask is, “What does the loss of this problem require of me?” The Decisive Question, in any form, interrupts the mind’s tendency either to toss out an unexamined answer or to scan the question for merely rational or intellectual relevance. With the mind disarmed, even for a few moments, we’re open to a deeper response from the heart, which already knows the truth and value of every choice we’re making. Taking what Field theory calls “radical responsibility” means we recognize that we are requiring the problem, and doing so for a good reason. Rather than reactively striving to eliminate it, then, we can sit down and listen to what it has to say. We can accept that both losing the problem and accepting the fulfillment we want would cost us something, and we can become willing to pay the price we deliberately choose, rather than keep paying an unexamined price unwittingly.