It is tempting to systematically pass the blame onto the world and other people. When we feel anxious, depressed, cranky, envious, or emotionally exhausted we are quick to pass the buck to the outside world; tensions with colleagues at work, arguments with our spouse – anything, even the colour of the sky can be a source of upset. This reflects far more than a mere psychological evasion. It reflects the mistaken perception that causes us to attribute inherent qualities to external objects when intact those qualities are dependent on our own minds. Systematically blaming others and holding them responsible for our suffering is the surest way to lead an unhappy life. It is by transforming our minds that we can transform our world.
We should not underestimate the consequences of our acts, words, and thoughts. If we sow the seeds of poisonous plants along with those of flowers, we should not be surprised when the harvest is mixed. If we alternate between selfless and harmful behaviour, we ought to expect to get a sharply contrasting blends of joy and sufferings.
It is easier to work with the disturbing effects of a strong emotion when we are in the midst of experiencing it, rather than when it lies dormant in the shadow of our unconscious at the precise moment of the experience, we will have an invaluable opportunity to investigate the process of mental sufferings.
To cite a personal example, I am not by nature an angry person, but over the course of the past twenty years, the times that I have lost my temper have taught me more about the nature of that destructive emotion than years of tranquility. As the saying goes, ” A single dog barking makes more noise than the hundred silent dogs.”
In the 1980, I had just acquired my first laptop computer, which I used to translate tibetan text. 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 cure joke to spill a handful Tsampa ( roast barley flour) on my key board as he passed by. I saw red and shot him filthy look saying, ” Was that suppose 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 that 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.
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