“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 ocean of selflessness….”

Marie Louise Burke, in her diary entries (“A Disciple’s Journal: In the company of Swami Ashokananda”), gifts us a view of her struggles, and her relationship with her Teacher, Swami Ashokananda (a monk of the Ramakrishna Order). It is remarkable, among other things, for the reason that there is clearly no whitewashing 😊

Introducing the entries for 1956, she writes that “when I came to know Swami Ashokananda”, she saw “the ocean of selflessness for the first time.”

“My only thought was “Oh! That’s it.”….He was not merely unselfish — there was just no self, no ego to affirm or to efface. Out of that emptiness….came a strength and a wisdom without shadows or doubts.”

Writing about Jesus Christ in “The World’s Religions”, the scholar Huston Smith points out that “it seemed to those who knew him best that here was a man in whom the human ego had disappeared…..” It was this, “what he was”, Huston writes, that “edged his disciples toward the conclusion that he was divine”.

Abigail Marsh, psychologist and neuroscientist at Georgetown University, whose life-direction changed when a stranger (whose identify she still does know) saved her life after a potentially fatal road accident when she was nineteen, tells us in a TED Talk that she has devoted her work “to understanding the human capacity to care for others.”

She says that she has asked many altruistic people about what it is that makes them special, that makes them different from most. 

“And what do they say? 

They say, “Nothing. There’s nothing special about me. I’m just the same as everybody else.”

And I think that’s actually a really telling answer….They have no center. These altruists literally don’t think of themselves as being at the center of anything, as being better or more inherently important than anybody else.” 

Peace 😊