Tolerance part 4 from a prose translation by Stephen Batchelor of the sixth chapter of Acarya Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhicaryavatara).
It could be argued that, were one’s life prosperous, one would be able to eradicate evil and accumulate goodness. But would not goodness be erased and evil increased if one aggressively had to pursue prosperity? What would be the value of such an evil existence if thereby one only succeeded in destroying that for the purpose of which one lived?
Shouldn’t I be angry with those who say unpleasant things which cause others to lose [faith in me]? But then why do you not get angry with those who say unpleasant things to others? For if you can tolerate those whose ill-will arises on account of others, why can you not tolerate those whose slander arises on account of their emotions?
Also those who revile and destroy images, reliquaries and the sacred Dharma do not deserve my hatred, for the Buddhas remain unharmed. Seeing, as mentioned already, how all things proceed from conditions, I must even restrain my anger towards those who injure my teachers, friends and loved ones.
Creatures are caused harm both by sentient beings and insentient things alike. Why is there this resentful bias against the sentient? Learn to tolerate all harm!
If someone does wrong out of confusion and someone else gets angry because he is also confused, who can be said to be innocent and who guilty?
Why did I previously commit that action which now causes someone else to harm me? If everything is related to my former actions, why should I be angry with him? Should they realise this, people will be more loving towards each other. Thus in every way I should apply myself to what is good.
When a house is ablaze and threatens to burn down another, then one quickly gets rid of straw and anything else which would cause the fire to spread. Similarly I should immediately discard anything to which my mind is attached out of fear that the fire of hatred will spread to it and consume my goodness.
First published in the December 1990 Buddhism Now.
Click here to read the other parts of Tolerance, chapter Six of Bodhicharyavatara (Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life)
To read more of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life from Stephen Batchelor click here.
To read more from Stephen click here.