patience and anger

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You might have noticed I’ve been reading Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva, lately. 

It’s another book that I carried around for a few years, started about a dozen times, but hadn’t made it over the hump of the first few pages until now. I’m about half way through, and it’s been one of the most inspiring books I’ve read to date.

In the chapter on patience, the use of the word “anger” outnumbers “patience” by many (If I were Richard Brautigan, I would count them for you, but sorry…). He holds nothing back in calling out the pettiness of our afflictive thoughts, and doesn’t sweeten the blow, either. It’s a bitter medicine, but an effective one if you’re willing to accept it.

Here are a few samples;

Getting what I do not want,
And all that hinders my desire-
There my mind finds fuel for misery;
Anger springs from it, oppressing me.

If those who are like wanton children
Are by nature to injure others,
What point is there in being angry-
Like resenting fire for its heat?

And if their faults are fleeting and contingent,
If living beings are by nature wholesome,
It’s likewise senseless to resent them-
As well be angry at the sky for having clouds!

This human form is like a running sore;
Merely touched, it cannot stand the pain!
I’m the one who clings to it with blind attachment;
Whom should I resent when my pain occurs?

We who are like senseless children
Shrink from suffering, but love its causes.
We hurt ourselves; our pain is self-inflicted!
Why should others be the object of our anger?

One response »

  1. “Shrink from suffering, but love its causes.”

    That’s the whole story of misery, right there. If we would only take responsibility for our suffering, we might not shrink away from it.

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