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Lojong 13) Be grateful to everyone

3. Using Adversity (11 – 15)

Obstacles presented by others are some of the very best opportunities to develop.

    You may begin using this saying with the most obvious opportunities.  This occurs when we encounter the irritating and sadly unenlightened people we meet each day.  These are people like the rude ones who honk at us from their cars, or break in line, or are incompetent at their jobs.  I recently had a "customer service" experience with my cellular telephone carrier that was a huge opportunity for me to learn from adversity.  (Why yes, it was AT&T, how did you know?)  I will not burden you with all of the details.  The point is that while I may have compassion for the ignorance and suffering the "service representatives" cause for themselves and others, I still have to take care of business.  I attempted to do this without becoming so perturbed that it interfered with my peace of mind, while at the same time holding on to the energy needed to do what it took to resolve the issue.  (Such as send a registered letter to the company president, contact my state attorney general, etc.)  I was just trying to be funny when I called my issue with AT&T, "the mother of all Jihads".)  My issue was resolved after a few weeks.

     I felt anger and compassion for the ignorance of the "service representatives".  Anger for the obvious reason, and compassion because they were obviously stuck in an employment situation in which they were instructed by someone to say, "we don't have to refund all the money; do you want the $150.00 or not".  (I was able to obtain the entire $1200 that AT&T owed me.)

     However, I contend this sort of situation is relatively easy to use as an opportunity because there is a clear discrimination, from my expectation of what will happen to that which actually occurred.  The same is true of the honked horn.  It may actually jar me into awareness of the opportunity it presents to examine my own issues; and it abruptly challenges my ability to have compassion in action.  These abrupt and clearly external situations are easier than situations in relationships with others that are maintained on a daily or even intimate basis.

     In these intimate relationships, the emotions, issues, and problems are more complicated.  How do I know when my own behavior has set the occasion for the behavior in the other person?  It is so much easier when the opportunity for enlightenment hits us out of the blue.  When it creeps up on us day by day, it is much harder to be fully aware.

     My suggestion for using this Lojong is simply start with the opportunities that are easily discriminated, then gradually work your way up to analyzing how your intimate relationships provide opportunities to develop.


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