A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Anger is self inflicted pain

I heard a parable today at meditation class about anger. Anger is the name of an archer who shoots his arrows at us. They don’t pierce us or kill us; rather they hit us hard enough to get our attention then land on the ground at our feet. The damage comes when we pick the arrow up; then we start stabbing at ourselves with it, over and over, and until we finally grow tired enough that we can’t hold the arrow any longer. The archer observes us do this, and thinks to himself; ah I found an easy target, so as soon as he can he shoots another arrow at us. We repeat our actions as we did with the first one. This continues until it’s a habitual response. Buddhism teaches us to see the arrow we are stabbing ourselves with, and to say I am not attached to you, so we drop the arrow. As we practice this we hold the arrow for a shorter time, each successive time we pick one up. After enough diligent practice we stop ourselves as we touch the arrow with our hands, and we say I recognize you I am not going to pick you up. After a while we don’t even notice the arrows as they hit us. When we reach this stage, the archer is fed up wasting his time, so he quits shooting the arrows at us. After all there are lots of easier targets in the world. My thanks to my friend and teacher, Leigh for sharing this.

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