Monday, March 05, 2018




           Dictionary explanations are sometimes roundabout: For example the definition of the word difficult states. “The state or condition of being difficult.” “A situation that is difficult or dangerous.” “A difficult thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand.”

          Another term—self-definition—is less circuitous. Self-definition is the evaluation by oneself of one's worth as an individual, in distinction from one's interpersonal or social roles

I would like to consider the subject of difficulties from the standpoint of Buddhism’s four noble truths:

Difficulties can be very real.

Difficulties can affect every human.

Difficulties are often self-caused.

Difficulties can be dealt with.

Everybody is looking for a quick fix or an easy answer. Whether it's to lose weight or to solve problems, people want a magic pill to make their lives free of difficulties. There's a tendency to believe that what we want is outside of who are already are.

As fulfilling as Zen may be to individuals who practice it, Zen or even Buddhism is not a permanently happy condition of mind and body or an earthly paradise.

Even Shangri-La had some shortcomings.

Life can occasionally be demanding. Sometimes it’s tough to keep ourselves from stress and hardships.

One textbook answer is to stay calm, relax, and remain positive. So, what else is new?

Libraries, bookstores, magazines, and the Internet are all loaded with self-help advice to tide one over tough times. To name a few bits of advice:

Be brave and be a better you.  Never give up, but be confident in what you do.  Realize your hidden potential.  Be strong because things will get better.  God helps us handle what we are given.

Such nuggets are like diets that are guaranteed to make you lose weight. They are countless, and there is a new one every day.

Yes, life can sometimes be challenging, and there are no guaranteed cures.

Getting back to the viewpoint in the noble truths of Buddhism, instead of looking at external circumstances and blaming them for unfortunate life events, define yourself.

First, see if you are creating or causing the trouble.

Then, recognize if you are the culprit.

Next. See if there’s anything you can improve.

Finally, do something to change things.

To counterbalance those previously mentioned hackneyed maxims we can paraphrase a few that are more relevant:

n  Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.  — The Buddha

n  Time does not heal everything but realization and understanding can.  — The Buddha

n  We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves. ― Shunryu Suzuki

n  When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn peace. ― The Dalai Lama


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