Eknath Easwaran is my chosen gateway teacher to find a way to be comfortable in and with Hinduism – although in truth he was an inter-spiritual teacher before the terms was coined (by Bro. Wayne Teasdale).
Drawing on teachings from the Buddha, Easwaran offers practical suggestions for overcoming anger and developing compassion and a calm mind.
The Buddha was going one morning on his alms tour. His son Rahula, who had become his disciple, accompanied him. As Rahula was asking one or two questions, very searching questions, very practical questions, the Buddha was very pleased with him. So he gives Rahula three little secrets, as to how to enrich his sadhana [spiritual practice], how to get closer and closer to him.
One is, he says, develop compassion and anger will become less and less. People who get angry, get very easily resentful, or even hostile, can reduce their anger, can guard against their proneness to anger, by developing one of the great qualities mentioned by the Buddha, karuna [compassion].
When you see an angry person, who sometimes uses unkind words, refuses to cooperate with you, one way of becoming compassionate is to look upon that person as not having learned to walk, perhaps just a little bit lame. When we are walking with a lame person, we don’t get angry if the lame person is not able to keep pace with us, we slow down, just as when we are walking with children, we shorten our paces, we stop for them, we keep pace with them. And in working with angry people, in helping angry people, it’s very important to remember this, that not all their anger is intentional, not all their anger is directed at you. A good part of it is because they can’t control it.
And even when I was practicing, even when I was half way through my sadhana, when I was in the thick of my campus, in the midst of very unexpected developments at a big campus, when somebody was angry, I would see behind that person a long series of events, series of incidents, series of people, series of situations to make that person angry. So the Buddha is giving this marvelous advice to his son Rahula: look upon angry people as a little disabled.
When you see somebody a little disabled you give your hand, you slow down your pace, you support that person, but help that person to help himself, help herself, to become kind, to become compassionate through your personal example.
So Rahula is thrilled, he walks closer and closer to the Buddha. And, “Give me another secret,” he says. And the Buddha says develop the joy of service, the joy of loving service, and you will get over a great deal of self-will, a great deal of attachment to personal profit and personal pleasure.
T he Buddha now gives the third secret to Rahula: develop serenity and you will go beyond likes and dislikes. It is people who always are brooding over their likes and dislikes in everything, everywhere, whose minds are constantly agitated.
I would like to repeat these three secrets of the Buddha given to his son Rahula.
Develop compassion, anger will be turned into compassion.
Develop the joy of service, and you will reduce self-will to the bare minimum.
Develop calmness of mind, serenity, and you will free yourself from the tyranny of likes and dislikes.