Ignorance which arises from the lack of proper understanding of the nature of life and the mere imaginations regarding the nature of inherent cosmic laws – this is the main cause of all human problems.
As long as man’s mind is clouded by ignorance of the truth of human existence and of the laws that govern its existence, man’s life will involve suffering of various nature – problems and difficulties, worries and miseries, conflicts and disappointments.
Out of ignorance you create your own suffering which you then share with your fellowmen. The miseries and worries that come to you are due to worldly conditions, your unbalanced and undeveloped mind, and the reactions of evil practices done by you. Whilst the unbalanced mind is easily swayed and troubled by worldly conditions such as profit and loss, praised and blamed, fame and ill-fame, sorrow and happiness, the undeveloped mind prolongs the sway and increased the trouble by its very adamant attitude – blaming yourself or other people and external sources for all your troubles and disturbances.
If you avoid blaming yourself as well as others, you will understand that you are responsible for everything that happens in this world and that there is no world without you. In the highest level of thinking, you should see things as they really are, not as you are. Then you will know that you are responsible for everything.
It is one thing to realize that you are also responsible for all the troubles and problems that come to you. It is another thing to know what you must do to overcome the disturbances that come to you through other people and external sources.
When somebody does something wrong to you owing to his ignorance, misunderstandings and human emotions, then it is time for you to reveal and to utilize your wisdom, your education, your sympathy and your religious background.
It is when others do wrong to you that you must take these actions as opportunities for you to get rid of your defilements and to practise and develop the noble virtues of patience, tolerance and understanding. If you know how to make good use of these noble humane qualities, then you will be able to realise how they can be of great help to relieve you from many of the enormous miseries and sufferings that burden your life.
To take revenge on your troublemaker is to invite more problems and difficulties. Negative feelings and negative actions only bring hatred and suffering to you and your troublemaker. In order to take revenge you have to create hatred and anger in your own minds thus polluting it. This hatred and anger is like a poisonous substance which is secreted, by the glands in your own body. Please remember that when you are going to throw cow dung or mud at another person, you will first have to dirty your own hands. By hating and getting angry with others, you only give them power over you, but you do not solve your problems. Such behaviour make you no better than your enemies.
The Buddha says, “Ah, happily do we live without hate amongst the hateful. Amidst the hateful men, we live without hate.”
Perhaps you may not be strong enough or good enough to love your enemies, but for the sake of your own health and happiness, you must learn at least to forgive and forget.
Many people do evil because of their ignorance and you should not curse them or condemn them into eternal suffering. Instead you should try to correct them, without showing your emotions, that they are wrong and point out where they have gone wrong. With this understanding, you can treat the evildoer as a patient who is suffering from a sickness. If you can help to remove the cause of the sickness then the patient can be cured and can be well and happy.
Try to follow the good example set by the Buddha who always returned food for evil. The Buddha said, “The more evil that comes to me, the more good will radiate from me.” Some people think that it is not practical to return good for evil. Try and see for yourself. If you find that it is too difficult to return good for evil, then you can still do a great service to yourself and to others by not returning evil for evil.
Remember that whatever happens you cannot feel hurt if you know how to keep a balanced mind. You are hurt only by the mental attitude that you adopt towards others. No one can hurt you unless you allow him to hurt you. If another person blames or scolds you and if you are following the Dharma, the Dharma will protect you from the unjust attacks. The Buddha says. “Whoever harms a harmless person, one pure and guiltless, upon that very fool the evil recoils like find dust thrown against the wind.” If you allow others to be successful in hurting you, you are responsible.
To protect whatever inner peace and calm you have managed to create within your mind, you must know when to surrender yourself; you must know when to throw away your pride; when to subdue your false ego and when to change your adamant attitude or false conviction.
To guard yourself from unjust criticism and how to make use of constructive criticism, you must look objectively at whatever criticism that others give to you. If the criticism that comes to you is just, well founded and given with good intention, then accept that criticism and put it to use.
However if the criticism that comes to you is unjust and ill founded and given with bad intention, you are under no obligation to accept this kind of criticism. If you know that your attitude is correct and appreciated by wise and cultured people then do not worry about the ill-founded criticism. Your attitude towards both constructive and destructive criticism is important.
Unnecessary worry and troubles can be avoided by not comparing yourself with others. So long as you regard others as your ‘superior’, ‘equal’ or as your ‘inferior’, you will continue to have problems to worry about. If you think you are better than others, you may become proud; if you think you are equal to others you may stagnate; if you think you are inferior to others you may become useless to yourself and to others.
Comparing yourself with others can be a source of unnecessary worry. Try to realize that superiority, equality and inferiority are all changing, relative states; at one time you may be a beggar, at another time you may be a rich person. In the endless rounds within the oceans of life and death, we are all equal, inferior and superior to each other at different times. So why worry.
If at all you have to make any comparison, then you should compare the degree of your problems and difficulties with that experienced by others. Whenever problems and difficulties arise you must realize that you are not the only ones in the world with such problems. Many others are worse off than you and yet they do not worry unduly. You should also realize how you have gone through many problems and difficulties, under similar or worse situations and, somehow or other you have managed to overcome your difficulties to ‘drown you’. You have to develop your self-confidence and face the worst of situations in this manner.
There are various ways and means for you to reduce your mental agony and happiness. First and foremost, you must try to understand the nature of the world where you live. You must never expect everything in this world to be perfect and to run smoothly all the time. You must be prepared to face difficulties. The more you crave for worldly pleasures the more you have to be prepared to pay the price in terms of physical and mental agony. There is nothing free in this world.
Human nature being what it is, all of us are incline to put the blame on others for our own shortcomings or misfortunes. The sooner we realize that our shortcomings are due to our own ignorance of the real nature of life and the laws which govern it, the sooner we will be able to realize that bliss incomparable and peace eternal. Our sorrows are not caused by a family curse that is handed down from one generation to the next nor are they caused by the original sin of some ancestor who has returned from beyond the graves to haunt us. Nor are our sorrows and miseries created by God or by Devil. Our sorrows and miseries are our own making. We are our own jailer; we are our own liberator.
- Author Unknown