Sometimes when we are faced with a serious problem, we feel depressed with its seeming magnitude and weight. When this happens, it is profitable to wander out in the evening and look up at the sky. We see countless numbers of stars. From outer space, the sun in our solar system will only appear as one of the innumerable number of stars. If the sun were to disappear suddenly from space, would its absence be noticed from outer space?
Our world is only a tiny speck in the universe. What if we were to disappear from the world, would it be of any universal significance? Our loved ones and friends of course will miss us for a time, but besides them, maybe no one else would. But compared to ourselves, how much smaller are our troubles? When we consider the vastness of the universe with the tiny speck which the Sun is and the tinier speck which we call the world, and our troubles will appear very minute indeed in comparison.
If we can see our problems in this perspective, we would understand the first step of the Noble Eight-fold Path, that is, Right Viewpoint. This can also mean a right sense of values, that is, by not thinking that we are more important than we really are. And if we can develop this viewpoint, we will know what things in life matter and what don not, and that our troubles which come and go are of no real significance. Ponder for a moment the significance of the under mentioned valuable saying in Islam.
‘Faith is the source of my power.
Sorrow is my friend.
Knowledge is my weapon.
Patience is my Grab and Virtue’
~ Prophet Mohammad ~
Troubles will soon pass. What had caused you to burst into tears today will soon be forgotten tomorrow. You may perhaps remember that you cried, but maybe not the exact circumstances which caused the tears. As we go through life, we waste so much mental energy when we lie awake at night, brooding over something that had upset us during the day. We nurse resentment against someone and keep running the same thoughts over and over again through our mind. But is it not so that while we may fall into a rage about something now, that after some time has elapsed and other problems arise which would seem to be more pressing, we may begin to wonder what it was that in the first place we were so angry about? If we reflect on past resentments, we will be surprised to find how we have deliberately continued to be unhappy when we could have in fact put that unhappiness to a stop by doing or thinking about something else.
Whatever our troubles, however pressing they may appear, time will heal our wounds. But besides leaving things to time, surely there must be something we can do to prevent ourselves from being hurt in the first place, We could maintain our peace of mind by not allowing people or troubles to drain our energies away since it is ourselves and not others who create our unhappiness.
We gain academic knowledge without personal experience. Armed with academic knowledge some young people think they can solve all the world’s problems. Science can provide the material things to solve our problems, but it cannot help us to solve our spiritual problems. There is no substitute for wise people who have experienced the world. Think about this saying, “When I was 18, I thought what a fool my father was. Now that I am 28, I am surprised how much the old man has learned in 10 years!” It is not the father that has learned, rather it is you who have learned to see things in a mature way.
– How to live without fear and worry, Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda