We frequently encounter adversity in cyclic existence. When our mind is filled with afflictions, adversities come quite easily. When the mind isn’t filled with afflictions, we can be peaceful and open even when we face difficult situations. How we interpret the situation influences how we will experience it. That’s why it is so important to transform our mind.

But when we have problems, do we think of transforming our mind? Usually, we think that the situation is unfair, that others are wrong for treating us badly, and that they should change. When we blame others, we are essentially giving our power to them because we’re thinking, “My problem and my unhappiness is the fault of that person. They have to change and then I’ll be happy.” Looking at the situation this way is a dead-end because we can’t make them change. The only person we can possibly change is ourselves. Instead of either feeling sorry for ourselves or stewing in our anger, we need to change how we are viewing the situation.

There are several ways we can look at an adverse situation in order to transform it into joy and courage. If we firmly believe and understand karma—that our actions produce the corresponding results we experience—we will know that if we criticize others, inevitably others will criticize us. We created the cause for it with our anger, our judgmental, critical mind, and our tendency to blame others. Once we acknowledge that we create our own misery and whatever we experience is due to our having done something similar to someone in this or previous lives, it becomes easy to begin practicing the Dharma and transforming adversity into the path.

By treating others with kindness and compassion, we create the causes for our own future happiness. Understanding this, we will be more conscientious and mindful of our actions, bringing more peace in our life and influencing others in a positive way.

Peace and Love, Jim

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