فصل 7کتاب: خرد تسلط بر خشم / فصل 8
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Begin with Yourself
Without communication, no real understanding can be possible.
But be sure that you can communicate with yourself first. If you cannot communicate with yourself, how do you expect to communicate with another person? Love is the same. If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love someone else.
If you cannot accept yourself, if you cannot treat yourself with kindness, you cannot do this for another person.
Very often you behave exactly like your father, but you don’t realize it. And though you behave like him, you feel you are total opposites. You do not accept him, you hate him.
When you do not accept your father, you do not accept yourself. Your father is in you; you are the continuation of your father. So if you can communicate with yourself, then you can communicate with your father.
The self is made of non-self elements; therefore, understanding ourselves is our practice. Our father is a non-self element. We say our father is not us, but without our father, we cannot exist. So he is fully present in our body and in our mind. He is us. Thus, if you understand yourself, your whole self, you understand that you are your father—he is not outside of you.
There are so many other non-self elements that you can touch and recognize within yourself—your ancestors, the earth, the sun, water, air, all the food you eat, and much more.
It may seem like these things are separate from you, but without them, you could not live.
Suppose two warring parties want to negotiate, and both sides do not know enough about themselves. You have to really know yourself, your country, your party, your situation, in order to understand the other’s party, the other’s nation, the other’s people. Self and others are not two separate things, because the suffering, hope, and anger of both sides is very much the same.
When we get angry, we suffer. If you really understand that, you also will be able to understand that when the other person is angry, it means that she is suffering.When someone insults you or behaves violently towards you, you have to be intelligent enough to see that the person suffers from his own violence and anger. But we tend to forget.We think that we are the only one that suffers, and the other person is our oppressor.
This is enough to make anger arise, and to strengthen our desire to punish.We want to punish the other person because we suffer.Then, we have anger in us; we have violence in us, just as they do.When we see that our suffering and anger are no different from their suffering and anger, we will behave more compassionately. So understanding the other is understanding yourself, and understanding yourself is understanding the other person. Everything must begin with you.
To understand ourselves, we must learn and practice the way of non-duality. We should not fight our anger, because anger is our self, a part of our self. Anger is of an organic nature, like love. We have to take good care of anger. And because it is an organic entity, an organic phenomenon, it is possible to transform it into another organic entity. The garbage can be transformed back into compost, into lettuce, and into cucumber. So don’t despise your anger. Don’t fight your anger, and don’t suppress your anger. Learn the tender way of taking care of your anger, and transform it into the energy of understanding and compassion.
Compassion Is Intelligent
Understanding and compassion are very powerful sources of energy. They are the opposite of stupidity and passivity. If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don’t know what real understanding or compassion is.
If you think that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with non-violence, when you act on the basis of non-duality, you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger, you do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you, and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Mahatma Gandhi was just one person. He did not have any bombs, any guns, or any political party. He acted simply on the insight of non-duality, the strength of compassion, not on the basis of anger.
Human beings are not our enemy. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person. When we are armed with compassion and understanding, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit. We don’t want to kill others, but we will not let them dominate and exploit us or other people. You have to protect yourself. You are not stupid. You are very intelligent, and you have insight. Being compassionate does not mean allowing other people to do violence to themselves or to you.
Being compassionate means being intelligent. Non-violent action that springs from love can only be intelligent action.
Being compassionate doesn’t mean suffering unnecessarily or losing your common sense. Suppose you are leading a group of people doing walking meditation, moving slowly and beautifully. The walking meditation generates a lot of energy; it embraces everyone with calm, solidity, and peace.
But suddenly it begins to rain. Would you continue to walk slowly, letting yourself and everyone else get soaked? That’s not intelligent. If you are a good leader of the walking meditation, you will break into a jogging meditation. You still maintain the joy of the walking meditation. You can laugh and smile, and thus you prove that the practice is not stupid.
You can also be mindful while running and avoid getting soaked. We have to practice in an intelligent way. Meditation is not a stupid act. Meditation is not just blindly following whatever the person next to you does. To meditate you have to be skillful and make good use of your intelligence.
