The 84th Problem
One afternoon a farmer who had heard that the Buddha was a wonderful teacher came to the Buddha seeking relief from his suffering. “I'm a farmer,” he said to the Buddha, “And I love farming. But last summer we had a drought and nearly starved, while this summer, we had too much rain and some of my crops did not
do as well as I would have liked.”
The Buddha sat and listened to the farmer. “I have a wife, too. She's a great woman, a wonderful wife. But sometimes she can really nag me. And to tell you the truth, sometimes I get a little tired of her.” The Buddha continued to listen and smile, as the farmer continued. “I've got three kids. They're all really great. I'm really proud of them. But sometimes they don't listen to me and don't pay me the respect I deserve.”
It went on like this for awhile, and then when finished with his litany, the farmer waited for the Buddha to solve his problems.
“I can't help you,” said the Buddha.
“What!” responded the farmer, “I've heard that you are a great master. How can you not help me?”
“Well,” the Buddha replied, “First of all, everyone has problems. In fact, everyone's got about 83 problems. Of course, you may fix one now and then, but another one will pop up in it's place. If you think about it, everyone you know and all that you care for is subject to change — it's all impermanent. And you yourself are going to die someday. Now there's a problem.”
The farmer was red in the face. “What kind of teacher are you!? How is this supposed to help me?!” he retorted.
“Well....perhaps I can help you with the 84th problem,” answered the Buddha.
“What 84th problem?” asked the farmer.
“You don't want to have any problems.”
~photo by Eric Reed