One of the great things about Buddhism is its ability to transform anything, and everything, into the path of awakening. In Buddhism, we try to solve all our problems in life by treating them as opportunities to develop spiritual qualities in us that otherwise wouldn’t be cultivated. Often when we have a problem confronting us – that is all we can see – the problem. It’s a dark, ugly tunnel that seems to go on forever and we can’t see any exit out. This can quickly lead to feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness, and despondency. But what might look like a disaster to us, from another perspective, could actually be something quite fortunate. In fact, how every situation is perceived is simply a matter of opinion. If everyone else can look at the same situation and view it as something different, then perhaps we can too.
Maybe getting sick isn’t a disaster but a fantastic opportunity for us to slow down and find some balance in our lives. Perhaps losing our job is the shove we need to really find our true calling and follow what we’re really passionate about. Maybe our friend backstabbing us is the wakeup call that we need to find better friends.
The important thing is to recognise that there is nothing that happens in our lives that is inherently bad. There is always a golden nugget to be found in every situation. If a friend or family member is sick, it might seem like the end of the world to us. We feel helpless and their suffering places an extreme emotional toll on our hearts. But in this time of crisis there is an amazing flower that is allowed to grow, and that’s the blossoming of our generosity, love and compassion. Spiritual qualities often need an external trigger for them to be cultivated. And there’s nothing better than using our own difficulties in our lives as ingredients for cultivating these spiritual qualities.