I had the occasion come up last night where I realized that I had once again let myself be overtaken by wrong view, and I spent the last couple hours at work thinking about it.
A couple weeks ago, my son broke his ankle at a place where children’s birthdays and other events are held. I won’t name the place because, after thinking about it, I’ve realized how unnecessary it is for me to propogate negative views about it, suffice to say it is one of those places with the air-inflated play rigs.
I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the place, and I wasn’t there when the accident occurred so my accounts of it are second-hand via my wife. Apparently my son fell off of something and, after playing a little while longer, realized how much he was hurting and informed his mother.
As I understand it, the scene attracted the attention of the establishment’s owner. I’m led to believe he acted in a condencending way, then grabbed my son’s foot and started moving it around as if trying to diagnose the injury. My wife and son left, eventually finding that his ankle was broken. A simple accident, really, the result of childish carelessness — the kind of thing to which all seven year old children are subject, and really no big deal given today’s fairly advanced medical technology and knowledge.
I don’t think the injury itself upset me so much as the report that the owner was messing with the hurt ankle immediately afterward. This frustrated me because I made the assumption that he was not qualified, a fact which I still do not know for certain. I was pretty angry about this, and even yesterday when the subject came up again (because Dalton’s ankle still hurts) I found that I was still upset.
Ultimately, I don’t really think the owner has liability in this event because the actual accident was the result of Dalton’s behavior, not the owner’s. Children just have accidents sometimes. My anger towards the owner is simply an indicator of my own mental defilement. Last night I had the opportunity to really think about why I’m upset about it, and what being upset about it does to me.
So lets imagine for a moment that I believed the owner caused my son’s injury, what exactly am I going to do about it? Am I going to go out of my way to cause him suffering? Over an ankle? What would that say about my hatred?
There are probably dozens of examples of the Buddha’s teachings on anger and hatred, but my thoughts centered on one particularly pithy quotation that I have memorized; verse 3 and 4 of the Dhammapada:
“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.
“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.
I don’t need to harbor negative thoughts about others, and I don’t need to spread negativity by telling everyone I meet “don’t do business here or there because that guy was a jerk.”
I want to challenge you to at least think about the things that make you angry. What is that anger’s true source? How does it make you feel? What does it lead you to do? Is there anything wholesome about it?
I have found that I don’t get angry all that often anymore, and when I do, it rarely lasts for a significant length of time. In this, I credit the thinking about the causes of the emotion. If it isn’t skillful, isn’t positive, isn’t wholesome, we must strive to let go of as much of it as possible.
I hope you are all well today and at peace, my friends.