Deep down inside, the overwhelming majority of our problems come from us expecting things to go smoothly and for their to not be problems. Then, when things go wrong, we wish it was otherwise and we become frustrated. We then make ourselves miserable, our frustration makes those around us miserable, and when we act based upon that frustration we almost invariably respond to the problem in such a way that we make the situation worse. One of the main reasons we need to ‘know suffering’ is because we need to learn that the very nature of samsara is problems. There will always be problems, the only question is which ones will arise today. We should not be surprised when problems arise, they always will. We need to accept this fact as just the nature of things. So the focus is not on wishing it was otherwise, rather it is accepting that this is part of life. The question of each day is not whether there will be any problems, because there always will be. The question is which problems will arise today. Our day is then to work through those problems with a happy, accepting mind.
A related problem is we expect to not have to work. We wish we had no responsibilities and that we did not have to do anything. Then, when life obliges us to do things, we become frustrated or resentful of that fact. We then have to force ourseves to work. Everything becomes a struggle. I see occasionally these people who so don’t want to do anything that they can barely hold their heads up. They usually rub their faces a lot and hold their heads in their hands. They are exhausted and everything for them is a giant struggle. The reason is they wish they did not have to do anything, and so they are resentful of the fact that they do, they feel put upon that they have to. We need to learn to fully embrace the fact that there will always be work to do. Work is not something to be avoided, rather it is something that we grow through. Just like there will always be endless problems in samsara, so too there will always be endless work to do. This is not a problem, it is just the way things are. The sooner we embrace this fact, we will stop resisting this and start working with it. It is through working that we move ourselves forward and grow as a person.
These two mistakes: expecting there to not be any problems and expecting to not have to do any work are at the source of the overwhelming majority of frustrations and problems faced by people of the modern world.
One thought on “Accepting that there will always be problems and embracing that there is work to be done”
I’ve thought about this one a lot through the years.
Buddha said that mind actually creates problems, creates a problematic samsara. According to Nagarjuna and the other clear thinkers, there are no problems as such. We actually intend problems into being. It doesn’t mean taking no action, it means how things are perceived.
What happens when we expect problems to appear? The worrier. Well that person sees problems where they do not exist.
What happens when we expect there to be problems YET accept that in reality this is what will appear to our samsaric mind, pervaded by apparent problems? The subtle difference here is that we see ‘problem’ without creating a problem. As Kadam Engen suggests ‘Our day is then to work through those problems with a happy, accepting mind.’
A mind of joyful renunciation sees all problems resolved. It’s future technology of the enlightened mind.