The talk was held last night at Chui Huay Lim Club to a fully packed audience. Ajahn Brahm in his jovial way tackled the familiar and perplexing problems of life. He peppered his talk with many similes and jokes to drive home serious messages of coping methods. Who does not have problems in life? I felt inspired to share some snippets I heard.
1. Irritations or Problems
If one can discern a problem as just irritation, then there is no need to get upset or worry about it. And there are many such irritations in life and let them go.
2. Get a perspective to problems
Focusing on a problem intently stops us from seeing the big picture in life. The problem is not about life and death. The real problem is how to live and how to die. Problems allow us an opportunity to grow and to get better. It helps us to be kind and wise. The recent crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 brought the divergent race, countries and religions together. The event teaches us about harmony and compassion.
The problem is like a flower not yet blooms and still in a bud. It requires great pressure before the petals can burst out into a beautiful flower. There is hope after a struggle.
Remember also that no matter how problematic it can be, this too will pass. Spring will always follow a bitter winter.
3. Deliberate Dependency
When we are sick, allow our closed ones to take care of us. This provides opportunities for them to practise compassion. Ajahn Brahm called it deliberate dependency. What a wonderful way of looking at sickness. We get cared for and our closed ones get opportunities to practise compassion.
4. Finding meanings in failure
There is no perfection in life. There will be failures. It is like going into a forest to find a perfect tree. There is no such thing as a perfect tree. Branches of trees are broken due to storms. Trees are crooked and bent in different ways. How can we define a perfect tree?
With failure, we ask ourselves how we can make it better. It allows us to learn from failures.
5. Understand the problem first
There was an incident with two women in a kitchen. They wanted to have the only ONE orange left in the refrigerator. They argued as who should have it. Each provided a reason and no one agreed to give up that orange. In the end, they divided the orange into two halves. The first woman peeled her half of the orange, ate the orange flesh and threw the orange peel into the rubbish bin. The second woman also peeled her half of the orange. She then threw the orange flesh into the bin and kept the orange peel for baking her cake.
If only the two women sought to understand the problem first, they would have more than half they wanted. This is true in life, isn’t it?