THE CONTAINER AND THE CONTENT

A local journalist called and asked me “ What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist Holy Book and flushed it down the toilet?”
Without hesitation I answered “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist Holy Book and flushed it down the toilet, the first thing I would do is call a plumber!”
When the journalist finished laughing, he confided in me that that was the most sensible answer he had heard.
Source | Ajahn Brahm, Good? Bad? Who Knows?
CONSIDER THIS
You may flush a Holy Book down a toilet, but you will never flush forgiveness, peace and compassion – traits and characteristics that healthy religions, faith traditions and philosophies of life are made of – down a toilet.
Remember that the book is never the religion, nor is the statue, the building or the priest. These are only “containers.”
What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent? What qualities are the priests supposed to embody? This is the “content”.
When we recognize the difference between the container and the contents, then we will preserve the contents even when the container is being destroyed.
We can print more books, build more temples and statues and even train more monks and nuns, but when we lose our love and respect for others and ourselves and replace it with violence, then the whole religion has gone down the toilet.

WITHOUT BATTING AN EYE

Once there was a general who was infamous for his viciousness.  He was brutal, without mercy.  He went to attack a very small village that lay in the path of his army.  Everyone in the village, knowing of the general’s reputation, ran away – everyone except one man  When the general entered the village, he found this one man sitting calmly under a tree.  So the general went to the man and said, “Do you know who I am, and do you know what I am capable of?  I can run my sword right through you without batting an eye!”  And the man said, “I know.”  Looking at the general, he continued, “But do you know who I am and what I am capable of?  I’ll let you do it … without batting an eye.”

Source | Paul Coutinho SJ, How Big is Your God
Loyola Press (November 1, 2010) page 31

PONDER AND CONSIDER

This is the difference between practicing religion and developing a living relationship with the Divine. How do we respond when we are attacked?  If our response is still an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth we’re not much better than the general.

But if our response is one of peace and reconciliation, then we offer a better alternative, and that response  can be disarming and a catalyst for change.

How?  If you want to change start by changing a thought, just one thought:  everything begins with a thought.  Change your thinking and you will be a changed person.  The thought will be expressed in your words, will affect your feelings, and will guide your behaviour.  And the words, feelings, and behaviours you send out into the world will affect and slowly transform the world around you.

  • Can you change just one thought?
  • Can you know who you are in your mind, in your consciousness, enough to think peace, act in peace, be peace … without batting an eye?

NON-VIOLENCE

A snake in the village had bitten so many people that few dared go into the fields.  Such was the Master’s holiness that he was said to have tamed the snake and persuaded it to practice the discipline of nonviolence.

It did not take long for the villager to discover that the snake had become harmless.  They took to hurling stones at it and dragging it about by its tail.

The badly battered snake crawled into the Master’s house one night to complain. Said the Master, “Friend, you have stopped frightening people,  that’s bad!”

“But it was you who taught me to practice the discipline of nonviolence!”

“I told you to stop hurting, not to stop hissing!”

Source | Anthony de Mello, SJ, One Minute Wisdom
(Image Books, 1988) page 45

PONDER AND CONSIDER

ALL ALONE OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL

Once upon a time there was a man who was against war.  He got many people excited about his mission and built a large organization to speak out against the war.  Eventually people got tired and gave up on him and the mission.  He ended up standing outside the capital with an anti-war poster all alone.

One day, a passerby, noticing the lone protestor,  walked up to him and asked him in a chiding voice: “Do you really think you’re going to change the world?”

The man replied: “No, but I hope by showing up, the world will not change me.” 

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Is it always good not to let the world change one or is it perhaps sometimes more courageous and even essential that we be changed by the world?