There is a famous Buddhist story (copied below) which illustrates that in every household there is suffering. It is foolish to assume that others are not having difficulties of some sort in their lives. And as I read the harsh words of some commentors on other sites, I wonder if they even imagine that the person they are assaulting may be suffering illness, death, separation, depression, turmoil, financial insecurity, anxiety or even worse in their personal life. Do brutal commentors forget that the world does not evolve around their emotions.
Sometimes I am also more harsh in my comments than I wish I were. I forget that there is a real person which will be receiving my black-and-white typed messages. I forget that they may have a world where they are suffering. I forget to be courteous and thoughtful.
So let’s take a second and remember that the people we are arguing with have a personal life that may have some rough spots right now. Let’s strive to be courteous, thoughtful and not destructive. We can be firm and straightforward and still be civil.
Click the “continue reading” if you wish to read the Buddhist story.
From the Dhammapad Commentary (Part IV)
[A woman’s young son died and she grieved deeply. But she heard of a great Buddhist teacher who she hoped could possibly bring the son back to life–“cure her son”.] So she went to the Teacher, paid obeisance to him, stood at his side, and asked him, “Venerable sir, is it true, as men say, that you know how to cure my child?” – “Yes, I know that.” – “What shall I get?” – “A pinch of white mustard seed.” – “I will get that, venerable sir. But in whose house shall I get it?” – “In whose house neither son nor daughter nor any other has yet died.” – “Very well, venerable sir,” said she, and paid obeisance to him.
Then she placed the dead child on her hip, entered the village, stopped at the door of the very first house, and asked, “Have you here any white mustard seed? They say it will cure my child.” – “Yes.” – “Well then, give it to me.” They brought some grains of white mustard seed and gave them to her. She asked, “Friends, in the house where you dwell has son or daughter yet died?” – “What are you saying, woman? As for the living they are few; only the dead are many.” – “Well then, take back your mustard seed; that is no medicine for my child.” So saying, she gave back the mustard seed.
After this manner, going from house to house, she plied her quest. There was not a single house where she found the mustard seed she sought; and when the evening came, she thought, “Ah! It’s a heavy task I took upon myself. I thought that I alone had lost a child, but in every village the dead are more in number than the living.” While she reflected thus her heart, which until then was soft with mother’s love, became firm. She took the child and discarded him in the forest. Then she went to the Teacher, paid homage to him, and stood to one side.
Said the Teacher, “Did you get the pinch of mustard seed?” – “No, I did not, venerable sir. In every village the dead are more in number than the living.” Said the Teacher, “You imagined vainly that you alone had lost a child. But all living beings are subject to an unchanging law, and it is this: The Prince of Death, like a raging torrent, sweeps away into the sea of ruin all living beings, but still their longings are unfulfilled.” And instructing her in the Dhamma, he pronounced the following stanza:
In flocks and children finding delight
With a mind clinging – just such a man
Death seizes and carries away,
As a great flood a sleeping village.
As the Teacher uttered the last part of the stanza, Kisa Gotami was established in the fruit of stream-entry [awakening]. Likewise did many others also obtain the fruit of stream-entry, and the fruits of the second and third paths. Kisa Gotami requested the Teacher to let her go forth; accordingly he sent her to the Order of Nuns and directed that they let her go forth. Afterwards she obtained acceptance as a nun and came to be known as the nun Kisa Gotami.