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Lions Roar : July 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN jULy 2009 76 could take another approach. in working with people and their problems, we could accept that those problems might never be solved. the other person may or may not be able to deal with their situation and we may or may not be able to help them. that is the reality and we need to accept that. No amount of worrying is going to change that. it is difficult to be with a loved one who is unhappy and suffering, and it is tempting to want to save the day and make everything better. we want their pain to go away—and we are uncomfortable with our own pain as well. that ground of mutual pain and rawness is an intensely claustrophobic and forbidding territory to explore. rather than looking into it, we would like to get out of it, to fix it. But we need to examine that notion of “fixing,” particularly the idea of fixing others. we need to question our concepts about how we want things to be and what we want people to become. if we can let go of some of that, we will see more clearly what we can and cannot do. we can learn not to obsess about all the problems we cannot solve, but to sort through them to find the one or two things we can actually do that might be helpful. it is better to do one small helpful thing than punish yourself for the many things beyond your power and ability to change or affect. some problems can be solved, some cannot, and some are best left unsolved. shantideva, the great indian teacher of the mahayana Bud- dhist tradition, said that if we could do something positive we should just do it. so why worry? he said that if we cannot do something about a problem, we should accept that. so why wor- ry? the trick is to keep it simple—either do something or don’t. As we grow and develop and learn from our experience, we are more likely to be able to help people who are struggling more than we are. we can learn when to help and when to step back, and we can see other people grow, as we have, through struggle and hard- ship. however, although we can prepare ourselves to face tough times, we have no real control over others. we can support the people we love and worry about, but we cannot solve their prob- lems for them—and neither can anyone solve our problems for us. But we can be together with those we love, problems unsolved. Al- though each of us must face our own individual journey through life alone, we can travel together, bound by love. ♦ For resources and further reading on Caring for Others and Practicing With Illness, go to www.shambhalasun.com. It is better to do one small helpful thing than punish yourself for the many things beyond your power to change. We can be together with those we love, problems unsolved. AN ANTHOLOGY Edited by Anne Waldman and Laura Wright Beats AT NAROPA David Henderson Hettie Jones Joanne Kyger Michael McClure Marjorie Perloff Edward Sanders Gary Snyder Janine Pommy Vega Philip Whalen Amiri Baraka William S. Burroughs Lorna Dee Cervantes Ann Charters Clark Coolidge Gregory Corso Diane di Prima Allen Ginsberg GOOD BOOKS ARE BREWING AT WWW.COFFEEHOUSEPRESS.ORG NewfromCoffeeHousePressNever-before-collectedessays,talks,andinterviewswiththeluminariesofBeatliterature.