I am sitting on the beach hearing a Russian couple arguing.
I can’t really begin to describe what a perfect day it is today, but I can say that it is the best time of year with clear blue sky, turquoise sea, white sand, soft breezes, pelicans, a vast bathtub to swim in with the dolphins, etc… you know the kind of thing. The kind of thing you see on billboards in the subway torturing New Yorkers in the middle of winter.
But this couple is missing all the fun. I noticed their tension the moment they came and stood, for some strange reason, a few feet away from me. Their argument started sotte voce, and then started to get a little louder, and then a little louder. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying as my Russian is not that good (though I do know the word for “cat”), but I still used a quick dip in the ocean as an excuse to leave them to it. Now having got back and snuck farther away, their voices sound even louder than before. And they are now standing with both feet solidly on the sand, hands on hips, not even wanting to look at each other.
Like I said, I have no idea what they are arguing about, and it doesn’t actually matter as it is probably the type of domestic dispute being played out all over the world and I certainly have not been immune to such squabbling myself. But it strikes me that at these times we are making ourselves miss out on all the fun, as DhiDakini suggests in her comment:
Doesn’t it seem strange and so interesting… that we sit in a pleasant moment and worry about things that AREN’T happening right now…?
Nothing but their delusion of anger is currently ruining these two people’s day, perhaps even their entire hard-earned vacation. They might have spent a lot of money to come here and feel miserable.
My teacher Geshe Kelsang says in Introduction to Buddhism:
If our mind is peaceful we will be free from worries and mental discomfort, and so we will experience true happiness; but if our mind is not peaceful we will find it very difficult to be happy, even if we are living in the very best conditions.
If we ponder on simple staring-us-in-the-face illustrations like this how anger ruins our fun, this is one of its most obvious faults, and might give us the incentive to overcome our own anger next time we’re about to ruin the moment with a stupid argument. Some of the other faults of anger may not be quite as obvious — such as the destruction of our good karma and creating the cause to be ugly in future lives — but this one is.
Right now the man is spreadeagled flat on his back, the woman having stormed off back to their (rather nice) hotel. World War III is on hold. I hope he is staring into the space of the sky and calming down, and that he can count his blessings and enjoy his rather spectacular surroundings before it is time to go back to work.
May we all swiftly be freed from the crippling delusion of anger.
Your comments welcome, as always. And please share this article if you like it.
This interesting date, 11.11.11, happens to be the birthday of a spectacularly good friend. We met in the first week of college, went to our first Kadampa Buddhist meditation class together at the tender age of 18, and the rest is history. So on 11.11.11 I’d like to wish him a very happy birthday and many, many more to come. I know I won’t be alone in this wish. Happy Birthday, Morten!!!!
If you want to hear a truly insightful teaching on Buddhism and meditation, seek him out in New York City or at one of the New Kadampa Tradition festivals.