Lessons for Living
"The 84th Problem"

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Do you have the 84th problem?









"You can't run away from trouble. There ain't no place that far."  ~ Uncle Remus

What do you do when life unexpectedly hands you another problem? When things don't go your way? Do you accept is as a fact of life and understand that it's just the way life sometimes is? Or, you do begin complaining about the unfairness of it all. Perhaps you are like the old farmer who, in an effort to find relief from his problems, sought out the Buddha's advice.

The story goes that the farmer had many complaints. He told the Buddha all about how difficult his life was. It seemed that the weather never cooperated the way that he wanted. It was either too wet or too dry, so his crops often failed. Also, while his wife was a good woman, she was much too critical of him, and lately his children were showing no gratitude for anything that he did for them. Furthermore, his neighbors were much too nosey and seemed to always be interfering in his affairs by spreading gossip about him.

The farmer, finishing his list of complaints, looked expectantly to the Buddha for a solution and was surprised when the Buddha said the he could not help him. According to the Buddha all human beings have 83 problems and that is just the way life is. While you can work hard and solve a few problems, once you do others will soon take their place. Upon hearing this, the farmer, in exasperation, asked, "Then what is the good of all your teaching?" The Buddha replied, "My teaching can't help you with the 83 problems, but perhaps it can help with the 84th." "What's that?" the farmer asked. "The 84th problem," the Buddha said, "is that you don't want to have any problems."

Does this sound familiar? Do you suffer from the 84th problem and make yourself miserable over the fact that you have problems? If so, the good news is that this problem can be solved. All you have to do is learn to accept life, as it is, difficulties and all.

Accepting that life has problems does not mean falling into despair and giving up. It simply involves understanding that as human beings there is no escape from tribulations, and this is normal. It is even true of the "rich and famous" that we might imagine as having a problem-free life until we learn of a tragedy that befalls a one of them. Then we are surprised at how much like us they are. Their problem humanizes them, and we see that everyone is on the same playing field.

Once you accept the inevitability of problems, the challenge is to get busy working on whatever problems you do have. The certainty of having problems does not mean that some of them can't be solved, just that all of them will never go away.

The next time you are stressing-out over the difficulties of life, remind yourself of the 84th problem. Accept that life has problems, and you will have one less to confront.

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