Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle is a good reminder about how people who challenge us in our daily lives are the perfect "trailheads" for finding the paths we need to follow within to become more who and less defended.
People We'd Rather Avoid
It is much easier to love birds, dogs, cats, and trees than it is to love people.
Metta (lovingkindness) is to be extended towards all beings and all manifestations, yet most of our difficulties lie with people. It is much easier to love birds, dogs, cats, and trees than it is to love people. Trees and animals don't answer back, but people do, so this is where our training commences. . . . Sometimes people find they don't feel anything while practicing metta meditation. That is nothing to worry about; thoughts aimed often enough in the right direction eventually produce the feelings. All our sense contacts produce feelings. Thoughts are the sixth sense, and even if we are only thinking metta, eventually the feeling will arise. It is one means of helping us to gain this heart quality, but certainly not the only one.
In our daily activities all of us are confronted with other people and often with those whom we would rather avoid. These are our challenges, lessons and tests. If we consider them in that manner we won't be so irritated by these experiences. . . . When we realize that such a confrontation is exactly what we need at that moment in order to overcome resistance and negativity and substitute metta for those emotions, then we will be grateful for the opportunity.
~ Ayya Khema, in When the Iron Eagle Flies; from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book