The Wisdom Within
By Suzette Scholtes
The 84th Problem
I enjoy studying Eastern philosophy as it helps me accept personal responsibility. Some of the old Zen stories are so old I find many variations. Victor, a yogi from Tulsa, wrote his book on bridging Eastern and Western mind. How kind of him to mail me a copy. I could not put it down. I laughed out loud teaching yoga class as I was sharing this story. The “lesson” I get is when we learn to accept the realities of our life, the path to love and enlightenment becomes easier. Here is this wonderful story:
One afternoon a farmer took a trip to find the Buddha as he heard the great teacher might help him find relief from his suffering. “I’m a farmer,” he said to the Buddha, “And I love farming. But last summer we had a drought and nearly starved, while this summer, we had too much rain and some of my crops did not survive.”
The Buddha sat and listened to the farmer. “My wife is a great woman and a good wife. But sometimes she can really nag me. And to tell you the truth, sometimes I get a little tired of her.” The Buddha continued to listen and smile, as the farmer continued. “I’ve got three kids. They’re really great. But sometimes they don’t listen to me and don’t pay me the respect I deserve.”
It went on like this for long while. He complained about his aches and pains and went on to whine about his neighbors, his selfish brother-in-law, and the taxes. He probably complained about 80-something problems. Then the farmer waited for the Buddha to solve his problems.
“Sorry I can’t help you,” said the Buddha. (This is where I laugh out loud!)
“What!” yelled the farmer, “I’ve heard that you are a great master. How can you not help me?”
“Well,” the Buddha replied, “First of all, everyone has problems. In fact, everyone’s got about 83 problems, like you. Of course, you may fix one now and then, but another one will pop up in its place. If you think about it, everyone you know and all that you care for is subject to change — it’s all impermanent. And you yourself are going to die someday. Now there’s a problem.”
The farmer was red in the face. “What kind of teacher are you!? How is this supposed to help me?!” he retorted.
“Well….perhaps I can help you with the 84th problem,” answered the Buddha.
“What 84th problem?” asked the farmer.
“You don’t want to have any problems.”
The moral of this story is our work to find new perspectives and perhaps convert our problems into opportunities. For example, someone in debt may follow Dave Ramsey’s step-by-step program to become free of debt.
I find “the 84th problem” works well in relationships. Lucky me, I have zen-like friends who share valuable insights. At lunch I complained to my wise friend how someone said unkind words to me in front of a group and I felt embarrassed and angry.
She looks at me and says, “So what?”
I look at her, wondering what happened to the empathy and then burst into laugher at her wisdom. “Yes, I said, “So what! Her behavior has nothing to do with me, my self-value and self-love.”
I just love a good story! And for the likes of me I do not yet know why I find this one so amusing. Hope you do as well, reader friend.
Suzette Scholtes is Director of Teacher’s Training and Founder of The Yoga School of Therapeutics, 10400 W. 103rd Street, Overland Park. Her writings have appeared in national magazines and published by New Leaf Publishers, Atlanta. The yoga school calendar of public classes and workshops may be found at www.theyogastudio.com or Email email@example.com or call (9l3) 492-9594.