Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/08/2015

Knowing How to Forbear

251. Asurinda of the Bharadvaja Brahmin clan heard that the leader of the clan had gone forth into the Sangha of the recluse Gotama. Angry and displeased, he went to where the Lord was and reviled and abused him with rude, harsh words. When he had spoken, the Lord remained silent, and Asurinda said: “You are defeated, recluse, you are defeated!” The Lord replied:

The fool thinks he has won a battle
When he bullies with harsh speech,
But knowing how to be forbearing –
That makes one victorious.

The worse of the two
Is he who, when abused, retaliates.
One who does not retaliate
Wins a battle hard to win.

Knowing that the other person is angry,
One who remains mindful and calm
Acts for his own best interest
And for the other’s interest, too.

He is a healer of both himself
And the other person also.
He is thought a fool only by those
Who do not understand the Dhamma.

Samyutta Nikaya I.163

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For many of us, this story is well enough known that we figure we have already digested its meaning and are likely simply to nod in assent workout giving it further thought. But, imagine being in the same situation for a moment: your spouse or partner is arguing with you and it has become pretty dirty. You know enough to try to keep silent but then they take your silence as an admission of guilt or defeat. Would you be able to remain steadfast in silence, only pointing out their erroneous conclusion when the mind had settled?

Even reading these verses i feel my heart racing and wish that the Lord Buddha would have put the fool in his place but this would require the fool to acknowledge his ignorance-something which is beyond the ken of someone engulfed in the flames of hatred. Mai we never forget the Teachings of the Blessed One and may we do our best to practice khanti parami in the face of hardships.


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