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Why All Problems Are Not Problems

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  • NamoAmituofo
    TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 15.01.06 Get this newsletter | TDE-Weekly Archive ____________________________________ Realisation: Why All Problems Are Not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2006
      TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 15.01.06

      Get this newsletter | TDE-Weekly Archive
      Why All Problems Are Not Problems

      "When you're deluded, every statement is an ulcer; when you're enlightened, every word is wisdom." - Zhiqu

      There is only "one single glaring problem" with our lives. That problem is that "We have problems". If this problem doesn't exists, I wouldn't be here talking about it, and you wouldn't understand. And there would be no need to practise Buddhism or do any thing in "pursuit" of happiness at all. The term the Buddha used to sum up this trouble we have is "Dukkha" - which was often translated as "suffering", but more accurately, it is "dissatisfaction". Yes, life has dissatisfactions aplenty. Dukkha is the experience of "dis-ease", from the cradle to the grave - ranging from mild dizziness to "unbearable" labour pains, from a tiny rude shock to manic depression - you get the idea. As the Buddha put it, physically, birth, ageing, sickness and death is "suffering". Mentally, being with the loathed, being apart from the loved and not getting what one wants is "suffering". Dukkha is that primal and central. Dukkha even preceded the Buddha's quest for enlightenment, as He was motivated by compassion to search for wisdom to end Dukkha, driven by the plight of the universal sentient condition. 

      Life seems pretty good for me at the moment... but there is "one single glaring problem" that mars the "perfection" of here and now - I have an ulcer on a corner of my lower lip. I tried to ignore it for days - eating and drinking as I normally do. Of course, this aggravated it - it "grew" larger, becoming a small gaping "hell-hole" of sorts, that stings with pain whenever accidentally touched. Yes, it's the recurring highlight of my Dukkha at the moment. Upon reflection, this problem is clearly the result of my three poisons. Being greedy, I had chomped on my food too fast, biting my lip in a slip of unmindfulness, creating a wound which became the ulcer. Somewhat resentful of the ulcer, I ignored it in bad faith. And it was delusion that perpetuated this pain, by not applying medication, thinking it would just go away! There you are - greed, hatred and delusion! All other problems of ours are likewise from the interplay of this trio. Mindful of this, we can cultivate the solutions to our problems by generating their opposites -generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom. It struck me that if I do not even take adequate care of a simple ulcer, I have little "right" to think I can "take care" of my enlightenment!

      Thankfully, like the illusion of having a "self" that suffers, Dukkha is "empty" - in that it is subject to change, and has no inherent fixed nature or self. Problems are problems only when taken personally to be concretely real. Yes, problems do not inherently exist - they are "problems" only when attached to out of greed, hatred and delusion. They are problematic only when we do nothing to solve them, when we can. They are also problematic when there is truly nothing we can do to solve them, while we live in denial, instead of graciously making peace with the "problem" - which is more of a unchangeable situation at that moment - till it changes otherwise. The most succinct problem-solving advice I'd ever encountered is this wonderfully simple teaching from the Bodhisattva Shantideva - "If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? (Just solve it!) If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying? (Just let it go!)" Any problem is thus no problem! No need to fret or fear. Now... Do you have some physical or mental "ulcers" of your own to heal too? What are you waiting for? Healing ulcers by applying medication might be sharply painful for a while - but it is less painful than letting the pain persist indefinitely! Why not mindfully embrace the necessary pains of ovecoming pain? No need to relish in pain, or be averse to it - just be aware of it. You might just realise that "Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional!"
       - Shen Shi'an

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