Question: In a world where people seem to become more and more rude to each other every day, how does one act or react to people who are so offensive?
Answer: One of the important aspects of spiritual work is beginning to employ its principles in our everyday lives. What does this mean? Any condition we meet that is unwanted, such as a rude person, is not the cause of our stress. All conditions simply offer a momentary mirror for us in which it is possible to begin seeing what we have brought with us, within ourselves, into that moment. There is no sense in trying to change people without first changing the part of ourselves that believes our very sense of self, of well-being, somehow depends upon how others treat us. Step back from your own reactions. Don't give them your life, and you'll discover they have a life of their own... and that you want nothing to do with it.
Question: Being around other people seems to put me into some kind of negative trance. I become an uptight collection of ego, shame, anger, and fear that forgets everything I have learned. What can I do that might help?
Answer: Your comment shows you are beginning to come awake to yourself. Stay in the middle of the battle. It is never the people we are around that cause us negative reactions. These reactions arise out of what we secretly want from people. As your inner conflict becomes increasingly conscious to you, you will have to choose whether or not to continue being "you" or to give yourself up in order to learn the lessons in these relationships -- inner and outer -- that await you.
Question: When I manage to remember my higher aim in life, I seem to lose control of my life, and other people are quick to take advantage of what they evidently see as my weakness. Should this be happening or am I going about something all wrong?
Answer: This may sound strange at first, but let anyone who wants to take advantage of your wish to awaken take whatever they will. This doesn't mean to turn your money or property, etc. over to sharks. But it does mean not to be afraid of letting everyone in the world see what you think they think is your weakness. The issue has nothing to do with others, but with your perception of yourself. Dare to be no one. Only when you realize that you already are no one (and yet more than you know) will the fear of others taking advantage of you disappear. After all, what can anyone else take from you? God has seen to it that everyone of us, everywhere, receives the reward of our own nature, moment to moment. What this means is that anyone who wishes to harm you has first harmed themselves. And believe me, you can't make it any tougher on this person than they have already made it on themselves.
Question: Without reverting to their lower level, how do you get people to stop making their hurtful, cut-down remarks?
Answer: One of the reasons people pounce on or attack us the way they do, is that they are feeding off of us in many different ways, especially when we return a negative energy. For an amazing experience, try sometime consciously refusing your own negativity in the face of someone else's. Just go silent, and then watch what happens to the person who attacked you. The odds are, you will watch this person have a change of heart right in the middle of their attack. And even if they don't change their behavior, your new behavior will leave you feeling better about yourself.
Question: It is difficult to accept correction from other people. How do we judge the quality of correction when someone offers advice or criticism? I look at the unhappy lives of many of the people giving input, and think that their advice isn't worth much if they have such difficulties. On the other hand, I might be missing some valuable correction. Any advice?
Answer: Do you remember the old expression "If the shoe fits, wear it"? Well, in our spiritual work, any reaction we have to a correction proves that our shoes not only fit, but they are laced too tight. We can use everything that is thrown at us (right or wrong) to walk away from what is wrong within ourselves. This path naturally turns every so-called "wrong" into a Right.