The Answer to Every Troublesome Situation in Life

Dedicated to my wife, D’Arcy

Whether by inspiration, inference, or accident, I think I may have stumbled upon the answer to every troublesome situation in life.

The answer to every troublesome situation in life is: Cultivate the divine qualities.

What are they? Peace, love, harmony, balance, unity, joy, etc.

What a funny thing to say. To think that we can come up with the answer to every troublesome situation in life. But all this evening I tested this statement out and I’ve yet to come across a troublesome situation to which this statement does not seem the answer.

It’s become a parlor game to search for one.

    • Having trouble with your relationships? Cultivate the divine qualities.
    • Tired of waiting for something to happen? Cultivate the divine qualities.
    • Want your life to work out? Cultivate the divine qualities.
    • Missing something in life? Cultivate the divine qualities.
    • Feeling like life is a dead-end affair? Cultivate the divine qualities.
    • Wondering how to bring peace to the world? Cultivate the divine qualities.

Nevertheless, saying “cultivate the divine qualities” does not equate to cultivating the divine qualities. I still I have to cultivate them. I can say “Take this medicine three times a day” as many times as I want but, unless I actually take the medicine three times a day, I will not have worked towards the cure.

But do help me out here. If you can find a troublesome situation in which cultivating divine qualities is not the best answer, I’d like to hear about it. Until someone does, cultivating them looks to me like one of the most basic and productive things that I can possibly conceive of doing in life.

And thanks to my wife for showing me what a good synonym “living dharmically” is for “acting like an adult.” Those who are familiar with the dharma will probably recall that even a weekend spent at a workshop dedicated to it (Zen, Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhism, it matters not) has us emerge feeling cleaner, more noble, more satisfied.

What the dharma teaches – principally sila or morality – “trues us up” to life, has us do what is noble and kind, has us walk a trackless path. The noble precepts that define what is right action are engaged in as promises and have the effect of stopping us from unwholesome action right away. Immediately our lives can be felt to improve.

If I felt that the word “adult” did not convey the essence of the spiritual life, I would next choose the word “dharma.”

And what does the dharma teach? To cultivate the divine qualities. Well, fancy that! All roads seem to lead back to behaving in ways we can imagine the Divine being and, if the formless and motionless could be conceived of as behaving, then behaving.

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