There’s a story about a farmer who came to see the Buddha to tell him about his numerous life difficulties. He told the Buddha about his troubles with his farming – either drought or monsoons made his work always difficult. He told the Buddha about his wife, for even though he loved her, there were certain things about her which could use some fixing. Likewise with his children – yes, he loved them, but they certainly weren’t turning out quite the way he wanted.
So he told the Buddha all of this, and when he was done, he asked the Buddha how the Buddha could help him with
And the Buddha said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”
“What do you mean? You’re supposed to be a great teacher!“” railed the farmer.
To which the Buddha replied, “It’s like this: all human beings have 83 problems; it’s a fact of life.
Sure, a few more problems may go away now and then, but soon enough a few more will come. So we’ll always have 83 problems.”
To which the farmer indignantly responded, “Then what’s the good of all your teaching?”
To which the Buddha replied, “My teaching can’t help with the 83 problems, but perhaps it can help with the 84th problem.”
“What is the 84th problem?” asked the farmer.
“The 84th problem is that we don’t want to have any problems.”
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 20 years.