Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Mindful Monday: All Human Beings Have 83 Problems

On Mindful Monday, my readers and I practice the art of pausing, TRYING to be still, or considering, ever so briefly, the big picture. We’re hoping this soul time will provide enough peace of mind to get us through the week!

I sometimes think that the kids who had it hard growing up have a substantial advantage over the brats who were fed from a silver spoon when it comes to handling problems that they will encounter in their lives.

Take my friend, Vickie.

When she was two, she was running with a glass ornament in her hand. She fell, the ornament shattered, and the glass cut out her right eye.

She was never the same.

Wearing an eye-patch through her grade school, adolescence, and high school years, she was mocked by classmates, called a monster, and treated terribly. She felt ugly and unlovable, so she turned to food to comfort her and gained weight.


One day a man approached her and told her he could fix the eye … give her a glass eye that perfectly matched the other one. She couldn’t believe her luck! From that hour on, she has told me numerous times, she never really had a bad day. Because she always compares her current trials and tribulations to the days of the eye-patch, and she’ll take the news problems hands down.

“Think of it this way,” she told me the other day. “If you begin your day with the simple motto, ‘Life is crap,’ then it can only get better from there!”

This is, in fact, the First Noble Truth of Buddhism: “Life is suffering.” To be human is to experience pain.

In his book, “Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds,” Victor Parachin tells of a great tale about an old farmer and the Buddha. He writes:


An old farmer went to the Buddha seeking help for his problems. First, he had professional problems. In his part of the world, farming was extremely difficult and his work completely vulnerable to weather. Even though he loved his wife, there were certain things about her he wanted to change. Similarly, he loved his children, but they weren’t evolving the way he had hoped and anticipated. Listening carefully as the man explained his frustrations with life, the Buddha responded, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

“What do you mean?” questioned the farmer. “You’re a highly regarded great teacher who has insight into all of life’s problems.”


“All human beings have eighty-three problems,” the Buddha explained. “A few problems may go away, but soon enough others will arise. So we’ll always have eighty-three problems.”

The farmer, both indignant and frustrated, asked, “So what good is all of your teaching?”

To which the Buddha replied, “My teaching can’t help with the eighty-three problems, but perhaps it can help with the eighty-fourth problem.”

“What’s that?” the farmer asked with great curiosity.


“The eighty-fourth problem is that we don’t want to have any problems.”

Parachin goes on to explain that even the most spiritual among us have problems. He writes:

Oddly, the illusion that life should be free of suffering is often heightened in those who pursue spiritual practices, because they erroneously believe that all problems will disappear if one is “spiritual” enough. Thinking the right way, speaking the right way, acting the right way–none of these can provide immunity to problems, although these practices can prevent many issues and minimize the fallout. What spiritual practice can do is help us deal with those matters in a calmer, more balanced way. The Buddha is right: Because we live in an imperfect, messy world, we will always have “eighty-three” problems. Expecting not to have problems is one of our great illusions about life. If he were here today, the Buddha might very well say: “Get real. Wake up. Abandon the illusions about how life should be and face life as it really is.”


So, even though it sounds negative to start off your day with “life is crap,” it can actually help you deal with reality in all of its rudeness and inconvenience. It means starting the day with an understanding of the First Noble Truth. And, just like Vickie said, it can only get better from there!

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  • Your Name

    Quite often the Universe puts in my path someone who is seriously disabled or obviously suffering and yet they have a peace that is discernable. I wonder if their challenges move them more quickly to a higher spiritual plane for they often seem above the typical fray of this world that causes so many so much such pain. I think we get what we need for our spiritual development. I no longer look upon others with serious challenges with pity for I believe they are right where they need to be for their soul’s purpose here on Earth.

  • Judi

    This is probably some of the best stuff I’ve read in a really long time. I needed this one. Thanks so much for this, Therese. Thanks so very much.

  • Debbie Montgomery

    “Life is not about getting through the storms, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” I love this quote and it is quite the metaphor for life!

  • Your Name

    i only wish that were true. My son had a failed back surgery a year ago. We are his only financial support. We can’t get any help at all
    Our problem is that work comp wants to settle & it isn’t enough money for 1 surgery. He is so afraid & so are we that we don’t know what to do. We are emotionally, physically & financially drained. If we don’t take the settlement, were afraid he will end up with nothing.
    Our laywer says take the money & run.We are past the end of the rope. We pray continously for our son. He’s only 25 & feels his life is over. His scripts are over $1000.00 a month.

  • Vanessa

    This is all easier said than done. I just feel so overwhelmed.

  • Your Name

    We always think that our problems are the worst, but there is always someone worse off then we are. My response to the woman that her son is injured. God has a purpose for EVERYTHING, and everything happens for a reason. Let your faith grow and put the problem in GOD’s hands and he will see you through. He has a plan for not only your son, but the family as a whole. I don’t know how he does it, but everyday you have your son is a blessing, and he will see to it that he has what he and you need. Don’t lose your faith. Trust in GOD.

