Rock and not roll

19 February 2011 - 11:02pm Comments Off

We have to be a rock and not roll…nothing is accomplished by running away.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

When we are faced with problems or difficulties, the first thought in our mind is to avoid them. This aversion and resistance builds up when the problems do not go away or they recur. This is the beginning of our frustration and unhappiness which characterises much of our lives.

Buddhism does not make problems go away. The Buddha gave us knowledge and taught us methods to deal with them and to eventually overcome them. Therefore problems are not the real problem; pretending problems are not there or living in denial is the actual problem. By side-stepping our problems, we create more problems for ourselves instead of resolving them.

A common response when we experience difficulties is to blame others for our woes. However, blaming is not an effective solution. Instead, blaming diverts our energy elsewhere, which could be better put towards finding a solution for our problems. When we blame others, effectively we shift the responsibility to others. By passing it on to others, we lose control of our own well-being.

The only things we should ignore are our concerns, worries and anxieties. These sap our energy to deal with problems, so we are unable to exert effort to find and apply the cure.

There are three types of knowledge which we can draw upon to improve our situation.

  • Personal knowledge is very limiting due to our narrow sphere of learning and experiences. Our personal knowledge is good for minor problems
  • Worldly / common knowledge is broader in scope and drawn from others who are specialists or experts in their fields. This includes the whole spectrum of scientific knowledge and modern philosophies of our time. Worldly knowledge is very useful in improving the quality of our life, if we can accept they only provide temporary relief from our problems. That is their forte
  • Spiritual knowledge is the most potent because it addresses our problems and their causes directly. How spiritual one is depends on how much we want to face the truth or see the true nature of things. Following the path of the Buddha is a good starting point to develop spirituality. When we understand that the source of problems lies within our mind, we are stepping onto the spiritual path. With sustained practice, our mind becomes less confused, clearer, more stable, increasing in strength and positivity. Such progress will equip us with the confidence, patience and courage to face problems. It will also helps us to apply correct remedies to reduce and eradicate our problems. When we face up to our problems like this, we do not roll away or allow our clouded ‘why me’ thoughts to drag us down. We face them steadfastly knowing where their weakest points lie, and where their source lies. We welcome problems as opportunity to train our mind. We see them as challenges, not fearing them as heavy burdens.

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