11. When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.

When things go wrong, when we encounter obstacles, the last thing on our minds is the dharma. Instead, what is the first thing on our minds? Ourselves! It is all about how we are being inconvenienced, burdened, put upon, attacked, misunderstood, rejected—you name it. Not only do we lose track of the path, but our concern for others goes into hibernation as we focus front and center on our own particular problem.

Is it possible to use the very obstacles that block us and cause us to close down as a means of awakening? If so, it would be great, as there is certain to be no shortage of mishaps, and who can think of a time when the world was not filled with evil? When all was harmonious and at peace?

According to this slogan, you do not have to pretend that everything is okay. And you do not have to wait for things to get better in order to practice. Instead of viewing mishaps as personal attacks, you can include them in your practice. You might even welcome them, for it is when you face difficulties, not when things are going smoothly, that you learn the most. That is what tests the strength of your practice.  

Transformation does not mean that all our problems go away or that we overcome all our difficulties. It does not mean that the world is suddenly all rosy. It means that the path of dharma is big enough to accommodate whatever arises, good or bad. When you work with mishaps using the tools of mindfulness and loving-kindness, your relationship to such mishaps is transformed—and in the process, so are you.

Today’s practice

As obstacles arise throughout the day, pay particular attention to your immediate response and the assumptions embedded in that response. Where is the awakening and where do you get stuck?

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