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Maintaining Right Resolve in Difficult Times

It’s too easy to focus on what’s wrong with the world. While we need to do that sometimes, because you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge it and understand it, that process is terribly draining. It takes effort to see positive things these day. Sometimes it feels impossible to find anything hopeful. Other times it seems like you need to crawl through fields of broken glass just to get to one small bit of joy. Today I want to talk about my meditations on maintaining Right Resolve in difficult times, and how that can help navigate this world without taking on all of its pain.

Right Resolve is another step along the Noble Eightfold Path. It can be interpreted as having the correct motivation, doing things for the right reasons. I tend to think of it as the Buddhist equivalent of the Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. If you can’t do good, then at least refrain from doing evil and creating more suffering. That extends to not harming one’s self, directly or indirectly.

Part of it requires renouncing worldly things. That’s a loaded term, and a huge concept. Most people have no desire to lead a simple, austere life, and that’s okay. We can be selective about what we reject. When we choose to let go of something — food that’s bad for us, toxic relationships, the fire hose of negativity that is the 24-hour news cycle — we do so for a reason.

I suggest that when we make the conscious choice to hold onto something, it should also have a reason. We need to approach our attachments mindfully, and they need to serve some clear purpose. There needs to be some benefit that outweighs the harm.

May we all be well, happy and peaceful, may no harm come to us, may we all also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

Right Resolve in Difficult Times

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