In this post, we are going to focus on another cause for falling off the Dharma path. It is good for serious practitioners to know all these because ultimately, we are responsible for our own happiness. Since we are owners of our minds, we are responsible for watching over them and preventing them from going in the wrong direction.
One of the most dangerous emotions that can burn bridges is anger. It usually starts off as a feeling of disgruntle with our situations in life. Referring back to the previous post, people experience various dissatisfactions with their life. We can feel unhappy about our career, family, romantic relationship, health, etc. When we feel unhappy about something in life and are ignorant of its causes, we try to pin the blame on some external factors.
Unfortunately, foolish Buddhists usually blame the Buddha. Why do I say foolish? This is because the following fundamentals in Buddhist teachings are already clear. If we call ourselves Buddhists, then we ought to know them well.
- Buddha is not some sort of wish-fulfilling God or genie. Buddha taught us how to attain enlightenment (Ultimate Happiness)
- Buddha taught that situations in life are caused by karma. Karma refers to our actions from the past, including our previous lives. How we respond to situations also contributes to our karma.
- Buddha taught that suffering in life is inevitable, regardless of religion, beliefs, faith, wealth or status, or fame.
In the course of our practice, we may compare ourselves with others. Consequently, we might become disheartened that we are not gaining as many benefits as other people. Thus, discontentment arises in our hearts.
However, it is important to know that our very first attempt to compare ourselves with others, is already the wrong step. Each one of us has inherent karma from our previous existences. Our karma causes our various situations in life. What we experience today is a result of our karma (past and present causes). It has nothing to do with Buddha or any divinities. Instead of comparing with others and feeling discontented, it is better for us to try our best to improve our situations with wisdom.
For example, if we are not doing well in our current job, it may be wiser to reflect if we lack any skills? If so, then it is wiser to engage our time in self-improvement. Sometimes, it might even be better to change jobs and work in a new company that appreciates us? The most foolish thing to do would be blaming Buddha or God(s)
From the above, we should know that anger arises out of ignorance.
When we are deluded with ignorance and do not have the right views or understanding about life, we usually blame others for the suffering that we experience. Anger is terrible because it makes us blind to logic and rationale. Thus we spiral downwards into an abyss of rage and suffering.
Another, cause for anger is disappointment.
One of our delusions is foolish expectations. We expect our Buddhist teachers or Dharma friends to behave according to our standards. Our standards are usually built upon whimsical definitions of what enlightenment means.
Since we are clueless about enlightenment, we imagine enlightened people to be like shining Buddha statues. Enlightened people must be well dressed, well-groomed, they don’t fart in public and they eat with certain elegance. And when they sit, they must sit like those Buddha statues!
Do you get the picture?
As for unenlightened fellow Buddhists, they must all be compassionate to a fault. They must have no greed and no anger. They must be happy all the time. Who are we kidding man? Everyone is practicing to become better, aren’t we? We are all on the same path, practicing for perfection after all. So why do we have unrealistic expectations?
When we are clueless about enlightenment and we project our wrong expectations on fellow Buddhists, we end up sorely disappointed. That disappointment can sometimes cause us to lose faith and become angry.
And when we are blinded by our anger, we may lose faith and give up the most precious thing in this life, Buddha Dharma Sangha, SO, it is wise that we check our minds from time to time. Are we angry with the Triple Gems and if so, why?
May all be well and happy.