Overcoming problems courageously: a buddhist approach

courageous

Life will likely never be without problems , they are in fact part of daily life. What’s important is how and whether we face them.
Speaking at a buddhist meeting yesterday about the topic of facing our problems courageously I come up with the following  from much reflection.  I hope you can find it useful in your daily life when facing problems that arise. The most important thing is to face them head on. We can’t run away from problems or hide from them, they will only follow us.

‘Dont run away from your problems; face them! Because if you dont deal with your problems they will always be with you. Deal with a problem which arises; face it courageously.’ – Nelson Mandela

His advice is so true, as many of us may know. Never be afraid to face something; if you look within and have faith in a solution, you will always find the answer. There is a solution to every problem no matter how big or small, it is our minds that like to complicate things but there is nothing that can not be overcome and that does not have a higher meaning or purpose if we seek to gain this from it. It is from lifes difficulties that we can often learn and grow the most.

Key points

  1. Trust in yourself – without this you will not feel able to overcome it , you may learn as you go along but if you trust yourself from the start you will know for sure that you can do it.
  2. Practice Compassion – Have compassion for yourself and others. Dont be too hard on yourself and have understanding for where you are currently at in your life. Also with others, by seeking to understand them we can  let go of any anger that would only escalate a situation. If a person is trying to cause you suffering chances are that they are suffering deeply themselves. By seeking to have compassion  for them you let go of any anger or resentment and also any causes which could cause further suffering for you or others involved. You cant change them but you can change your own response which can in turn make a big difference.
  3. Practice Faith – Whatever your faith may be, maintain your practice – Pray, Chant, Meditate and do this daily in your own routine. Having strong faith leads to strong determination, courage and inner peace. When you practice daily these qualities will be there to help you have the strength you need to overcome any problems.
  4. Be Honest and Open – If we are not honest with ourselves we are in denial which takes us back to facing our problems. We can not truly face anything until we are 100% truthful with ourselves and others, therefore the problem will keep coming back until we do. Repressing emotions also causes considerable physical stress which can lead to illness, so although it can be difficult facing problems now, it is actually the easier option.
  5. Give – Give to yourself and give to others, most importantly give time. Time is so important it can never be taken back it is also the thing we always remember, the times we have with people. When you are facing personal problems it can be easy to unintentionally forget others. However as Buddhism teaches, through helping others, our own problems become far smaller because we become part of something much bigger. We can realise that there are others who have similar or much worse problems than ours and that we have something to give them, that we can actually make a difference. We are all actually one big family; if we seek to help and not harm each other the worlds problems will become much smaller. We may think that as one person we can’t do much, but the causes you set can make differences that could go on forever. Never think you are too small to make a difference. As Dalai Lama IV said ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference try sleeping with a mosquito.’
  6. Patience – Cultivate patience within yourself, for yourself and others. Nothing big is usually solved or achieved overnight, things take time. Having faith in the right outcome helps with this. Have that inner knowing that all will be okay.
  7. Have strong determination – Through facing and overcoming problems determination is built , have absolute faith that you can do it and you can transform anything and you will.
  8. Take Action – Last and probably most important – if we dont take action nothing will happen, talk to that person you need to, take that call or whatever step it is you can take to begin facing the situation head on. Often things are not half as bad as we imagine them to be when we actually do take action and face them. If the challenge seems too big to face now then break it down in to small actionable steps that you can manage. Look to others who have overcome similar problems and know in your heart that if they can do it, then you can too.

Lastly to add and it may sound difficult to some, but always look inside for answers. Through our own causes we can create new effects and new situations, this is not about blame, but about empowerment. Through transforming yourself you can then transform your environment.

Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakens. ~ Carl Jung

The Transforming of Pain into Joy

Golden-Head-Buddha

‘ Pain is inevitable, suffering is an option.’~ Buddhist Proverb

What is the purpose of pain and suffering? Is it necessary to go through and can we ever be free from it? These our some of the questions that many of us ask ourselves and that have long been asked throughout humankind. As a practicing buddhist I have come to realise through life and practice what I firmly believe to be the truth of purpose to this difficult part of life, that of transformation.

All life grows and changes and through pain in our lives this is when we often grow the most spiritually and emotionally. Likewise even physically, for example when we have a very good gym session, we will experience some pain afterwards that may be tough to manage for example if it is difficult to walk the next day. However we know that it has a purpose to it – the purpose of growth, all other types of pain also have this purpose.

When I think back to the most difficult times in my life, the greatest benefits have always come out of it, there has always been a lesson to learn. I didnt see it at the time but in the end it always becomes clear. Growth is always happening , it is part of life’s natural force. It will happen naturally whether we want it to or not, the suffering comes when we resist this. As hard as some times can be they will have purpose to your growth as a person, having faith in this may not take the pain away, but it will ease the suffering caused by resisting it.

Whatever it is that causes the pain may be tough at the time, but is a neccesary path of life and growth. In addition the more you triumph over it and realise the victories and benefits you have achieved, the easier it will become. Pain will not scare you anymore because you know that you will grow from it and be able to transorm it in to something more than you can ever imagine at the time.

Pain, emotional or physical is nothing to be scared of, in fact you could even consider it to be your friend, for where would we be if life was so free and easy, in denial perhaps to the true realities of life? In addition without pain how would we recognise the true joys and growth in life. Through recognition comes inner power and with inner power you can transform anything you want to from within yourself.

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‘ Just as the pure white lotus flower blooms unsoiled in the muddy water, our lives which are supremely noble, can continue to shine even amid the harshest realities. ‘ ~Daisaku Ikeda