Chapter3-5 : It’s far better not to be stubborn and to say “I’m sorry” when it’s needed When you con
Haven’t you had the experience of quarreling with a friend, loved one, or relative with whom you didn’t really want to lose contact, and then finding yourself cut off from them?
“I’d like to get together again even now, if possible. But I can’t.”
The reason is the strong pride and stubbornness within you.
The term for such pride and stubbornness in Buddhism is gaman.
Even while realizing that you were wrong, you insist on maintaining your own position, no matter what.
The attitude is, “My way of thinking is right, so I will not apologize!”
Whenever I talk about gaman (stubborn pride) in a study-session, I think of something from my own past.
I have a brother two years younger than myself.
When I was in the third grade of primary school, he was in the first grade.
One day Mother bought each of us a stick of ice cream.
The next day, my little brother excitedly took his ice cream out of the freezer and was about to eat it there in front of me.
I stopped him. “That’s mine! I haven’t eat mine yet.”
My brother and I started to argue.
“I haven’t eaten mine either. I bet you ate yours yesterday!” he said.
We continued to argue until finally, angry, I raised my fist.
Just then, I remembered: “Oh, I did eat my ice cream yesterday . . .”
Yet I couldn’t lower my raised fist.
I pushed the memory of having already eaten my ice cream way back inside, and brought my fist down on the head of my frightened younger brother.
Then I snatched the ice cream from him, as he screamed at the top of his lungs, and devoured it.
Even today I can’t forget the “taste” of that flavorless ice cream.
People cannot honestly admit their mistakes even though they recognize them, but seek rather to defend them to the bitter end for appearance’s sake.
It is this attitude that is called gaman in Buddhism.
I think this gaman grows stronger as we grow older.
In primary school, we fought with a friend and shouted, “I don’t know you any more!”
But the next day we said “Sorry about yesterday . . . Let’s have some fun,” and made up.
But things weren’t so simple in middle school or high school.
The spirit of gaman had grown stronger, and we felt “Why should I apologize?”
If we quarrel as adults, making friends again is still harder.
Both sides think, “I’m not going to apologize unless he does first,” as the spirit of gaman grows stronger year by year.
It may be something small in the beginning, but because each side is unwilling to acknowledge its fault, so many married couples, friends, and loved ones grow further and further apart.
If we could only say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” we wouldn’t have to lose someone irreplaceable.
Our regrets over such matters seem only to increase as the years pass.
Is our stubbornness and pride so great a thing that we must preserve it even at the cost of losing people who are important to us?
In most cases, when we look back, we regret having made so much of something so little.
Our true self would like to apologize, but stubbornness and pride prevent us from saying anything.
We regret that people we don’t want to lose as friends grow distant from us, yet there seems to be nothing we can do about it. At such times let’s have the courage to try apologizing from our side.
It may indeed take courage, but that’s not too high a price to pay in comparison with our regret and emotional pain at losing someone important to us.
Begin with the outward form.
Try saying, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.”
It’s not too late.
If you approach the other person with real sincerity, he or she will respond in the same way.