Stress is a mental condition in human mind. It could arise for many causes and sometimes it is common to all the minds because every person has expectations in their lives and whenever they fail to achieve their expectations their mind become stressful. Covetousness, over expectations, and lack of knowledge about the reality are close reasons to stressfulness in the mind. Whenever the mind become stressful people worry about that, grief, cry, become mad, commit suicide, fight with others, and do other inappropriate deeds.
Tanhāya jāyati soko – tanhāya jāyati bhayan
tanhāya vippamuttassa – natti soko kuto bhayan
According to this verse the root for all the stresses is desire / craving. As long as the mind is overcome by desire, mind cannot free from stresses because, if the mind is overcome by desire that mind becomes unconcentrated and untamed. So it cannot see the reality as it is and on account of that grief, cry, become mad, commit suicide, fight with others, and do other inappropriate deeds are come to the mind.
On the other hand five hindrances are affected to the arising stress in the mind. Sensual desire, anger, sloth and toper, restlessness and worry, and doubt are reasons for the stresses in the mind. However all these roots are starting from the craving. Therefore, if someone can restrain one’s mind by overcoming ones’ craving in the mind that becomes the way of managing stresses according to Buddhism and it is the one and only way to make one’s mind calm and concentrated.
Stress management in Buddhism
Stress which has caused to most of the health problems and circumstances should be managed by the leader if he want to achieve his goals in a successful way. So many people are suffering from stress. People who work normal job hours and have normal-sized families. Most people assume that chronic stress is due to having too much work and too little time. In my experience the answer is not quite as straightforward. People who are stressed often have a diary bulging with urgent appointments and their personal life. But that alone does not explain why people are so stressed.
What is stress?
Stress in a physiological reaction within the brain that causes changes to the body accordingly but more realistically its a build up of pressure that cause worry to the person and can have some.
The word stress has been derived from the latin word “Strictus” meaning hardship adversity or affliction. It later evolved in middle English to be known as stress and in old. French “estresse” stress has been defined from three perspectives namely environmental or external to the body, as a mental state of tension or internal and body’s own physical reaction.
The concepts dawn from Indian culture and tradition to represent the concept of stress in the East.
There are a lot of related stories to prove that a lot of people came to the Buddha with stressed mind for refuge. Patachara, kisagotami, rajjumala, sunita, angulimala, alavaka etc. there are reasons for all these mentalities and Buddhism has provided techniques to overcome them.
There are a lot of references that are related to stress management in Buddhism. Most of them are suttas and some of them are inseption stories and jataka tales. I will discuss about stress management by basing on following topics.
1. Sabbasava sutta
2. Vitakkasanthana sutta
3. Mahadukkakhanda sutta
4. Anumana sutta
5. Bhayaberava sutta
6. Aranavibhanga sutta
7. Satipatthana sutta
8. Mettanisansa sutta
Apart from these suttas there are some other Buddhist methods as well.
1. Practising eight fold path
3. Practising Ānāpānasati in satipattāna sutta
4. In anguttara nikaya it has 10 reasons to eradicate stress.
5. Practising four sublime stress:-mettā, karunā, Muditā, uppekkhā)
6. Sapta Bojjana:-
Practicing loving kindness meditation also can be introduced as a very valuable method in order to reduce anger from the mind.
Sabbasava sutta and stress management.
People become stressful because of defilements and cankers. So, sabbasava sutta introduces seven methods to overcome stress. Therefore these methods are very significant to overcome stresses in human mind. They are;
1. Dassana pahatabba
There are some sorts of cankers that have to be overcome by seeing and observing with wisdom. Person should be contemplated on what is to be contemplated and he mustn’t reflect on what is not to be contemplated. Desire, anger, and delusion are the thoughts what not to be contemplated. As long as one does not reflect on thoughts what are not to be reflected can overcome arisen stresses and disappear unborn stresses in future.
2. Sanvara pahatabba
Person becomes stressful for his eye by seeing forms that are beautiful or ugly. But, those who tamed or controlled their desire for forms is controlled in eye. In the same way ear, nous, tongue, and body to be controlled in rder to overcome stresses, anxiety, worry, restlessness and all the cankers.
3. Patisevana pahatabba
On the other hand person becomes stressful if he doesn’t concentrate on the reason to have foods, cloths, homes, and medicine. As a result he increases his desire and makes his mind stressful.
4. Adhivasana pahatabba
As a being he has to tolerate the natural influences without becoming stressful. Beings have to be patient whenever they have troubles of mosquitos, flies, serpents, cold, heat, sun light, wind etc… all these influences have to be tolerated with a patient mind and then mind becomes stressless.
5. Parivajjana pahatabba
There are some sorts of stresses that should be overcome by avoiding. Association with an unsuitable beings and places is troublesome. So, one has to avoid those beings and places to contemplate his mind which is lack of stresses.
6. Vinodana pahatabba
There are stresses that have to be overcome by considering defects of sorrowful results of the feelings that are harmful to oneself. Thoughts of desire, thoughts of anger, and thoughts of delusion are to be overcome by considering the defects of them.
