One day the Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him, hurling all kinds of rude words at him, intended to ridicule and demean him.
The Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”
The young man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”
The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”
Source: A variation of a shorter story falsely attributed to Buddha
People can and will offer us their words, opinions and points of view. None of that can hurt us unless we let it first land in our heart and mind.
- Holding on the anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. (exact source unknown)
- Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned. (exact source unknown)
Once upon a time there were three men. Each man had two sacks, one tied in front of his neck and the other tied on his back. When the first man was asked what was in his sacks, he said, “In the sack on my back are all the good things friends and family have done. That way they’re hidden from view. In the front sack are all the bad things that have happened to me. Every now and then I stop, open the front sack, take the things out, examine them, and think about them.” Because he stopped so much to concentrate on all the bad stuff, he really didn’t make much progress in life.
The second man was asked about his sacks. He replied, “In the front sack are all the good things I’ve done. I like to see them, so quite often I take them out to show them off to people. The sack in the back? I keep all my mistakes in there and carry them all the time. Sure they’re heavy. They slow me down, but you know, for some reason I can’t put them down.”
When the third man was asked about his sacks, he answered, “The sack in front is great. There I keep all the positive thoughts I have about people, all the blessings I’ve experienced, all the great things other people have done for me. The weight isn’t a problem. The sack is like sails of a ship. It keeps me going forward.
“The sack on my back is empty. There’s nothing in it. I cut a big hole in its bottom. In there I put all the bad things that I can think about myself or hear about others. They go in one end and out the other, so I’m not carrying around any extra weight at all.”
Source | H. Norman Wright, The Perfect Catch
(Bethany House, 2000) pages 28-29
PONDER AND CONSIDER
What are you carrying in your sacks as you journey through life?
Reread the story about the three men and their sacks. With whom do you identify the most?
- The one who forgets what is good in his life and remembers all the bad things that have happened to him?
- The one who has the tendency to remind others about the good he has been doing, while hiding the mistakes he has made, not really letting those mistakes go?
- The one who remembers all the blessings, while acknowledging and letting go of negativity and judgment toward self and others?