Q  How does one overcome problems of external origin when they are not in our control?

A  The world in which we function is a play of dvandvas, (opposites). There is pleasure and there is pain, there is joy and there is sorrow, there is honour and there is dishonour. At the same time, we have our own desires that we want to fulfil. When the world caters to our desires, we are happy. When it doesn’t we get agitated and stressed out.

Our problems with the world arise primarily when the world does not cater to us. What we need to understand is that problems are an inherent part of the world. What is important is how we deal with the situation. We have the choice to let the world dictate terms to us, or for us to take control of our lives. There is nothing in the world that can affect us if we do not want it to. It is in these situations that our mental strength plays a big role.

The fundamental principle to understand is that the origin of the problem is within us. Whatever problems we have with the world is because of our selfishness, expectations and attachments. There is nothing outside that can affect our internal balance if we understand the way of the world. So if we face problems in the world, it is a sign for us to introspect and look within ourselves. To identify where we could have gone wrong. Maybe we had unrealistic expectations, maybe we acted selfishly without taking others into consideration or maybe we got too attached to the result and consequently lost focus on the action. The key is to look within. Understand that the world is a projection of our own thoughts. What we see is a reflection of what we have within. If we see negatives in everything, it is a clear indicator that we ourselves are negative. Similarly, if we are able to see the good in others, it is reflective of the positive mindset with which we approach our lives.

Hence the problem is not with the world. It is with us. We must constantly focus on improving ourselves, acting selflessly, purifying our emotions and refining our thoughts through Vedanta. And the problems seem to wane automatically.