  • Kay

    Today my world came crashing down around me. Words that I had said has hurt someone that means a lot to me. i know this is miner compared to the son with back pain or a loss of a job but the hurt that i feel is all emcompassing me right now. I pray for forgiveness and the knowledge within myself to listen to my words before i speak them.

  • Your Name

    I agree. There are so many issues & its hard to stop & take a breath ! I have times, many many times :-) where I will get upset,
    frustrated and dis heartened by something going on in my family’s current situation. I ask myself, why do I have to keep suffering thru this, why does this kind of stuff always happen to me, why can’t I ever just get ahead for once & the list goes on and on ! Then I stop and realize – what suffering ? I have a 2 & a half month old daughter who is the most beautiful creature this side of the Heavens ! I have a 8 month old son who is so handsome you could kiss his cheek & not find any sugar as sweet ! I have a husband who is the most loving man around other than God himself ! We all have our health & have almost as much love as those already up in Heaven ! How much more Blessed could I possibly want to be ? Considering 6 years ago I was single, no shot at all of meeting someone , no thoughts of ever having life beyond my own , living day to day not putting anyone else before me because ME was all I had ?! Then I met my soulmate – we have been together 5 yrs and as you can read above have been so truly blessed ! SO YES – there is quite a good deal to be said for stopping, pausing even jsut for a moment…. Take a GOOD look at everything you have , everything you see everyday and you will open your eyes and realize all that you have taken for granted and it will hit you – YOU ARE TRULY BLESSED ! Thank you !

  • Your Name

    i have one misfortune after another, bills are backing up, my identity was stolen i am fixing to be kicked out of my home and lose my car.
    my wife and i have good paying jobs but we just got hit with all this at one time and ro not know what to do

  • Larry Parker

    My (Buddhist) girlfriend thought this was a wonderful lesson — and I agree :-)

  • Your Name

    Hello to all:I need so bad to talk to someone and I have been thru alot the last 4 yrs.What I need to talk about desperately is about my 17 yr old daughter.I am 52,and I consider myself a caring,kind considerate and loving person.That’s me and my daughter is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE.She has no forethought of any kind especially when it comes to ME!I TOLD HER along time ago to always tell me the truth about things!But she LIES AND LIES!I have told her explained to her that I do NOT APPRECIATE WHEN SHE LIES AND DISRESPECT ME SO BAD! I CAN GIVE MANY EXAMPLES.Too many too list. Her same old excuse is “I’M SCARED!NO,I have never gotten mad or on to her for telling me the truth.But also,I can honestly say I can not EVER REMEMBER HER TELLING ME THE TRUTH!!My sister & dad both died of that UGLY DISEASE CALLED CANCER!I was a caregiver to both mainly my daddy.She was like this when she was little too.I let her go places do things with her friends.But she is SO VERY SELFISH!! NO MATTER WHAT she has a tendencey to try to turn things around and make me look bad and I know for a fact that I’M right cause I’ve asked her to do things over &over again.I’M just so tired oF dealing with someone that is UNREASONABLE,DISRESPECTFUL,INCONSIDERATE and just acts like they just plain don’t give a crap about me.She’s my only child & I love her dearly.It hurts me so BAD AND SHE REALLY HAS!! So,PLEASE ANYBODY,SOMEBODY SUGGEST something,answer back,advice etc…I do not want us to fight and argue NO MORE.IT is about to kill ME. I HOPE someone answers back. Love to all PEACE

  • Your Name

    Hi, this is to the woman with the 17 year old, please hang on ! I am a 26 year old only child, and i have never met my father or even seen a picture of him ! I was the same way twards my mom when i was your daughters age ! I felt very angry for not having a father and i blamed it on my mother ( even though she was the ONLY one there for me ! ) Also you have to remember teens are trying to find their OWN identity ! My mom sat me down and WITHOUT yelling or judging each other we had a heart to heart and she let me know that she was always going to be my mom no matter what, and that she would always love me no matter what ! She confided things in me that i would never have expected and that opened the door for me to be able to talk to my mom as a friend ( but believe me she would still put the fear in me if i was disrespectful ! )And now that i know i can talk to my mom about EVERYTHING ! And we are the best of friends now, i even still live with her ( not because i can’t afford to live on my own ( i have a very good job ) but because i WANT to !) No man could ever treat me as sweet and kind as my mom has ! It might take time but she will mature and come to see that you are ALWAYS going to be there for her ! And as long as you have patience and try to remember back to when you were a teenager and do your best to relate to what she is going through, you all will be fine ! Speak to her as if she is your peer not your child ( she is too old for that ) ! You might have to get really tough with her though if she does not give you the respect you deserve ! But as long as you give her respect she should return the favor ! I am bi-polar so i used to be filled with rage ( you might want to get her checked out by a doctor ) ! Or she might just be depressed, either way i am SURE she needs you right now as much as you need her ! I really wish the best for you and your daughter !

  • Dennis Brachfeld

    It is natural for kids to rebel, they need to establish their independence. On a positive note I say my son is a great student and very punctual, and I take credit for it because he is naturally rebelling against his father.

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