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When The Student Is Ready, The Teacher Will Arrive

A Reader Wrote:

Hello Brian,  I am married to a wonderful lady and it really bothers me to see her suffering over small things that I once suffered from.

Just this morning, we bounced a check and it was like we were going to be on skid row.

I try to share certain things with her without trying to cram it down her throat. I recall reading…”When the student is ready the teacher will arrive.”  Also, I know that I’m not alone when it comes to wanting to share the  methods that helped relieve some of my suffering. Sometimes I wonder (darn thinking!  LOL) what it would be like if she sought the same types of things and understood that there is a way to enjoy our time here.

Acceptance, patience, being still and quiet are the things that seem to help me for now. If I’m missing something, or you have a tip for me, I would appreciate it.

My Response:

You quoted, “When the student is ready the teacher will arrive,” which is true.

Someone else who wasn’t Buddha, once said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”

The problem with the situation you are describing is that the student isn’t ready. You say acceptance, patience, and being still have helped you. They’ve certainly helped me over the years as well. Some people, on the other hand, are just less passive, always feeling the need to “act.” I’m not saying there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that. I believe the psychologists when they say there are “Type A” and “Type B” personalities. Type B’s are much more passive, calm, and predisposed towards the quieter ideals of Buddhism.  Type A people can do Buddhism too, of course, but it might be a little more difficult if they aren’t naturally drawn to it.

Next time you see she’s depressed, or in some state that you think you can help, simply ask her if she wants to know how you would deal with it. Explain it to her clearly and rationally. She’ll either show interest, or she won’t. As you said, short of shoving it down her throat, there’s not much else you ca do but gently bring it up once in a while.

Perhaps there will be some additional suggestions in the comment section below.

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2 comments to When The Student Is Ready, The Teacher Will Arrive

  • Hi, I tend to feel that sometimes these kinds of suggestions might irritate a person more than console and comfort. The reason being that they seem to emanate from a place of ‘moral superiority. Your suggestions may be given with the best possible intentions, but often these things can back fire, especially when their novelty has worn off a little. On the other hand your constant and calm example will very likely do more help than anything else and also be the cool breeze that helps her to slowly begin to change her own ways and habits…. Never a quick or easy thing to do. Best wishes.

  • Mark


    In answer to your question, yes you are missing something.

    I’m sorry but I get the impression a reality check is due here. It’s disappointing to hear that you ‘bounced’ a check. If you write a check that bounces it means either that you are not keeping your finances under control, you are desperately short of money, or you deliberately tried to deceive the person you wrote the check to. I’m assuming that it’s not the latter, but in any case your ‘wonderful woman’ is absolutely right to be upset and concerned, your finances are in a mess and somebody was cheated because they didn’t get the money you owed them. Writing a bouncing check is not a ‘small thing’ that your wife shouldn’t be worried about, it’s fraud. I think you should be aware of this and feeling very concerned too and not trying to lecture her about how calm you are.

    Your letter gives the impression that you really don’t care about bouncing the check because you are so full of Buddhist learning. You express no remorse, but imply your wife is at fault because she is concerned about it. It’s not made fully clear if she is concerned about being short of money and on ‘skid row’, or the fact that your check cheated someone else, or the whole situation. Perhaps you aren’t fully aware of her true feelings on this.

    Please may I say, Buddhism is not teaching that you should go through the day doing all kinds of incompetent and irresponsible things and not worrying about it, it’s about being an aware and caring person who takes responsibility for their actions and tries to do right. That said, we all have to understand our failings and try to improve. If we genuinely do that then we can achieve a certain calm because we know we are doing our best under the guidance of the Buddha and we have not done too much wrong in the world.

    May the blessings of the Buddha be upon you.