Dealing with Difficult Situations

Unedited Transcript:

We have a short talk this morning, focusing on the Jivana Ritau. We only have three weeks left in the Jivana Ritau here. I thought it was a good time to review the sadhana that we have been emphasizing since the beginning of the ritau, so we can put extra energy into fulfilling it during the next three weeks.

The sadhana that we have been working on since the beginning of the ritau is, 'Facing Difficult Situations' and is described as follows.

As we all know, life can give us difficult situations to face. We are treated unfairly. Our friends seem to turn against us and no longer be trustworthy. Our feelings are hurt by how we are spoken to and treated by another.

It is easy to be happy and content when we are not facing difficult situations. The challenge is to find a way to be happy and content, even in the midst of difficult situations. Handling difficult situations without emotion and with wisdom is, of course, the key.

The suggested response has three principles with which we are quite familiar.

First principle: Forego retaliation.

Second principle: Accept responsibility.

Third principle: Forgive the offender.

How do we determine how well we are following these three principles?

A simple but effective way of self-evaluation is to look at the nature of our relationships with others. How many of these people do we feel close to and speak freely with? How many do we dislike and only speak the minimum to?

Of course, it is this latter group that is the basis of self-evaluation. For someone to be in this group means they said or did something to us in the past for which we have not forgiven them and forgotten the event. Once we have identified the individuals we have not forgotten and forgiven, the task of course, is to forgive them fully. This can be hard to do, particularly when the individual hurt us deeply.

Fortunately, Gurudeva gives us some excellent guidelines in 'Living with Siva' in the section called, 'The Art of Forgiveness'.

The key to the art of forgiveness is seeing the apparent injustices of life, as the self-created reactions of our own past actions in this or a former life. We must also be grateful to others for playing back to us our previous actions so that we can see our mistakes and experience the same feelings we must have caused in others. It is in this way that we are purified and trained not to commit the same adharmic acts again.

In other words, when we suffer from a hurtful action toward us we clearly understand how others would feel if we acted that way toward them. This catalyzes the process of learning from our experiences and resolving to improve our behavior by definitely not acting that way toward others in the future, as we do not want to cause them the same pain they caused us.

Unfortunately, this response is usually not what occurs. Rather than being happy at having been hurt and mistreated by another, we are unhappy. Rather than seeing the cause of this event as lying within us, we see the other person being totally at fault. Rather than learning the lesson from the experience, we learn nothing and simply resent the other person or worst yet, retaliate against the other person.

However, those committed to the spiritual path do need to take the high-minded approach of gratefully accepting the event, understanding that we caused it to happen to us and learning its lesson so that our behavior improves as a result of it.

Our last thought on this subject is a quote from Gurudeva on having a happy future.

"To have a happy future with your family and friends, don't ignore difficulties that come up between you. Sit down with them and talk things over. Stand on your own two feet, head up and spine straight and bring it all out in the open. Let them know how you feel about what they said or what they did. Especially in Asia, so many things are swept under the carpet, not talked about and left to smolder and mold there. But now in today's world, we must clean up the mess in order to go along into a happy future. The basic foundation of Sanatana Dharma is ahimsa -non-hurtfulness physically, mentally and emotionally. We must always remember this."

Aum Namah Sivaya! Three weeks left, perfect it!