Building a Compassionate Police Force To be kind does not mean to be passive. To be compassionate does not mean to allow others to walk all over you, to allow yourself to be destroyed. You have to protect yourself and protect others. If you need to lock someone up because he is dangerous, then you have to do that. But you have to do it with compassion. Your motivation is to prevent that person from continuing his course of destruction and from feeding his anger.
You don’t have to be a monk in order to be compassionate, you can be a policeman. You can be a judge or a prison guard. But as a policeman, a judge, or prison guard, we need you to be a Bodhisattva. We need you to be beings of great compassion. Although you have to be very firm, you should always keep compassion alive in you.
And if you practice mindful living, you have to help the policeman act out of compassion and non-fear. The police in our time are full of fear, anger, and stress, because they have been assaulted many times. Those who hate the police and insult them don’t understand the police yet. In the morning, when the police put on their uniform and guns, they are not sure that they will return home alive in the evening. The police suffer very much. Their families suffer very much. They don’t enjoy beating people. They don’t enjoy shooting people.
But because they do not know how to handle the blocks of fear, suffering, and violence in them, they also can become victims of society like other people. So, as a police chief, if you really understand the minds and hearts of the people on your police force, you will train yourself in such a way that compassion and understanding will be born in your heart.
Then you will be able to educate and help the policemen and women who have to go out on the streets every morning, every night, to do the hard task of keeping the city in peace.
In France the police are called “peace-keepers.” But if you don’t have peace in you, how can you keep peace in the city?
You have to keep peace in yourself first. And peace here means non-fear, intelligence, and insight. The police do learn a number of techniques in order to protect themselves, but self-defense techniques are not enough. You have to be intelligent.
You have to act out of non-fear. If you are too fearful, then you will make many mistakes. You will be tempted to use your gun, and you may kill many innocent people.
We Cannot Take Sides
In Los Angeles, four policemen beat a black driver nearly to death. The press talked about it all over the world, and everyone wanted to take sides. You may have taken the side of the victim of the beating, or of the policemen. When you judge and take sides, you act as though you are outside of the conflict.
You act as though you are not the black driver who was beaten, or the four policemen. But looking deeply, you see that you are the victim of the beating, and you are also the four policemen who did the beating. Anger, fear, frustration, and violence are in the person who was beaten and in those who did the beating. Just as they are in us.
To understand the police and help them suffer less, let us imagine that we are the husband or wife of a police officer.
Living together, you are in touch with how hard your spouse’s life is. So every morning and every evening, you want to do something to help your spouse to transform his or her anger, fear, and frustration. When you are capable of helping your husband or wife suffer less, then the whole city will profit— even the delinquent youth. This is the best way to help the community. With intelligence, insight, and compassion, you can help avoid a lot of accidents.
A Dialogue to End Anger and Violence
The image of a police officer full of violence, prejudice, and fear is not a positive image. So many young people see the police as their enemy.They want to burn police cars and beat up policemen, because the police are the object of their anger, their frustration.We must organize a meeting, a dialogue, between police and the youngsters who have committed acts of violence, and who have been put in prison.Why don’t we organize this kind of conversation and give the police a chance to speak about their frustration, anger, and fear? Andwhy don’t we allow these youngsters who fight with the police to speak out about their frustration, anger, and fear?Why don’t we televise this dialogue so that a whole nation can learn from it?
This would be true meditation: looking deeply, not as an individual, but as a city, as a nation.We have not seen the truth.
We have seen a lot of movies, detective stories, andWesterns, but we have not seen the truth that is in the hearts and minds of real people.We should organize this kind of dialogue so that the truth can be shown to the whole population.
B o m b i n g O u r s e l v e s
“God, please forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing,” said Christ. When someone commits a crime and makes others suffer, it is because he does not know what he is doing. Many young people commit crimes, and they do not know, they do not understand how much suffering their violence causes. Every time they commit an act of violence, they are doing it to themselves as well as others. They may feel that committing these acts of violence and expressing anger will lessen their anger. But the anger in them will only continue to grow.
When you drop bombs on your enemy, you drop the same bombs on yourself, on your own country. During the war in Vietnam, the American people suffered just as much as the Vietnamese people. The wounds of war are as deep in America as in Vietnam. Stopping violence is what we have to do. And we cannot stop violence unless we have the insight that what we do to the other person, we are doing to ourselves.
