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It's “Good People” Who Get Angry; When Everyone Is in the Wrong, There Are No Quarrels



Shakyamuni Buddha, who taught Buddhism, teaches “Six Paramitas.” They are six good deeds which bring us happiness. This time we will learn about the third one, “forbearance” (patience).

“Forbearance” (patience) is to hold back anger. Shakyamuni Buddha recommends this because we easily get angry. Daily newspapers and TV shows often report incidents where people have killed or injured others in a fit of anger. If criminals are asked why they committed their crime, they often answer, “I was driven by rage.” Sometimes we see anger-driven exchanges between countries. The verbal warfare between the leaders of the US and North Korea has heated up and the situation is explosive. People all around the world are nervously watching the situation, knowing that a moment's anger may lead to a major war. Shakyamuni Buddha warned, "A person of wisdom is free of anger. It is truly foolish to respond to anger with anger." We may understand logically that if we get angry, we will feel bad and become exhausted physically and mentally— yet we can’t help getting angry anyway. Why is this? When someone insults us or hurts our feelings, we frantically try to protect our pride. We can’t help but become defensive because we are each convinced that "I'm right, he's wrong!" There is a story.

A family that was always fighting with each other lived side by side with a family that was as peaceful as could be. A, the head of the quarrelsome family, wondered why everyone next door got along so well. Finally one day he called on B and begged to know the secret behind their calm household. B replied, "There's no secret in particular. It's probably because everyone in your family is always in the right. Over here, all of us are always in the wrong, so there's no quarreling. That's all there's to it."

Certain that he was being ridiculed, A was about to explode in anger when a loud crash sounded from inside the house. It sounded as if a piece of crockery had fallen to the floor. The voice of a young woman said remorsefully, “Mother, I’m so sorry. All because I didn’t look where I was going, I went and broke that dish that meant so much to you. It’s my fault. Please forgive me.”

“No, no,” said the voice of her mother-in-law. “It’s not your fault at all. I kept meaning to put the dish away, and never got around to it. I never should have left it there in the first place. I’m the one who has to apologize.” A was impressed and satisfied. “Now I see,” he said, “Everyone in this house is always in the wrong, and says so. That’s why there’s no quarreling.”

*This story appears in Ch 62 (pg 168) of Something You Forgot... Along the Way.

Whenever we conceitedly believe that we have nothing to improve on, we get angry with someone who points out our mistakes or flaws. The cause of anger is the wrong idea that "I am always right." We should thank others for pointing out our faults. All we have to do is to improve on the things that others have pointed out and make progress. We don’t have to get depressed, thinking, “I’m totally worth nothing.” Sometimes people do give criticisms that are off the mark, and we should let these pass. However, if we think they have a point, it is important to accept it thankfully as good advice for improving ourselves.

Six Paramitas:

Giving (Kindness)

Discipline (Keeping promises)

Forbearance (Patience)

Diligence (Effort)

Contemplation (Self-reflection)

Wisdom (Self-cultivation)

In B's family, everyone is always in the wrong. Since they apologize to each other no matter what happens, they never quarrel.

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The Buddha’s wisdom is the light which brightens our life. If we practice the teachings, our daily life will dramatically change.

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