7. Bhavana pahatabba
Some stresses have to be overcome by developing the mind. Being mindful is helping to understand the nature as it is and that mind is able to understand that there is nothing to be worry about anything. That mid is free from stresses because of developing mindfulness.
Vitakkasanthana sutta and stress management.
Vitakkasanthana sutta of majjima nikaya also describes about five methods of stress management. In other words five facts to reflector contemplate.
1. Añña nimitta- when desire, anger or delusion arises in the mind, he has to reflect on another wholesome thought instead of above unwholesome thoughts.
2. Adinavoupaparikkhato – by observing the defects, reactions or bad effects of the thoughts arisen in the mind, one is able to overcome the stresses in the mind.
3. Asathi – avoiding the contemplating on unwholesome thoughts. If some thoughts bring unsaticefaction or suffering to the mind one has to get rid of contemplating on that unwholesome thought.
4. Vitakkamulabheda – where there is a stress there should be a cause for it. So, searching for the cause and observing it and avoid from that stress.
5. Abhinigganhato – if there is a stress or defilements such as covetousness, anger, delusion that defiles the mind, one has to eradicate that thought with a help of a wholesome thought.
Mahadukkakkhanda sutta and stress management.
Mahadukkakkhanda sutta also a sutta which is related to stress management of the mind. One has to reflect on three natures of an evil thought.
Assadsa – every sensual feeling or a sensual pleasure has a taste or a pleasure. One has to realize that the person clinging on this pleasure with a polluted mind. If someone eager to the pleasure automatically his mind becomes stressful. Therefor it is good to know the nature of the pleasure.
Adinava – even though sensual thoughts and pleasure bring the joy it has a hidden suffering, because pleasure also not forever and it is also disappears in no time. As long as one understands the adinava of the pleasure, he tries to overcome it in proper way.
Nissarana – nissarana means getting rid of unsaticefaction. By seeing the reality of the world one can realize that when one gets rid of pleasure by understanding its’ nature is able to overcome all the stresses. This is the way by which one can overcome stress by following the mahadukkakkhanda sutta.
Anumana sutta and stress management.
According to Anumana sutta of Majjima nikaya we can find out sixteen methods for being stressful ones’ mind. As a matter of fact these cause to defile the persons’ mind.
1. Papiccho hoti (sinful and mean desires)
2. Attukkansako hoti
(despising others and thinking oneself is the supreme )
3. Kodhano hoti (getting angry)
4. Kodhahetu upanahi (being hateful)
5. Kodhahetu abhisangi (making conflicts)
6. Kodhasamanna vacan nicchareta (using bad words for anger)
7. Cudito chodakena apasadeti
(one does not accept ones’ mistakes that others show)
8. Cudito chodakena codakan apasadeti
(insulting the person who shows the mistake)
9. Cudito chodakena codakassa paccharopeti
(when someone accuse for a mistake, the accused also re-accuse)
10. Cudito chodakena annenannam paticarati
(when someone shows mistake accused try to cover by telling things excuse)
11. Cudito chodakena apadanena sampayati
(being answerless when someone accuse on ones’ mistakes)
12. Makkhi hoti palasi (ungrateful and blaming to others)
13. Issuki hoti macchari (enviousness and covetousness)
14. Satho hoti mayavi (cunning and deceptive)
15. Thaddho hoti atimano (callous and excessive pride)
16. Sanditthi paramasi hoti.
(clinging on ones’ view without accepting others views)
Thus, according to Buddhist teachings there are thousands of ways to manage stresses and overcome defilements. It is true that all the people are not satisfying with what they received. On account of that they grief, lament and become stressful. So, Buddhism suggests these ways to overcome stresses and leading the mind to the peace.
As long as the mind is overcome by desire, mind cannot free from stresses because, if the mind is overcome by desire that mind becomes unconcentrated and untamed. So it cannot see the reality as it is and on account of that grief, cry, become mad, commit suicide, fight with others, and do other inappropriate deeds are come to the mind.
On the other hand five hindrances are affected to the arising stress in the mind. Sensual desire, anger, sloth and toper, restlessness and worry, and doubt are reasons for the stresses in the mind. However all these roots are starting from the craving. Therefore, if someone can restrain one’s mind by overcoming ones’ craving in the mind that becomes the way of managing stresses according to Buddhism and it is the one and only way to make one’s mind calm and concentrated. There are a lot of related stories to prove that a lot of people came to the Buddha with stressed mind for refuge.
Sabāsava Sutta, Majjima Nikāya, Mūlapariyàyavagga.
Vitakkasanthana Sutta. (M.i. 20) BJTS
Mahadukkakkhanda sutta Majjima nikaya BJTS
Anumana sutta Majjhima Nikaya - Muulapannaasa - Siihanaada Vagga – 15th sutta
Ven. Sumiththa T.
Sri Lankan Buddhist Cultural Centre - Hong Kong
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan,
Kowloon, Hong Kong