Do you ever wonder why very “evolved” people are rarely annoyed or frustrated by others? Its amazing to behold. They seem to get along with just about everyone in almost every situation with grace and humor. The Dalai Lama is a good example of that.
I think this might be because things only disturb us when they are unwanted. Sweating profusely during a workout is not generally bothersome, but when giving a public talk, it feels like torture. When someone you find appealing flirts with you, you are likely to feel flattered, but when someone you find unappealing does the same, you are likely to feel annoyed. Our preferences, likes and dislikes lead to feelings of aversion.
…if you subdue your anger you will not have a single enemy, and it will be the same as subduing all your enemies – Pabonka Rinpoche, Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand
Through practice we get better at being with difficulty. We face aversion, which allows us to get to know it – to see it more clearly. Early on, we may become more attuned to people who bother us as we develop greater awareness of our own unpleasant internal experiences. Over time, we become wise to our preferences, attachments and aversions, seeing them for what they really are – expectations, interpretations, stories, and beliefs. We may even begin to welcome difficulty in as an opportunity for greater learning.
Eventually we see less and less as unwelcome. The bothersome people may appear to be dwindling away, slowly replaced by interesting people and suffering people, inseparable from ourselves. We discover that others just don’t seem to get under our skin like they used to.
…when you really want to meet obnoxious people, they don’t show up! Why don’t they turn up for high-level bodhisattvas (ones who work for the benefit of all beings)? Because high-level bodhisattvas don’t have any anger… Bodhisattvas have such a hard time finding detestable people, whereas we come across them so easily! – Thubten Chodron
So, how dow we develop this imperturbability? Through practice of course. It starts with turning inward and paying attention to what is happening there. Little by little, we dare to trust and feel compassion for ourselves, warts and all, which translates to greater compassion for others. We take ourselves less seriously. This allows us to let go of some of our excessive privacy, self-consciousness, and guardedness. We open to a wider variety of people and allow situations to be as they are, realizing everything is workable. When we are asked for help, we are more likely to give it (if we truly can), being less afraid of being taken advantage of, harmed, or depleted in some way. There is no longer any good or evil, just people like us whose deepest desire is happiness.