Life's Valuable Lessons

By Jayaram V

Harmony of Creatures

Karma is essentially about learning lessons in your life from your actions, imperfections and mistakes. Jayaram V

My friend has a dog, a male golden retriever. Every day he takes care of him with lot of love and attention. Because the dog is sensitive, he needs exercise, regular food, love, and attention. He serves him with a lot of patience as Mother Teresa would have looked after a helpless person. I learned from him that it was initially supposed to be his daughter's duty for which he agreed to adopt the dog. However, it fell upon him since she lost interest in the pet, as many children do once they reach adolescence.

My friend does not consider that the pet is a burden. Instead he feels grateful because having the pet around him gives him many opportunities every day to show his human side and serve him with love and compassion. He even admits that he used to be a tough person and pensive with people, but the dog mellowed his heart and taught him empathy and caring.

I know another person, whose son is paraplegic. It puts enormous strain upon her to look after his helpless child, who remains confined to the bed or a chair and needs assistance for everything. In a country like the USA, you can understand how difficult it is for a person to look after a sick child, besides doing two jobs to take care of the household expenses and the expenses for the medical treatment. Unlike many people I have seen, who feel irritated and angered by their children when they act unreasonably, she believes that the child has given her an opportunity to practice patience and unconditional love. "No school and no spiritual books can teach you that with such directness," she says. When she goes to the Church, she prays for her son's recovery. At the same time, she also thanks God for the opportunity the child has given her to resonate with Christian virtues of love, forgiveness, and compassion.

Do not be under the impression that what I have stated are exceptional or extraordinary situations, or the people involved are special. We all get such opportunities, millions of times, almost every day and in every situation. We just do not recognize them or take advantage of them. Countless people come into your life, with different mindsets, attitudes, behavior, demands and expectations. They teach you important lessons if you are willing to learn, and give you opportunities to learn, to be good and do good. They are the teachers that life throws at you to polish your mind and elevate your thinking, behavior, strength and character.

As they interact with you differently, you may experience different positive and negative emotions. From each of them you can learn something about yourself and work on your imperfections. Other people's weaknesses and imperfections do not have to provoke your weakness and imperfections. If you are willing to learn, they can make you a better, and emotionally stronger person.

For example, some people in your life may easily annoy you by touching your emotional tender spots. From them, you can learn the virtue of tolerance and patience, or the strength to deal such people without losing your humanity. Some may make you feel small, weak, or envious, especially if they are happier or more successful than you. From them, you can develop strength and courage to accept yourself and make peace with your life and achievements, without negavitely judging yourself. You can also learn to value your own judgment, freedom, and independence. When people betray your trust or show the mean side of their behavior, you can learn from them valuable lessons about studying human character and building right relationships.

Wise people and spiritual masters say that adversity is a gift from God and you should not complain to God about the pain he gives through various situations and circumstances in your life. While we do not know whether God directly causes them or Nature has embedded a certain transformative, and evolutionary mechanism in the design of life to facilitate our mental and emotional development, the truth is you can use the negative situations in your life to build your character and strength. When you have a situation that emotionally upsets you, ask yourself, "What lessons I can learn from this or from the person who caused it." You may be surprised to know the answers that spring from your mind.

The people in your life are there for a reason. You have a karmic connection with them. They are meant to teach you certain lessons with their knowledge as well as ignorance, and with their perfections and imperfections. So are you. Therefore participate in the school of life and wisdom like a student eager to learn and improve. Learn from people and situations lessons about the art of living. Use both positive and negative aspects of your life, with an open mind, setting aside your likes and dislikes. Learn from good as well as bad situations and interactions. Nourish your mind from both complimentary and cross conversations, from people who love and hate you, and from those you love and hate. When people exemplify negative qualities, you can learn from them too by knowing how to deal with them, when to tolerate them and when to stay away from them. They are opportunities that life gives you to improve your character, knowledge and wisdom.

Therefore, if you have a problem right now, or if there are difficult people in your life who are disturbing you and giving you sleepless nights, ask yourself, what lessons you can learn from them, what weaknesses they are provoking in you, and how you can make use of them. This way every situation in your life becomes a positive opportunity to learn and become a better human being.

For Further Reading

The image for this article is adapted from the painting, "Harmony of Creatures" by Margret Hofheinz-Döring under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. The essay is copyright Selfhelpvision.com
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