Friday, August 8, 2008

Anger (3) - losing our treasure

There is no greater misfortune than to make an enemy lightly; we almost lose our treasure.
Tao Te Ching, verse 69.

How easy it is to get angry! It takes no special skill, no preparation, very little discernment. But no matter how wronged we feel, no matter how justified we feel, the very second we get angry with another person the moral advantage shifts away from us. Where once we felt like a good person, ‘collecting merit’ by our good efforts, trying to be more compassionate in all our interactions, once we have gotten angry all that seems to go out the window. We are brought shamefully low in our spirits when we think of what we said, how we said it; what we did, the way we did it. We 'almost lose our treasure'.

The Buddhist tradition is less equivocal about it: anger certainly makes us lose our treasure. In his ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’, Shantideva opens the chapter on patience in this way:

Whatever wholesome deeds,
Such as venerating the Buddhas and (practicing) generosity,
That have been amassed over a thousand eons,
Will all be destroyed in one moment of anger.

(From Healing Anger, by the Dalai Lama).

One moment of anger can do that? This anger business bears a little more looking into, don’t you think?

No comments:

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond