Lessons From India 3: Dealing With Hardships


Creative Commons License photo credit: Kannan Kartha

“There is no vice like anger and no virtue like patience.” – Shantideva

As you all know I am currently in India on my yearly battery re-charging holiday. One of the best and most important things you learn in India is how to deal with hardships. In this post I want to give you some tips so that you might be able to better deal with your own personal hardships when you next encounter them.

Dealing with hardships – the Buddhist approach

I want to give you some of the Buddhist methods for dealing with hardships. This makes sense because I am here studying buddhism and meeting with my buddhist teachings. These methods are therefore the freshest in my mind.

Using patience
The first method of dealing with hardships is to develop patience. The old master Shantideva used to talk about how hardships have no solid reality. They aren’t intentionally trying to hurt you so why do you get angry with them?

Shantideva also used to use the example of mucas. He would ask his students why they don’t get angry at mucas and other illnesses but you get angry at other circumstances that are causing you hardships. He said this was illogical because both are due to causes. That is, nothing that causes you hardships has a solid reality – nothing is inherently trying to make you suffer.

So… be patient.

Meditating on karma
Another method that buddhists use to deal with hardships is meditation on karma.

Buddhists assert that everything that happens to us is because of things we have done in past lives. For example, if we are sick it might be due to something we did in previous lives that left that imprint on our mindsteams.

When hardships occur it is then considered to be a positive thing. The reason for that is that the negative karma is being purified. If bad things happen because of bad things we have done then when we experience hardships we are exhausting the cause for bad things to happen for us. Therefore it is a positive event.

While this may be too farfetched for some western mind’s to accept it is a useful thing to contemplate the next time we are undergoing some hardships. It helps us to be less selfish and self centered and stops us from becoming someone who blames everyone else around them when things go wrong.

Meditating on compassion
Compassion is the king of all meditations. The whole point of buddhism is to get people to become more compassionate.

When you are undergoing hardships it is a great time to develop compassion. You can think that there are other people undergoing similar things to me and arouse compassion in your mind thinking how horrible it is that other people have to feel this crap.

When buddhists get sick we have a short aspiration that we recite that helps us make our compassion more limitless and less ego driven. It goes:

“May all the sufferings of all sentient beings ripen on me right now. May I take on their pain so that they don’t have to.”

This is a powerful thing to do because for the first time in a long time we are putting other people ahead of our own needs.

These are only a few methods but they are some of the most important that you can encounter if you want new ways to deal with hardships.

3 thoughts on “Lessons From India 3: Dealing With Hardships

  1. Very inspiring and insightful piece Daily Minder,

    I agree that patience is something of a lost art in our “rat race” society where we all need to make money to live and have fun, but sadly we at times forget to exercise patience. Through entertainment and media, we are all chasing the “next best thing”, whether its a new car or a new fashion statement. We must get it. Tomorrow or next month and the “new in thing” is not going to go away but its irrelevant because we “need” to have it now.

    Your ideas and thoughts about Karma Meditation is beautiful. The way you describe it does not force the reader to “believe” in it but at the same time a lot of admiration and respect is given. Hence the saying, “what goes around comes around”. That is why we really should and need to live life in a more healthy and positive way so that instead of hurting another….we are enriching their lives that much more.

    Your third point hits home for me a lot because I believe I am a highly compassionate person. It makes me feel amazing and warm inside when I know that I have helped out another asking for nothing in return but to see them smile and feel great about themselves.

    After a stressful week at work or just everyday “stress buildup”, I come to your site and feel at peace with myself and re-energized mentally/emotionally again.

    Great job DM

  2. Saw that you were trying to link to one of my snaps on flickr, but seems like it is not showing up. Let me know if you need help.

    Nice post by the way …

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