Cares and troubles

Six centuries before the Christian era, a wise man taught how to overcome cares and troubles. He said that overcoming cares and troubles was possible for he who knows and who sees however not for he who does not know nor does not see. But, he wondered, what is it a person must know and see in order for him to let go of his problems and concerns? And there one of his masterly reflections was beginning. He stated one could let go of one’s cares and troubles by insight, by restraint, moderation and self-control, by the proper use of material goods, by strengthening endurance and integrity, by avoiding erroneous paths, by dismissing unwholesome thoughts and by culture.

Both wise and not so wise reflections may arise from insight. For a person who reflects unwisely, cares and troubles that had not yet arisen, rise and, in addition, the ones that have already arisen, increase. Nevertheless, for those who reflect wisely, cares and troubles that had not yet arisen do not rise and, in addition, those already arisen disappear.

People who get tangled up in and enchained to opinions and points of view are unable to break free from sorrow, regrets, pains, grief, despairs: they cannot liberate themselves from suffering. Instead, a wise reflection allows us to identify the suffering that affects us, its causes, what it means to stop suffering and what the path ahead of us is in order to stop suffering. By reflecting wisely, the false notion of oneself, the skepticism and the clinging to rituals and practices, fall away from us. These are the cares and troubles (defilements, fetters) that should be got rid of by insight.

Those who practice restraint, moderation and self-control are careful with what they see, what they hear, with their own bodies and minds. On the contrary, those who do not act with moderation are met with difficulties, anguish and irritation.

Those who act wisely make proper use of material goods. They use clothes only to protect themselves from cold, heat, insects, wind and sun, as well as covering themselves with decency. They do not use food for pleasure or in excess, but only to sustain their bodies and avoid fatigue. They use shelter to protect themselves from inclemency and to enjoy retreat and isolation. The use of medication and medicine is just to break free from pain, sickness and preserving their health.

Those who through endurance strengthen their resilience and integrity are in a better position to face physical setbacks as well as hurtful and abusive language; they get immunized against painful, sharp, rough, severe, unpleasant, ungrateful, terrible sensations.

The wise man said that the same way one avoids wild animals, snakes, a tree trunk, thorn bushes, cliffs, dirty puddles, a wise person will avoid unseemly places and nurturing such bad friendships that would lead even his most discrete companions to conclude he has lost his way.

Also, a wise person lets cares and troubles go by dismissing unwholesome thoughts, not tolerating, rejecting, discarding, eliminating whatever thinking that leads to antagonism, hostility or violence.

The wise man asks how can one let go of cares and troubles through culture? And he answers by nurturing attention and detachment, by avoiding passion controlled actions, learning to desist, maturing into renunciation, understanding suffering, energy, joy, calmness, concentration, equanimity.

This wise man, named Siddharta (better known as Buddha), that 27 centuries ago taught how to face cares and troubles, concluded his reflection pointing out that those who had come to develop insight and understanding, practice restraint, moderation and self-control, use material goods properly, strengthen their resilience and integrity, learn how to avoid erroneous paths, dismiss unwholesome thoughts and elevate themselves culturally, would have cut off craving, struck off their fetters, and by fathoming false pride, would have put an end to suffering.

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