A. Too many choices. This I see as a huge challenge for us in the modern world to work with. Historically, those aspiring to practising the Way had for the most part few chances to raise their own personal horizons in the ways that we can through, for example, life-transforming education or wealth accumulation. They would have been familiar with a more simple grounded life and, crucially, not have had the option of chopping and changing traditions when things became difficult for them. They would have accepted what was probably the only tradition that existed in their country, so denying mara the opportunity he or she now has in the West of tempting them to avoid their difficulties by hopping around from one to another of the many Buddhist schools or traditions on offer. So surely life would have been so much simpler than ours today, and probably involved just one outstanding desire – spiritual fulfilment?

Back in those times it would surely have been the norm to accept that simplicity, and be grateful they had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food in their stomachs. With these basics gratefully in place, they could give themselves to the practice whilst accepting their conditions, and not have to deal with the sort of restlessness for a ‘better’ material life that plagues most of us today. Simplicity and acceptance are two of the most crucial virtues needed for spiritual transformation, yet we in the West have not much of either.