Earlier this year, on his “No Worries, No Problems, No Dramas” tour, Lama Marut, the big American with the sideburns and a silver chain dangling beneath his rust-red robe (he looks like he lifts trucks in his spare time) spruiked Buddhist teachings as only he can. “You’re Aussies, right? You’re supposed to have `no worries’, right?”. Arriving at the “State of No Problem-dom” is a case of tweaking perspective, says Marut.
I was defrosting my 25-year old freezer, again, when an ice shelf calved off the back, shattering, and dousing all the food I’d been too lazy to remove from the fridge below seeing I endure this trauma fortnightly. As I grumped about, the words of a wise, but not too old, Buddhist monk came to me (paraphrased): “Tell it to someone whose life really sucks!”.
So I pictured myself telling someone who lost it all in the Queensland floods about my freezer problem. This was not an easy sell.
Lama Marut has visited this page before and is welcome any time. Earlier this year, on his “No Worries Tour”, the big American with the sideburns and a silver chain dangling beneath his rust-red robe (he looks like he lifts trucks in his spare time) spruiked Buddhist teachings as only he can. A motorcycle enthusiast and former surfer dude, the son and grandson of Baptists ministers and a PhD of Comparative Religions, he is direct, disarming and clearly right a lot of the time.
Here’s what he had to say about Aussies failing Aussie Philosophy.
The State of No Problem-dom
“You’re Aussies, right? You’re supposed to have `no worries’, right?”. We smile at our regular incompetence in this area, hungry for tips on getting Life right.
“A problem,” he says, “is just an interpretation. It’s not inherently a problem”. Arriving at the “State of No Problem-dom” is a case of tweaking perspective, says Marut.
“We think we’re so sophisticated that we need bigger answers to life than ‘be kind to others’ and ‘learn from the challenges’,” he says amazed, on our behalf, at our own cheek. “You want to Jujitsu your problems? . . . Interpret them as an opportunity to learn.”
When you’re faced with a difficult person, that’s your interpretation of who they are. The real difficulty lies not in the person who irritates you, but your own anger that bubbles up, having made its imprint at some former time and event. They merely trigger it. That ‘difficult’ person is your greatest teacher, kindly revealing your unresolved anger that needs tending. You ought to thank them.
I like co-speaker Cindy Lee’s take-away tip, a real call-to-arms: “Imagine everyone else in the world is enlightened, except you. That way, you learn a lesson from everyone .”
Marut suggests, but not in a hopelessly morbid way, but if you want to get to the flinty end of what life is all about, spend a few minutes on occasion imagining your last minute on Earth. You’re dying. What goes through your mind? What unfinished business sucks the life out of you? It certainly brings into focus what you value most. Then, relax, count your blessings, all six trillion of them: “Thank you for my eyes that see; my legs that walk; my full fridge”, and get to work on the things that matter.
“Buddhism has loads of gods, we’re neck and neck with Hinduism. Do gods fix problems?” probes Marut. “If they coulda, they woulda, but they can’ta! Only you can. So buck up!”
Train your mind, say “I want to be a happy person” and start acting it. Take responsibility for yourself and your mental and emotional direction. Waiting for someone else to make your life ‘complete’ is never going to be the answer.
Getting Life Right
So, when someone says, “How are you?”, don’t let your answer be “Oh not so good, there’s this thing going on at work…”. That’s just “scab picking” growls Marut when 97% of everything else is fine. Practise being happy, not by stimulating yourself into a pleasure-frenzy (that new restaurant, bar, movie, pair of shoes), because the memory of consumable`bliss’ fades instantly (after the bill, the booze buzz, the popcorn is eaten, the shoes are scuffed). Go for real, everlasting peace and happiness by making someone’s life spectacular just by a word, a look, a deed. Normally we wait for others to drop the kindness bomb before we reciprocate, Marut says. Surprise someone, daily.
Drop it. Go on. Drop!
You need to dump that identity you’ve been clinging to as big office kahuna or best-in-show. Attachments to professional kudos, material gain, physical attributes, even spiritual superiority are useless because it’s all temporary: “Life is suffering, everything changes . . . Learn to be happy by surfing change,” recommends Marut. You can’t make the pain of suffering go away, but you can end suffering by adopting clear perspective. Make that whining voice in your head a happy one, count your blessings, serve others, and life becomes beautiful, meaningful.