Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Be careful what you rejoice in

(6.86) It is bad enough that you, mind, have no remorse
For the non-virtues you have committed;
But why do you compound it
By being jealous with those who practise virtue?

Rejoicing is probably the easiest virtue we can engage in.  All we need to do is be happy for others, and especially when they create the causes of happiness, namely engage in virtue.  When we rejoice in others virtues, we get a similitude of the karma they create from engaging in the virtue.  Rejoicing in others’ virtue also inspires us to engage in more virtue ourselves because we are seeing it as something good and worthwhile.

But often, when we see others engage in virtue, we start to feel competitive thinking that we are better than that other person or we find a way to criticize the virtue of others as being mixed with worldly concerns or selfish intent or is unskillful, or whatever.  Where do such minds come from?  I think they come from a toxic combination of guilt about our own weak virtues and jealousy of others being better than us.  These two get together and then make us find fault when instead we should be rejoicing. 

(6.87) The thought that wishes for our enemy to suffer
Harms only us, through creating non-virtue;
Understanding this, we should not develop harmful thoughts
Towards anyone, including our enemies.

(6.88) And even if your enemy did suffer as you wish,
How would that benefit you?
If you say, “Well, at least it would give me some satisfaction”,
How can there be a mind lower than that?

(6.89) Such thoughts are like unbearably sharp hooks
Cast by the fishermen of the delusions, such as anger.
Once caught on them, we shall definitely be boiled alive
In the terrifying cauldrons of the guardians of hell.

Harmful thoughts themselves can only bring suffering upon ourself. They can never make us happy even if they come true.  

About a year after 9/11, I was visiting my family in my childhood home.  My brother comes to me and says he has something he wants to show me.  He then begins a video of a U.S. military strike of some base in Afghanistan.  Apparently, the United States has these superfortresses that can basically hover above an area, and they use laser guided targeting to shoot individual people.  So first, a missile came in and destroyed the main building.  Then, people started fleeing out of the wreckage and surrounding buildings, and the video showed the computer locking in on individual people, then shooting them; then it would turn to the next person, shoot them, and so on until all on the scene were dead.  While this was going on, the gunner in the plane could be heard with a crazed sound in his voice of, “got him,” and “take that,” and “woohooo.”  I then looked over at my other brother who was watching with us, and he was also making faces each time somebody would be shot like, “yes!” 

I felt absolutely nauseated.  I was reminded of what Gen Tharchin once said, “when people read the newspaper about battle reports and rejoice in all those killed, they create basically the same karma as if it had been them pulling the trigger.”  We live in incredibly politically polarized times, and feel great joy when we hear about how our political “enemies” suffer some kind of defeat – we want them to suffer in the ways they have caused others to suffer.  Lately, a trend in the media has been to report on how the family of certain government leaders feel ashamed of their children or uncles serving under Trump, and instead of imagining how that must emotionally hurt to the person being written about, we feel self-righteous about how even their families hate them for what they are doing.  When violence breaks out at protests, we become enraged when somebody from our side gets killed, but think they had it coming when somebody from the other side gets hurt. 

At work we take great delight hearing about how those who are creating problems for us or are standing in the way of our wishes face setbacks, and on Facebook we cheer when those we disagree with get “owned.”  So much of modern life is people rejoicing in other’s misery. 

If we are honest we become pleased when a person who has harmed us suffers some misfortune.  We become pleased thinking perhaps they deserve what has come to them.  The karmic consequences of rejoicing in the misfortune of others is as Shantideva explains.  We must avoid this at all costs unless we want to be boiled alive.

One thought on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Be careful what you rejoice in

  1. Being boiled alive in the terrifying cauldrons of the guardians of hell should most definitely make us all stop rejoicing in others misfortune!!!🙏🏻

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