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How to Solve Human Problems

April 29, 2013

When things go wrong in our life and we encounter difficult situations, we tend to regard the situation itself as our problem, but in reality whatever problems we experience come from the side of the mind.
If we responded to difficult situations with positive or peaceful mind they would not be problems for us. Eventually we might even regard them as challenges or opportunities for growth and development.

Problems arise only if we respond to difficulties with a negative state of mind. Therefore, if we want to be free from problems, we must transform our mind.
Since we spend so much time together, and since we know the other person’s shortcomings so well, it is very easy for us to become critical and short-tempered with our partner and to blame him or her for making our life uncomfortable. Unless we make a continuous effort to deal with this anger as it arises, our relationship will suffer.
A couple may genuinely love one another, but if they frequently get angry with each other the times when they are happy together will become fewer and further between.
Eventually there will come a point when before they have recovered from one row the next has already begun. Like a flower choked by weeds, love cannot survive in such circumstances.
In a close relationship, opportunities to get angry arise many times a day, so to prevent the build-up of bad feelings we need to deal with anger as soon as it begins to arise in our mind.
We clear away the dishes after every meal rather than waiting until the end of the month, because we do not want to live in a dirty house nor be faced with a huge, unpleasant job. In the same way, we need to make the effort to clear away the mess in our mind as soon as it appears, for if we allow it to accumulate it will become more and more difficult to deal with, and will endanger our relationship.
We should remember that every opportunity to develop anger is also an opportunity to develop patience. A relationship in which there is a lot of friction and conflict of interests is also an unrivalled opportunity to erode away our self-cherishing and self-grasping, which are the real sources of all our problems. By practicing the instructions on patience explained here, we can transform our relationships into opportunities for spiritual growth.
It is through our anger and hatred that we transform people into enemies. We generally assume that anger arises when we encounter a disagreeable person, but actually it is the anger already within us that transforms the person we meet into our imagined foe. Someone controlled by their anger lives within a paranoid view of the world, surrounded by enemies of his or her own creation.
The false belief that everyone hates him can become so overwhelming that he might even go insane, the victim of his own delusion.
In reality, most of our emotional problems are nothing more than a failure to accept things as they are—in which case it is patient acceptance, rather than attempting to change externals that is the solution. For example, many of our relationship problems arise because we do not accept our partner as he or she is. In these cases the solution is not to change our partner into what we would like him to be, but to accept him fully as he is. There are many levels of acceptance. Perhaps we already try to tolerate our partner’s idiosyncrasies, refrain from criticizing him or her, and go along with his wishes most of the time, but in the depths of our heart have we given up judging him? Are we completely free from resentment and blaming? Isn’t there still a subtle thought that he should be different from the way he is? True patience involves letting go of all these thoughts.
Once we fully accept other people as they are without the slightest judgment or reservation—the way all enlightened beings accept us—then there will be no basis for problems in our relations with others. Problems do not exist outside our mind, so when we stop seeing other people as problems they stop being problems. The person who is a problem to a non-accepting mind does not exist in the calm, clear space of patient acceptance.

Patient acceptance not only helps us, it also helps those we are patient with. Being accepted feels very different from being judged. When someone feels judged, they automatically become tight and defensive, but when they feel accepted they can relax, and this allows their good qualities to come to the surface. Patience always solves our inner problems, and it often solves problems between people as well.

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