Posted by: Michael Rickicki | 11/13/2017

Be a Cracked Gong

It’s the same way with the mind: You make it zero and then you put the zeros
first. Then when you deal with other people, what they say doesn’t count. It’s
interesting that Ajaan Lee focuses on what other people say as one of the tests for
a mind that’s really at peace. The Buddha makes a similar point in one of the
Dhammapada verses. “If, when other people say harsh things to you and you
don’t reverberate—like a cracked gong—that’s a sign that you’ve attained true
peace of mind.” This might seem strange. Why does the test lie in how you react
to what other people say?
The mind is very sensitive to this issue. We learn very early in our lives that
our happiness is going to depend on how other people treat us. As children,
we’re surrounded by people a lot more powerful than we are, so there’s always a
sense of fear built into our relationships to the people around us. We become
sensitive to other people’s moods, sensitive to what they might do, what they
might say. As a result, our center of gravity is placed outside because we’re
afraid of them, and we try to put up a wall outside ourselves to protect ourselves
from them.
What this means is that our psychic center of gravity gets moved outside the
body. If you’ve ever taken any martial arts classes, you know that if your center
of gravity is outside your body you’re in bad shape. You’re in a weak position.
Now the Buddha doesn’t say to ignore other people and just be very selfish.
He says there’s a different way to approach the whole issue of happiness. In
other words, you find a source for happiness that doesn’t take anything away
from anyone else, so you don’t have to be afraid of other people. When you’re
not afraid of them, you find that you can actually be more compassionate to
them. So developing and maintaining this center inside is not a selfish thing. The
Buddha’s not teaching you to be insensitive. He’s just saying to put yourself in a
stronger position and to trust that you’re stronger by not trying to go outside and
fix up people’s moods and all the other things that we think we can do with
other people when we’re dealing with them. Just stay inside and have a sense of
confidence that you’re strong inside. After all, your source of happiness lies
inside. Because it’s not taking anything away from anybody else, you don’t have
to be afraid of them.

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Shillelagh Studies

A hub for the music, culture, knowledge, and practice of Irish stick-fighting, past and present.