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Meditation: Getting Rid of Resentment

Hating is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die.

"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!

Please let me know what you think by clicking the “Comments” icon below.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

ariel farber December 09, 2011 at 12:05 PM
Hi Mark, I really enjoy reading your piece every week. It always makes me stop and think, and is an inspiration to try to be centered. Thanks! - Ariel Farber
charityneverfaileth December 10, 2011 at 01:10 AM
There's one word to define what you are talking about. Forgiveness.
Riverhawk December 13, 2011 at 06:03 AM
Greetings and thanks for being there. Is dwelling on a terrible happening (actually several) the same as having resentment. At the time I was very young and was told if I did not forgive those in authority who did it I would bother me later in life. Guess what it is now much later in life and bothers me daily. I was told that if I prayed for a person that I resented it would help and at times I found this to be amazingly true. It does not work with this for some reason. Also I met a Jesuit priest one time and we would chat almost daily. in speaking about being at peace he said gto me that "peace comes from within". I never saw the man again, any clue on what he meant by that, thanks and enjoy the holidays.
Rabbi Mark Sameth December 13, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Hello Riverhawk. I’m so sorry. I believe there is wisdom in the teaching Bodhipaksa was quoting. I believe there is wisdom in the words of your Jesuit priest. Indeed you write that your own experience has borne this out. Still situations differ one from the other, as does what constitutes a beneficial response given the circumstances. As to your question about “dwelling on” versus “resentment”: One can cease to resent, and yet find it improper to forgive; forgive, and yet find it improper to forget. These issues are very personal and need to be individually addressed. There are very good reasons to hold those in authority accountable for their actions. Dwelling on terrible events is not an indication of a personal shortcoming; to believe so is to bring even greater suffering upon oneself. I hope you can find a trustworthy counselor with whom you can talk. – Rabbi Mark

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