(The principal of a large school in Bombay gave us a list of frequently asked questions by 13 year old children in her school and asked us whether we can prepare answers in the light of a spiritual perspective. When we looked at the question we found that they are not mere “kid-stuff.” Most of them are either fundamental and existential questions related to world and God or psychological problems faced by most of us. This series is an attempt to answer these questions from the children’s perspective in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We don’t know how far we have succeeded in communicating to the children. Nevertheless, we hope these answer may be of some help to teachers and parents who have to deal with children. There are around thirty questions with answers given in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We will post these questions at regular intervals.)
Why do we live only for Problems?
Do you mean to say or ask why life is always a series of problems and nothing but problems with nothing positive in it? But is that really so? Have you not experienced positive moments of peace, joy, relaxation,love, harmony? I am sure you have. However for many of us, problems,difficulties and obstacles are much more frequent than positive states of peace and happiness. Secondly, problems when they are not tackled in the right way begin to multiply, one problem leading to another which again gives birth to one more and so on. This perhaps gives the impression that life is nothing but problems. Is it possible to be without problems and make life into uninterrupted peace and joy? This maybe possible in some heavens or in a future world, which we may aspire for and strive to create some day. But in our present condition of humanity and the world, it is not possible to be entirely without problems. But why? Because, we are still imperfect and we don’t have sufficient knowledge or capacity to prevent problems and have only peace and joy. And secondly, in our present conditions, problems have a role in our growth and development. Every problem solved, leads to greater learning or development of some faculties of our thought, feeling or action.
This brings us to the practical question, how to minimize problems and maximize states of peace and light and happiness: to answer this question we have to understand how problems raise and begins to multiply.
Our problems have a general or universal as well as specific causes. The present condition of our consciousness is the universal source of our problems. And also, each problem may have specific causes. Among the general causes, the first one is that most of us have no control over our mind and life. And our outer life is the expressions of our mind. If our mind is full of problems,life is also will be a similar mess of problems. Most of our life is a chaotic muddle of unending problems because in our mind we are helplessly tossed by whatever thoughts, feelings, impulses or reaction we have, without any order or control.
We are like someone who is riding a chariot driven by a bunch of mad, blind and drunken monkeys. Our mind is mostly like those monkeys. As long as we are driven by our monkey-mind, we cannot hope to be without problems; on the contrary it will be nothing but problems. This we must understand, not conceptually, but concretely by observing our own mind carefully and attentively. We must feel concretely the nature of our monkey-mind and how it is the source of most of our problems. When we realize this fact by observing ourself, we will also feel the need for control, balance and harmony. When we feel the need for it and try to bring order and harmony to our mind, then we will see that there will be greater order and harmony and less problems in our life.
The second cause is lack of consciousness. This is the source of the first cause, lack of control. For, you cannot control something you are not conscious of. Most of us are not conscious of ourselves and there is not much difference between our wakefulness and sleep. While we are awake, we are only a little more conscious than when we sleep. For example, when someone asks us all of a sudden, “What you are thinking” how many of us can answer precisely what we are thinking? Similarly, as we have discussed briefly, how many of us are fully conscious of the condition of our mind that it is like a drunken monkey. When we make a mistake, how many of us can say, what is the cause of our mistakes. For example, we all know we should not lie. We have heard it from our parents and teachers and books. But still sometimes we lie; it pops up from our mouth all of a sudden. How many of us can say what is exactly in us that make us lie, inspite of our good intentions not to lie? This also we have to understand by experience, by observing ourselves and feel the need for becoming more and more conscious of our mind and life. We will have less problems in our life if we become more and more conscious and gain greater control over our mind and life. These are the general or universal causes of our problems.
However each problem may have some specific cause. You might have heard the well-known saying in medicine, “Prevention is better than cure.” It means, instead of trying to cure the disease or ill health after it has come, understand the root causes of the disease and organize our life and the outer environment in such away that the very causes of the disease or ill health are eliminated. It is more or less the same path for dealing with specific problems. When we are confronted with a problem, we must try to understand the root causes of the problem and think-out how to prevent the problem from raising again. This doesn’t mean we should not make any immediate or temporary measures to fix the problem if that is needed for the present or if it is something urgent. But our main approach is to discover the deeper causes of the problem and try to eliminate them at its roots.
For example some children are unable to get up in time to go to school. They have to be softly or rudely awakened form sleep by their Mothers, which causes further problems like for example, scolding from their Mothers, which again causes irritation, anger, resentment. And you rush up to get dressed, take breakfast and run to school and you get scolded again by your teacher for getting late. And the impressions of this unpleasant experience at the beginning of the day may continue when you are in school and spoil your relations with your classmates or teachers. You can see here how one problem leads to another problem. How to deal with this problem?You must ask why you are not able to get up in time. What is the cause? Is it tiredness? Are you too tired at the end of the day and you need long rest in sleep? But why you get tired at this age when you must be full of energy? Why there is lack of energy? Or is it due to laziness? Why you are lazy? Is it due to lack of will power? Or is it due to lack of interest in going to school or dislike studies or the environment in the school? Again why there is a lack of interest? If you want to find a permanent solution you must find the right remedies for these causes like lack of energy, will power or interest. There are remedies. The energy level can be increased by right nutrition and excercises. Will power can be strengthened by a firm and conscious resolve, determination and persistence and lack of interest by discovering your true interests.