Why Do Obstacles Arise?
Obstacles are negative or adverse conditions that we experience, which hinders us in achieving our goals smoothly. For example, obstacles could be physical illness or mental depression, or never-ending problems at work and other various external setbacks in whatever we are trying to do. Obstacles arise due to, (1) from previous karmas in past lives, or (2) from present, suddenly-arising conditions.
PAST LIVES KARMA
Obstacles arise due to the ripening of bad karma which we have committed in our past lives. As the nature of karma is such that it expands and grow – bad karma which has resulted from bad action (from body, speech, or mind) needs to be purified. Otherwise, karma accumulates and grows, eventually it ripens into obstacles and adverse conditions to hinder us from achieving happiness and success in the future.
SUDDEN ARISING CONDITIONS
The other cause of obstacles is “sudden-arising conditions”. One type of sudden condition is a karmic debt, a situation whereby because of a negative karmic connection you made with that being [in a previous life], hence this karmic debt will be imposed onto you in this life. For example, you have a connection with a being whom in previous lives you have beaten up, killed, or stolen from and so on.
HOW CAN WE REDUCE OBSTACLES OR PACIFY ADVERSE CONDITIONS?
Traditionally, we recognize that once karma arises and ripens, it is very difficult to change. Nevertheless, if you supplicate the buddhas and bodhisattvas, make offerings, gather merit accumulations and so on, you can purify your karma.
Purifying your karma also purifies some of your kleshas (afflictions) at the same time. With the application of appropriate remedies, especially with the blessing of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas – one can alter one’s karma and reduce the power of one’s kleshas, thereby reducing or eliminating one’s obstacles and adverse conditions.
Traditional methods to purify bad karma are: Reciting mantras, or performing/participating in pujas of purification deities such as 35 Confessional Buddhas and Vajrasattva. Making prostrations to the Buddhas, circumambulation around holy objects such as stupas etc.