So What? … …

So What?
So What!
So What!?

“So what” … sweet sound to the ears, and perhaps the mind as well.  Two over months ago, Jan 3 2008 to be exact, during a Dhamma talk at Taipei Buddhist Centre, an participant uttered these magic words “So What?”.  To some it was a challenge to the explanations given, while to others, its a curt retort to the speaker.  To me, I just love it! … if monks are allowed to at least ‘love’ some idea … 😉

To me, it was excellent that that man thought of the question “So what?”.  It implied to me that he was interested in not just listening to mere recitation
of someone’s teachings, but is genuinely concerned about the practical implications of it.  Or at least that’s how I interpreted his “So what?”.  If he meant it any other ways, I didn’t know it. 🙂

I replied by congratulating him on his question; that we Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike need to open our eyes to see and our mind to inquire, to paraphrase myself that day.  My point is that, when we read a book, or listen to a talk, we should listen with an open heart, but not just take everything as it is and leave it at that.  We should inquire further on the practical implications of it in our daily lives!

Each time we attend a talk or a class, we should ask ourselves, how does knowing this help us?  Or others?  Or both?   How do I apply it in my life to bring more peace and less stress?

For that matter, we should not just ask ourselves this question when it comes to Buddhist Teachings,  but to other things as well.  So you didn’t get that promotion this time round … so what?  So she likes someone else and not you (or him you or otherwise) … so what?  So your son failed in his exams … so what?  Now I’m not advocating the other extreme of aloofness.  Rather, I’m saying, put things in perspective.  Make a checklist of things going right for you.  By right, I don’t mean perfect, I mean “good enough”.  Then compare the thing that didn’t work out for you.  You’ve managed so far in your life without that one thing, so why should it, or the lack thereof, make you miserable now?

Sometimes we give ourselves reasons to be miserable and we should stop.  And learn to be content and not spend our precious human life searching the world for a better life.   Instead, we can and should learn to reflect more on our own life and be grateful.  Having more does not always bring more happiness.  More often than not, it leads to more worry and stress.

So the next time, you encounter something, be it a teaching or a difficulty in life, ask yourself … So what? 🙂