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What Causes You Trouble and Suffering?

June 23, 2018

 

When the Cause is clear, a Solution to Your Problems is in Sight

 

Let us read one chapter from a best-selling book written by Kazushi Okamoto, a Buddhist teacher

 

When, at the age of thirty-five, Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, he stated, “Life is suffering.” Sometimes people think about someone else, “Oh, he seems so happy, completely without troubles.” But Shakyamuni would say, “Even someone like that is, in fact, suffering. There is not a single person who does not suffer in some way.” 


I often get questions about various problems via my blog and my email newsletter. These range from human relations in the family or workplace to romantic relationships, how to study properly, and even such very serious matters as the loss of a sense of purpose in life. 

 

Listening to the problems these people present to me, I have learned something, which is that if you have a clear idea of why you are unhappy, most of that unhappiness can be resolved. 

 

 

On the other hand, if you don’t know why you are unhappy, then you tend to become unnecessarily anxious, prone to anger, and given to blowing problems out of proportion. 

 

If, for example, you don’t understand what is wrong with you when you are feeling unwell, you will feel more and more anxious. You’ll keep wondering if it isn’t some really serious illness. But if you go to the hospital for diagnosis and are told that it is a case of gastritis, you won’t need to worry any longer about what it might be. All you need to do is have the condition treated. 

 

If, as you listen to what he or she has to say, you can determine just what the person is worried about, the way to a solution of the problem often becomes clear. 

 

For example, the mother of a third-year student in middle school explained that her son had been avoiding school recently. I visited their home and was able to talk to the boy. When he seemed relaxed, I asked him about school, if he was enjoying it. 

 

“Not really,” he said in a faint voice. 

 

“I see. But I’m sure not everything is boring to you. There must be some things you like.” 

 

“I like the student club I belong to.” “You do? What club is that? . . . I see. Yes, that sounds like fun. So, what is it that you dislike?” 

 

“Math.” 

 

 

It turned out that the boy wasn’t good at mathematics and couldn’t understand what was going on in class. That’s why he didn’t want to go to school. He had a problem with fractions in particular. He ought to have mastered them in grade school but had entered middle school without ever learning how to handle them. And he was too embarrassed to discuss this with anyone. 

 

“Well then, it’s not school itself that you dislike, it’s math. And you don’t have problems with all of math, just with fractions. Once you master fractions, you’ll start to enjoy math. So trust me, and do what I ask until our next meeting.” I gave him materials for drills on fractions. 

 

According to his mother, he worked hard at his fraction drills and started getting much better grades in math. His parents had been worried that he wouldn’t be able to get into high school, but he managed it beautifully. 

 

Sometimes if there is one aspect of a thing that we dislike, we come to dislike the whole thing. But that’s as pointless as saying, “I don’t like this one tree, so I dislike the whole mountain where this tree stands.” What a shame to deprive yourself of the maple leaves and chestnuts and mushrooms, the acorns and babbling brooks and chirping birds that are also part of the mountain. If you understand that you have a problem not with the mountain as a whole but with just one tree on it, you won’t have to deprive yourself of those other wonderful things. 

 

When you feel troubled, why not give yourself some time to think about what it is that is really troubling you? You will often find that it was not such a serious problem after all, become more relaxed about the situation, and readily discover the solution to your problem.

 

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #51 | 2015, What Causes You Trouble and Suffering?

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