We all have people in our lives for whom we’re grateful. We’re thankful for all the joy, happiness, love and laughter these people bring into our lives. We can clearly see all the many ways in which we benefit from the presence of our loved ones. In contrast, we often find it quite difficult to discern how we could possibly benefit from those who seem to act rudely towards us, ignore us or push us to the side. We tend to think of these people as obstacles to our happiness and well-being. However, if we take a closer look, we’ll find that in the process of walking a spiritual path nothing is wasted and everyone we encounter has merit.
Spiritual evolution involves a great deal of patience. Practicing patience teaches us to not only be forgiving and understanding of why others do as they do. It also teaches us to forgive our selves and understand why we do as we do. When others seem to act rudely towards us we often think in terms of them not acting the way we wish they would. We say to our selves and others, “If they would only say this or do that, I’d feel so much better about them. “ However, if everyone did exactly as we wished where would arise the opportunity to practice patience? In that kind of perfect world, where would arise the opportunity for us to challenge our own views? In essence, these “difficult” people provide fertile ground from which wisdom can grow. Without them, life is a simple cakewalk with little or no opportunity to put into real-time practice the very things which allow us to progress on the path. It’s quite easy to sit around and talk about peace and love and understanding when everyone around us agrees with what we say or how we think. It’s quite easy to talk about these things and “practice” spiritual teachings when everyone around us is kind, considerate and treats us with the respect we feel is due us. But is that really practicing? Is that truly living out the full potential of what this precious life offers in the way of spiritual evolution? This is not to say that we should allow others to completely run over us. If someone’s actions are clearly harmful to us, that person or others, we’d be unwise to patiently abide out and out abuse. The point is that if we try and run away from everyone who rubs us the wrong way, we’ll ultimately miss out on many opportunities to evolve spiritually. These people are actually quite valuable and if we allow ego to prevent us from seeing this we will only hamper our own development.
The next time someone seems to go out of their way to be rude to you, challenge yourself to practice patience. Ask yourself if what you think is true. Ask yourself if you can be certain about the other person’s intentions. Ask yourself if it’s really that important to be “right”. In your mind, thank that person for presenting a challenge which will ultimately give rise to understanding. This thankfulness alone will change your point of view, your emotions and ultimately your actions. If we allow our selves to meet the challenge when difficulty arises in life, we will be in a much better position to further understand our own nature and all those around us. If we think in these terms, absolutely no encounter with another human being will be wasted. Every interaction, no matter how difficult, is an opportunity for growth.