There are various ways to deal with literally any situation in life. Of course it depends on the person’s subtle understandings of the difference between the real nature of things, beings and our environment and the way it appears to a finite mind through the sense organs. Secondly, it also depends upon the person’s contemplative life. We will discuss two or three methods here.
Ordinarily, our behavior towards others is dictated by our likes and dislikes. What we like or dislike in others will determine how our behavior would be towards a person, depending on what aspect of the person’s character is on display at that particular moment. This cannot be called as action but rather a reaction. We usually don’t act but react. All life-long we mostly keep reacting instead of acting and it creates a lot of disharmony. We are like thermometer. The mercury in the thermometer keeps on jumping up and down depending on the temperature of the environment. It is very tiring, but we have been doing it for lives together.
So what is the solution? Be a thermostat!! Whatever temperature is set by the thermostat, the environment becomes accordingly. That is how great Masters live. They don’t react. Their actions are spontaneous. They never attempt to change the world or change anyone. They changed and perfected themselves, which became the norm and this acted like a thermostat. The world took that as the yardstick and tried to implement it in their own lives.
Another mark of enlightenment is that the enlightened are fearless, unaffected by praises and criticisms and are least bothered about what the world thinks about them.
How is their mind immuned by the happenings around them? — by converting the milk-mind into butter-mind. Ordinarily our minds are like milk and the world is like water. When the milk-mind enters the water-world what will happen? The water-world will occupy the mind and disturb it. The water-world will overwhelm the milk-mind. If we want to prevent the water world from entering the milk-mind, then the only way is to convert the milk-mind into butter-mind. Put a little curd of viveka (an intellectual ability capable of discriminating between the Real and the unreal; Eternal and the ephemeral; permanent and the impermanent, etc.) in the milk-mind and curdle it. Then churn out the butter from the curds. When the butter-mind goes into the water world it will float without a drop of water world entering it.
There are various ways of converting milk-mind into butter-mind.
Through observation we will realize that only those things and beings trouble us, disturb us or cause distress to us to which we have attached any kind of value. That to which we have given zero value doesn’t affect us in the least. With rational analysis we will come to this conclusion that the entire creation, the way it is perceived through the medium of finite mind and the sense organs, is unreal. Moreover, everything in this entire existence is impermanent and subject to modification, deterioration and destruction. So, if we are attached to any thing or being of this ephemeral existence, we are bound to get distressed and disturbed when it changes, decays or gets destroyed. Having come to that understanding we will attach zero value to the whole of creation. Then it will not affect us mentally.
Of course, the physical world that we live in, will no doubt affect us physically, like when it is hot we will feel the heat and when it is winter we will feel the cold, etc. Irrespective of what happens at the physical level we will never be mentally miserable or disturbed. Miseries come in the lives of ordinary people as well as great Masters, saints, sages and avatara-s (divine incarnation). Whether it is Lord Ramchandra-ji, Lord Krshna, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Nisargadutta Maharaj — all had miseries in their lives. Yet there is one big difference. When miseries come in our lives we become miserable, but when it comes in the lives of great saints and sages they don’t become miserable. The reason is that they have given zero value to the entire creation. So mentally it doesn’t disturb them.
Thoughts and feelings in the intellect and the mind also disturb us. That is because we identify with those thoughts and feelings and get carried away by them. Instead, if we merely witness the contents of the mind and the intellect without identifying with them, they will not disturb us.
For spiritual seekers and those leading a contemplative life there is another method. Whenever a disturbing thought arises due to whatever situation, behavior or any opinion, one should ask oneself “To whom has this thought arisen?” Obviously the answer will be “To me”. Then one should ask oneself “Who am I?” We should go into deep analyses into “who am I”. Not what “I think I am”, but “who am I in reality“, beyond all the conditionings of the body, mind and intellect. When one constantly goes into this analysis one will be able to transcend the disturbing thoughts.