Teachers must show students that when they are violent, they themselves will suffer. But teachers cannot just tell them this, they have to be more creative than that. We should not be dogmatic in our way of sharing insight with others. We should be flexible and intelligent, using “skillful means.” Skillful means is very important. A Great Being has to be skillful in the practice and in helping other people.
Stopping Wars Before They Happen
The majority of us wait until a war breaks out in order to begin some kind of effort to stop it. Many of us do not know that the roots of war are everywhere, including in our own thinking and way of life. We are not capable of seeing the war while it is still hidden. We begin to focus our attention on the war only when the war breaks out into the open and people start talking about it. Then we feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the war. We feel helpless. We take sides and feel that one is right and the other is wrong. We condemn one side, but we have nothing to contribute towards ending the destruction caused by the war.
As a true practitioner, you have to practice looking deeply into the situation to see the war before it starts. You have to begin acting in order to stop the war before it breaks out into the open. With your insight and awareness, you can help other people to wake up and develop the same awareness.
Then, together you can act skillfully in order to prevent the war from breaking out into the open.
The countries of NATO thought that violence, bombing Belgrade, was the only solution to ending racial discrimination in the former Yugoslavia. They believed that there was no other way. They were not able to see and respond to the roots of war, which were already apparent before the war started, because their capacity of looking deeply, of meditation is limited. Violence can never bring about peace and understanding.
Only by looking deeply in order to understand the true roots of violence can we achieve peace.
If you are a good meditator, you may have deeper insight than others, and you may know better ways to stop racial discrimination without resorting to bombs or other violent means. There are many wars about to break out everywhere on the planet. If you are really a person of peace, you should be aware of that, and try your best, together with your community, to stop these wars before they blow up, causing extreme violence. If you want to stop violent interventions like the one in Kosovo, then you have to offer an alternative. If you have a good idea, you can transmit that idea to your congressperson or senator and urge them to intervene so that a more positive course of action can be taken. We need to learn to meditate as a nation, not only as individuals, in order to achieve the kind of insight that will be able to stop war and violence.
There is a young man who is a vegetarian, not because he is fanatic or dogmatic, but out of mindfulness. He does not eat the flesh of animals because he doesn’t have the heart to eat them. His father was very unhappy about this, and so there was no harmony or joy in his home. The young man knew that he could not stop being vegetarian, because he would be miserable if he had to eat animals. He could not change just to please his father, but he did not want this tense atmosphere to continue. He used his intelligence; he did not remain passive.
One day he came home with a videotape, and said, “Dad, here’s a wonderful documentary film.” He then showed a video about the slaughter of animals to his father and the whole family. His father experienced so much suffering in watching animals being slaughtered that after having seen that film, he did not want to eat meat anymore. The insight was direct; it was not an idea. Instead of using anger, instead of letting suffering overwhelm him, the young man acted out of loving-kindness, wisdom, and intelligence. He was able to convince the whole family not to eat animals so that compassion could be nourished within each one of them. The act of showing that documentary film was very skillful, and full of love. With skillful action, you can win a very big victory.
As an individual, you may have some insight, and that insight gives rise to compassion and a willingness to act. But as an individual, you can only do so much. If other people do not have the same insight, you have to do your best to make your insight a collective one. Yet you cannot force your insight on others. You may force them to accept your idea, but then it is simply an idea, not a real insight. Insight is not an idea.
The way to share your insight is to help create the conditions so that others can realize the same insight—through their own experience, not just believing what you say. This takes skillfulness and patience.
Helping Love to Reappear
There is a sister in Plum Village who is still very young— twenty-two. She was able to help a mother and daughter to reconcile just after they vowed never to see each other again.
In a period of three hours, she was able to help the mother and the daughter resolve their conflict. In the end, both of them practiced hugging meditation. They gently took each other in their arms and breathed in and out mindfully several times. They practiced, “Breathing in, I am aware that I am alive; breathing out, I am aware that my beloved one is still alive, here in my arms.”They practiced to be mindful of the gift of each other’s presence and were deeply in touch with the present moment, putting one hundred percent of themselves in the act of embracing the other. It was very healing.
