"Ann Lamott, in her novel Crooked Little Heart, says that holding onto resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. Resentment is seductive. We assume on some level that it’s going to help us, but it doesn’t. It just causes us pain.” So writes the Buddhist practitioner Bodhipaksa, author of Living as a River. (Both books may be ordered locally through .)
Bodhipaksa writes about an ancient Buddhist “12 step” method (my words) for getting rid of destructive resentment. In short, those steps are:
1) Lovingkindness practice; 2) reflect that resentment is never justified; 3) winning the real battle; 4) accentuate the positive; 5) develop compassion; 6) notice how you’re causing yourself suffering; 7) reflect that all beings are owners of their karma; 8) reflect on exemplars of patience; 9) reflect that all beings have been your dearest friends and relations in a previous life; 10) reflect on the benefits of lovingkindness; 11) break the other person into tiny pieces; 12) give a gift.
Some of these, of course, we immediately intuit; for others one really needs to read Bodhipaksa’s article to know what he’s getting at. The article appears on his Wildmind website.
One more word for today, and that is that one needn’t accept all such tenets to be able to learn and grow from them. For instance, the concept of karma means different things to different people; indeed Buddhists, so I understand, do not all agree with each other about it either. We always have a choice when we approach a new teaching: do we first wish to find fault with it, or first wish to learn from it. Most of us need no help finding fault! How can we open up and better learn from each other is the question. And there is much we could all stand to learn. As it says in the Muslim holy book the Qur’an: we were created to learn from each other. Mazel and bruchas (luck and blessings) to all!
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Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue – with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester. Read The New York Times article. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public. Everyone is welcome and warmly invited.