“One moment of anger can destroy years of patience.”

The monk, Matthieu Ricard, writes in “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill”:

“In the 1980s, I had just acquired my first laptop computer, which I used to translate Tibetan texts. One morning as I was working, sitting on the wooden floor in a monastery at the far end of Bhutan, a friend thought it would make a cute joke to spill a handful of tsampa (roast barley flour) on my keyboard as he passed by. I saw red and shot him a filthy look, saying, “Was that supposed to be funny?” Seeing that I was truly angry, he stopped and tersely replied, “One moment of anger can destroy years of patience.” His gesture hadn’t been especially clever, but he was essentially right.

Another time, in Nepal, a person who had swindled the monastery of a large sum of money came by to lecture me on morality. Again my blood boiled. My voice trembling with anger, I told her to get lost, and helped her out the door with a nudge. At the time, I was convinced that my anger was perfectly justified. It was only hours later that I came to see how destructive an emotion anger really is, reducing our clarity and inner peace and turning us into veritable puppets.”

In Volume 1 of the “Mahabharata” (translated by Bibek Debroy), we read Shukra advising his daughter:

“The learned regard as a true charioteer he who reins in his anger like horses….O Devayani! Know that he who restrains his rising anger through feelings of non-anger conquers everything. A man who restrains his anger through forgiveness is compared to a snake that casts off its old skin….Between two men, one who performs sacrifices continuously every month for a hundred years and one who does not feel anger, the one without anger is the superior one.”

Peace 😊

“we gain nothing by cursing the people we dislike”

In an October 2020 conversation with KCRW, a broadcasting service of Santa Monica College, Pico Iyer observes that “we gain nothing by cursing the people we dislike” and “exchanging resentments.”

Indeed, as Pravrajika Vrajaprana, a nun of the Ramakrishna Order, points out (in the same conversation), by doing this “we are simply making ourselves more unhappy” because “when we hate, when we get angry….the person who we’re directing that to, doesn’t really experience it the way we do.” Pravrajika Vrajaprana also points out that our anger and consequent unhappiness “becomes a self perpetuating cycle. And then other people, they’re affected by it….emotions are actually as contagious as the flu.”

In “The Art of Philosophizing: and Other Essays”, Bertrand Russell makes the intriguing statement that “It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go.”

Marshall Rosenberg explains, in “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” that “what other people do is never the cause of how we feel. The cause of anger lies in our thinking — in thoughts of blame and judgment.”

Peace 😊

“….the right to criticise….”

The Lebanese-French writer, Amin Maaloouf writes about criticising in “In The Name of Identity”, a book that he tells us is about his quest “to understand why so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national or some other kind of identity”.

Amin writes that “the right to criticise someone else has to be won, deserved” by showing that person “friendship, sympathy and consideration, not merely superficially but in a manner that is sincere and felt to be so….” And when we have this relationship, Amin goes on, you “may allow yourself to criticise, with some hope of being heard, things about him that you regard as open to objection.”

The philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett offers a set of steps (that he credits Anatol Rapaport for), in “Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking”, to help us steer away from “uncharitable interpretations” of others, and deserve the right to criticise.

“”How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.”

Bob Dylan sings, in his 1964 release “The Times They Are A-Changin’”:

“….don’t criticize
What you can’t understand….”

Peace 😊