Saturday, October 1 , 2022

How to face desirable and undesirable conditions


It is a fact that all living beings in this world including human beings are ever struggling to seek ways and means of enjoying life free from all kinds of sorrows, pains and unpleasant physical and mental feelings. There is nobody in this world who enjoys the luxuries at all times during his or her lifetime. On the other hand, there is nobody who suffers mentally and physically during his whole lifetime. All are bound to face joys and sorrows from time to time during his or her own lifetime.

We live in an ill-balanced world. It is not rosy, nor is it totally thorny. The rose is soft, beautiful and fragrant; but the stem on which the rose flower grows is full of thorns. Because of the rose, one tolerates the thorns. However, one will not disparage the rose on account of the thorns.


To an optimist, this world is absolutely rosy; to a pessimist, it is absolutely thorny. But to a realist, this world is neither absolutely rosy nor absolutely thorny. It abounds with both beautiful roses and prickly thorns.


An understanding person will not be infatuated by the beauty of the rose, but will view it as it is. Knowing well the nature of thorns, he will view them as they are and will take the precaution not to be hurt.

Like the pendulum that perpetually moves from right to left, four desirable and four undesirable conditions prevail in the world. Everyone without exception must face these conditions in the course of a lifetime. These conditions are as follows:

  • Gain and loss
  • Honour and dishonour
  • Praise and blame
  • Happiness and sorrow

Businessmen, as a rule, are subject to both gain and loss. It is quite natural to be complacent when there is gain or profit. In itself there is nothing wrong. Such profits produce a certain amount of pleasure which the average man seek. Without these pleasurable moments, however temporary, life would not be worth living. In this competitive and chaotic world, it is right that people should enjoy some kind of happiness which gladdens their hearts. Such happiness, though material, is conducive to health and longevity.


The problem arises in the case of loss. Profits are accepted with smiles, but not so with the losses. The losses often lead to mental agony and sometimes suicidal tendencies arise when losses are unbearable. It is under such adverse circumstances that one should exhibit high, moral courage and maintain a proper mental equilibrium.

All of us have ups and downs while battling with life. One should be prepared for the good and the bad. Then there will be less disappointment.

In the time of the Buddha, a noble lady known as Bandula Mallika, was offering food to the Venerable Sariputta and some monks. While serving them, she received a note stating that certain misfortunes had affected her family. Without becoming upset, she calmly kept the note in her waist-pouch and served the monks as if nothing had happened. A maid who was carrying a pot of ghee to offer to the monks inadvertently slipped and broke the pot of ghee. Thinking that the lady would naturally feel sorry at the loss, Venerable Sariputta consoled her, saying that all breakable things are bound to break.

The wise lady remarked. “Bhante,” what is this trivial loss? I have just got a note stating certain misfortunes have occurred in my family. My husband and my own sons have been killed

by some conspirators. I accepted without losing my balance. I am serving you all despite the bad news.”

Such valour on the part of such a courageous lady should be highly commended.

Once, the Buddha went seeking alms in a village. Owing to the intervention of Mara, the Evil One, the Buddha did not obtain any food. When Mara questioned the Buddha rather sarcastically whether he was hungry or not, the Buddha solemnly explained the mental attitude of those who were free from impediments, and replied thus, “Ah, happily do we live, we who have no impediments.

Feeders of joy shall we be even as the gods of the Radiant Realm.”

On another occasion, the Buddha and his disciples observed the rainy period (vassa) in a village at the invitation of a Brahmin who, however, completely forgot his duty to attend to the needs of the Buddha and the Sangha. Throughout a period of three months, although Venerable Moggallana volunteered to obtain food by his psychic powers, the Buddha making no complaint, was contented with the fodder of horses offered by a horse dealer. Losses one must try to bear cheerfully with manly vigour. Unexpectedly one confronts them, very often in groups and not singly. One must face them with equanimity (Upekkha) and take it as an opportunity to cultivate that sublime virtue. The world is full of thorns and pebbles. It is impossible to remove them. But, if we have to walk in spite of such obstacles, instead of trying to remove them, which is impossible, it is advisable to wear a pair of slippers and walk harmlessly.

May all of us have courage and determination to see the Fully Awakened One by understanding and practising His noble teachings that lead us to attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana someday.

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