Solutions for desperate times

It seems lately that so many people are feeling desperate and sad. Our current economy, high unemployment rate, fires and floods across the U.S. that have destroyed lives and homes.

Is this all just a sign of the times, a religious omen, or some cycle of the planets that is effecting so many people? Do many of us yearn for the “good old days”, when life seemed simpler?

In my humble opinion, it is none of the above. Even in the so-called “good old days”, these very same difficulties affected millions of people. Clinging to the past, or grasping for the future will do nothing to ease your troubles.
Like Buddha’s first Noble truth, we need to accept that “there is suffering”.

So first of all, I think it benefits all of us to simply be present. Thinking of how anything was in the past will only distract you from the present reality. And this present moment, this situation, is truly all that we have. We really do not have to add a story to this, simply accept that life is what it is.
With mindfulness, one can see that it is almost always attachment (Upādāna) that causes us to suffer. But to be free of all attachment takes a lot of skill and wisdom. Admittedly more than I always have.
But I think that, especially important during hardship, that we do keep a strong determination towards mindfulness and acceptance. And as always, I see meditation as a key element in this process.
Thirty minutes out of twenty-four hour day is really not much to ask of yourself. This is the most valuable time of your day. It’s time for quiet and peace. Allowing your mind to settle, and love the self. Time for the cultivation of compassion, equanimity, and even joy.
In this time, you allow yourself to see that these qualities are truly part of your nature and exist within you always. Regardless of circumstances or difficulties, there is a love and acceptance that fills you with peace. This is our foundation.

With skillful practice, I think each of us can develop and find a way to be of benefit to others. Actually forgetting the self, and experiencing mudita (sympathetic joy). And isn’t that a wonderful way to pursue the cessation of suffering?

My love and blessings to each of you. And may you each be well, happy and peaceful.