“By [getting angry] you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink”
– Venerable Buddhaghosa, Visuddhimagga IX-23 (written in 5th Century AD).
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When Luang Pu was undergoing treatment at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, large numbers of people came to pay their respects and listen to his Dhamma. Mr. Bamrungsak Kongsuk was among those who were interested in the practice of meditation. He was a student of Ajaan Sanawng of Wat Sanghadana in Nonthaburi province, one of the strict meditation centers of our day and time.
He broached the topic of the practice of the Dhamma by asking, “Luang Pu, how does one cut off anger?”
Luang Pu answered,
“There’s nobody who cuts it off. There’s only being aware of it in time. When you’re aware of it in time, it disappears on its own.”
We all have fuel inside, ready to be lit, ready to burn. It can burn with anger, pleasure, hatred, jealousy, craving, etc. When lit it burns the mind and body, though many do not realise it. It’s hard to speak and act wisely when on fire.
Some people’s fire is lit with the tiniest spark, like a pile of dry straw. Others take more to light, like a pile of heartwood logs.
When we practice the dharma we aim to douse our fuel with cool waters allowing us to keep a mind of compassion and equanimity even when standing amongst a blaze.
Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. But gradually, the number of daily nails dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the first day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.
“You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, it won’t matter how many times you say ‘I’m sorry’, the wound is still there.”
– Unknown origin.