There is a Buddhist story of a young farmer who was drenched in sweat as he furiously paddled his boat upstream. He was in a great hurry and going to deliver his produce to the village. It was an unusually hot day and he wanted to make his delivery and get home before sunset.
As he looked ahead, he saw another vessel, heading rapidly downstream towards his boat. This vessel seemed to be making every effort to hit him. He rowed furiously to get out of the way, but it didn’t seem to help. He yelled at the other vessel, “Change direction, you idiot! You are going to hit me. The river is wide. Be careful!” His screaming was to no avail. The other vessel hit his boat with a cracking thud.
He was enraged as he stood up and screamed out to the other vessel, “You idiot! How could you manage to hit my boat in the middle of this wide river? What is wrong with you?” As he looked at the other vessel, he realized that there was no one in the other boat. He was screaming at an empty vessel that had broken free of its moorings and was going downstream with the current.
The lesson is simple. There is never anyone in the other boat. When we are angry, we are screaming at an empty vessel. All of us have people in our lives who drive us crazy, whom we hate with a passion. We may have spent countless hours reliving the moments when this person was unfair, unappreciative, or inconsiderate to us. Even remembering this person pumps up our blood pressure.
A Buddha would say that the person making us so angry cannot help who he is. Getting mad at him for being who he is, makes as much sense as getting mad at our table for being a table. More often than not, we might as well be him because we are really angry at ourselves.
It’s obvious that the best course of action for dealing with people like this is to not let them make us angry. Getting angry doesn’t improve the situation and life’s too short to waste on feeling bad.
The next time you start to speak out of anger, look in the mirror. In every case, you’ll find that the root of your rage is not “out there” but “in here.
If you suffer from ‘Anger issues and outbursts’ – Dialogic Bibliotherapy could help. INTERESTED? 👇🏼