Solving the 84th Problem
Once upon a time an affluent farmer approached Buddha with great hope. He prostrated before the sage and sought his blessings. Buddha raised his hand in benediction.
“O Venerable One!” the farmer said, “I have a major problem and I know only you can help me.”
Buddha kept quiet and the man went onto narrate that his good-for-nothing son was troubling him and that he was mad at his wife because she supported her son over him.
The man said, “Do something so their minds change and they realize how much I’m doing for them.”
“I can’t solve this problem for you,” Buddha replied and lowered his eyes again, in a meditative state.
The farmer told Buddha how he was worried about the upcoming harvest as the weather didn’t seem too favorable and the monkeys were destroying his crop.
“I can’t help you with this one either,” Buddha said calmly.
Still hoping in the powers of Buddha, he told him that many people owed him money and he was having hard time recovering it from his debtors. And that he too owed money to lenders and creditors. He asked Buddha if the sage could give him any remedy or amulet.
“Hmm…” Buddha said, “I can’t solve this problem for you.”
“What good are you then?” the man yelled. “Everyone says you are the enlightened one and here you can’t solve any of my problems. Is there absolutely nothing you can do? I’m tired of my terrible life.”
“You see,” Buddha said patiently, as if he hadn’t heard the man’s tirade, “at any point in time, you’ll always have 84 problems in your life. The 84th is the key.
If you solve the 84th problem, the first 83 will resolve themselves.”
“Please solve my 84th problem then,” the man said, going back to being humble. “How do I do it?” he added.
“First, we have to identify your 84th problem.”
“What is my 84th problem?”Buddha smiled and peered deeply into the man’s eyes that were full of desire, doubt and anxiety.
“Your 84th problem is,” Buddha said and paused, “ you think you shouldn’t have any problems.”