Q: My colleagues and I recently worked on a project where the client was very demanding and sometimes even unreasonable, making us work long hours and sometimes blaming us for mistakes even though it wasn’t our fault.
So, at first we became angry, talked badly about him and were very confrontational, but it created a very negative atmosphere. So we tried to talk and understand why he made certain demands and also tried to help him understand us.
But in my heart I still had a very uneasy feeling about work and felt I didn’t like him. So I want to know whether through our spiritual practice we can treat people with love even though we’re treated badly by them.
M: I understand. It’s just your brain that reacted to that special circumstance. It’s not that your heart didn’t love him. Your heart is different than your brain. You use your brain a lot so when you deal with people you also use the brain. The brain says, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” but the heart is different. You do have love; it’s just that you use the brain. Try to use your heart the next time.
He also has his problems, which you don’t understand. His wife may be divorcing him or having an affair with someone else and he comes and takes it out on you. You’re working like mad there, and then here he comes and doesn’t know anything about your labor, about your concentration, about your efforts. He’s just pouring everything on you because he’s also stuffed. He’s depressed and he also may have pressure from his higher boss or maybe his wife or children. The world always puts pressure on everyone and in turn we pressure each other, and that’s the problem.
So maybe in meditation, you can try to send love to him. Tell him, “I wish you all the best and that you’ll become more enlightened soon so that you don’t have to endure all this frustration and anger.” And then meditate and try to understand that he also has problems.
My neighbors also give me problems for nothing all the time. Actually, when I live alone, I don’t have any problems with neighbors or anyone. But sometimes I need to have other disciples around to help me with work because I can’t always do everything by myself. If I’m not working for you guys or for the whole world, I don’t need anyone. But because I’m working, I sometimes need physical help. And then, because of their karma interacting with the neighbor’s karma we have conflicts, sometimes over very small things.
But I always try to understand the neighbor’s point of view and also understand that it’s not his fault. It’s the fault of my attendants or workers or helpers, whoever comes to work in my house. Sometimes they attract this kind of karma to themselves and because it’s my house, my place, I’m in the middle of it. So I never blame the other party. I see into the root of the problem and even tell some of my assistants, “Look, it’s your fault. It’s your combative karma that attracts his combative karma or this kind of reaction from the neighbor. So don’t get angry with him or feel angry inside because from that you create more karma for yourself. And in turn, like a cycle, you’ll attract more of this combative kind of energy and we’ll never be finished with it.”
It’s not just physical. It’s not just mental. It’s not just a verbal argument. It’s the karmic root from somewhere that we sometimes don’t have the ability to see through. And also of course, physically speaking or simply logically speaking, he himself, the boss or whoever, is also human. He has his own problems and sometimes he’s in a bad mood so whatever’s nearby, he just throws at it.
So forgive him and maybe don’t argue with him. Just keep quiet; pray and recite the Holy Names instead. Sometimes he just lets out his air and then later he feels foolish. Because if you don’t answer and don’t react maybe he’ll feel bad and come and apologize.
Try to change your perspective. That adds to the pressure of work for sure. Try to change your perspective of thinking instead of changing the job or changing the person. Try. But you never know: Sometimes we have better karma with someone and sometimes we don’t. We just have to try until it fits.