Through the practice, they realized that they loved each other very much. They did not know that they loved each other so much, because they had not been skillful in their relationship, in their way of speaking and listening.
Just because anger or hate is present does not mean that the capacity to love and accept is not there. If you are skillful as a meditator, as a peace-worker, you can help the love, the understanding to reappear in yourself and the other person.
Please do not believe that love is not in you. It’s not true; love is always in you. It is like the sunshine; even when it rains, the sunshine is always there a little bit above the clouds.
If you go above the clouds, you see plenty of sunshine. So if you believe that there is no love in you, that you feel only hate for the other person, you are wrong. Wait until the other person dies. You will cry and cry and wish that he could come back to life. This shows that love is there. You should give love a chance to manifest, while the other person is still alive. To help love to reappear you have to know how to manage your anger. Anger always goes together with confusion, with ignorance.
Going Past Judgment
Suppose you are the teacher of a five-year-old girl. When her mother comes to pick her up from school, you see that the mother is aggressive, making the little girl suffer. What can you do? You can do a lot. The child will listen to you, so you can help her to understand her mother. You can also give her a chance to speak out and tell you of the difficulties she has with her mother, even though she is only five. You can play the role of a good mother for her. You can tell her that it is possible for the two of you to help her mother. You can teach her how to act and react in moments when the mother becomes angry and violent to avoid making the situation worse. It is very important to help the little girl, because when there is a change in her, it will have a good effect on the mother.
As the teacher of the young girl, you also have access to the mother. If you have compassion and insight you will be able to help. Otherwise, you will only judge the mother as wrong and the daughter as right. You will only be able to condemn the mother’s abusive behavior. You oppose her violence with her child, but it is not helpful just to express your disapproval. You have to do something. You have to act out of compassion and insight, not only for the abused child, but also for the child’s mother and father. If you cannot help her father and mother, you cannot help the child. You may see the child as the victim, as the only one who needs help. But if you really want to do everything you can to help the child, you must help the mother and father—who you considered to be the enemy. If you do not help them you cannot help the child. Helping the parents is helping the child. The parents are full of ignorance, they are full of violence and anger, and that is why their child suffers. So you have to have compassion towards the parents. You have to see the roots of the suffering.
Our educators need to know this and help all of us take care of parents in order to take care of children.
Serving Our Country
The French government is trying hard to take care of youngsters who are violent. They do have some insight. They understand that the violence and the suffering of these youngsters are caused by society. In order to know how to respond, we must listen like a doctor. We must listen very carefully to the organism of society, to see why the youngsters become so violent, so angry. If we do this, we will see that the roots of their anger and violence are in the family, in the way parents conduct their daily life. And the roots of family violence are found in the way society is organized and how people consume.
The government is also people. The government is made of fathers, of mothers, of sons, of daughters. And these fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters also carry the violence of their family within them. So if the French prime minister does not practice looking deeply, does not see the anger, violence, depression, and suffering within himself, he will not be able to understand the violence, anger, and depression in the younger generation. He also has to understand members of his government, in the ministry of youth, in the ministry of education, etc., and see their suffering. As citizens, as a government, we must act, but on what basis should that action take place? On the basis of understanding.
If we have practiced looking deeply enough in order to see the roots of anger and violence in our society, then we will have a lot of compassion for our young people. We will know that just locking them up and punishing them is not going to help. This is what the former French Prime Minister Jospin has said. So he and his government do have some insight.
But as a people, as citizens, we have to help. We have to help deepen this kind of insight. As an educator, as a parent, as an artist, as a writer, we have to practice so that we have enough insight to help our government.
Even if you are in a different political party than the ruling party, you have to practice. When you help the ruling party, you are helping your country. It is your country that you must help, not a political party. And if the current French prime minister now has a chance to do something to improve the condition of the young people in France, then the appropriate way to serve your country is to offer him your insight and your help. This does not mean you betray your people or your party. Your party exists in order to serve your country, not to create difficulties for another party or the party in power. So, as a politician, you have to practice nonduality.
You have to see that compassion is above any political affiliation. This is not partisan politics but intelligent politics. They are politics that are humane, that aim at the well-being and the transformation of society, not just at gaining power.
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