Posted by: Upāsaka | 09/19/2018

Going Forward

It seems to me that fighting fire with fire just ends up burning the whole house down and certainly doesn’t accord with my own understanding of the Dhamma (as limited as that is). When I think about how the Lord Buddha handled insults (see this sutta: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn07/sn07.002.than.html) I realize that I simply don’t have to accept them. The problem lies in the fact that, when my wife insults me I believe her.

If it’s the case that I believe her then surely that calls for reflection and introspection. One of the common criticisms I hear is that I’m not acting very Buddhist by being uncaring, unkind or downright mean. This seems to strike a chord in me (and she clearly knows this) as I often fear that I am not handling a situation skillfully. So, what to do?

It seems to me that I first need to remove the barb of pride and admit to my real and imagined failings. Yes, I may not be handling this situation as well as is possible and I apologize for any hurt I have caused. But, I am doing the best I can in the moment. In short, acknowledge, apologize and advance.

What about the myriad cases where I feel I’ve done nothing wrong despite wracking my brains and checking my conscience? The excerpt from the sutta linked above will be my standard in all other cases:

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him: “What do you think, brahman: Do friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to you as guests?”

“Yes, Master Gotama, sometimes friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to me as guests.”

“And what do you think: Do you serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies?”

“Yes, sometimes I serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies.”

“And if they don’t accept them, to whom do those foods belong?”

“If they don’t accept them, Master Gotama, those foods are all mine.”

“In the same way, brahman, that with which you have insulted me, who is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating: that I don’t accept from you. It’s all yours, brahman. It’s all yours.

“Whoever returns insult to one who is insulting, returns taunts to one who is taunting, returns a berating to one who is berating, is said to be eating together, sharing company, with that person. But I am neither eating together nor sharing your company, brahman. It’s all yours. It’s all yours.”


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