Adapted from the Grand Master’s Dharma Talk
Kindness and compassion can dispel the anger we feel. The Buddha said, “Great is the kindness that is unconditioned; great is the compassion when all are one.” Unconditioned compassion is to treat all people (strangers, relatives, friends and even enemies) with a mind filled with compassion. Another great teacher, Confucius, stated that we should, “Respect our elders and respect others’ elders; care about our young and care for others’ young.” Buddhism also states that we should strive for “equality between friends and foes, and among all beings.” Do not discriminate. With a mindset of kindness, we can treat all equally and in the appropriate respectful way.
Not only should we treat people with equality and care for animals with compassion, but we should also protect and cherish trees, plants, even a blade of grass; in other words we should protect the whole environment and all sentient life. If we can develop this spirit of unconditional kindness and great compassion toward everything, society will be harmonious. If children cultivate this spirit when they are young, fighting and trouble can be minimized.
Compassion and kindness must be cultivated in our daily life. First, we must practice no killing. Next, we need to work to save lives, because animals have the same Buddha nature as humans. If we can refrain from eating meat and be vegetarian, it is compassionate conduct. As a result, our mind will be peaceful, harmonious, and bright.
Those who have kind and compassionate minds radiate gentleness and joy and everyone enjoys being with them. On the other hand, those who harbor anger and hatred develop an unwelcoming appearance and people are afraid to associate with them.
Anger is a fire which burns the forest of merits (virtuous actions). When we give rise to anger we harm our body through the rising of our blood pressure and so forth. It destroys relationships. For example, if you are consumed with anger, people will not hire or work with you. When they do, resentments and bad karma are created. When you are angry, even friends and relatives will stay away from you. If you understand the Buddha’s teaching and the truth about causality, you will know how to pacify your mind and get along with others. When your mind is peaceful, your body will be healthier, your relationship with others will become more harmonious, and your journey in life can become happy and blessed.
Some people think that the place where they live is not safe due to the impact of disasters such as war or fire. They want to immigrate to other countries. However, it will be the same wherever they go. The disastrous results of wars and fires are due to anger. Buddhism teaches that the environment is changed by the mind. Most people do not understand this and blame disasters on external factors. If we, as individuals and as a society, respect the environment, all people and animals, and work together with respect and harmony, we can avoid disasters, or when they occur, we will be prepared to weather them successfully with kindness and compassion to all. People have no will to create disasters; however, they still harbor anger and hatred. If people have anger, no matter where they flee, they cannot escape the effects of disasters.
If we want the external environment to be peaceful and pure, we need to begin by changing the mind. The Vimalakirti Sutra says, ‘When the mind is pure, the land is pure.’ When the mind is pure, the place where we live is a pure land. We don’t need to move to find this pure land. If we don’t change our mindset, no matter where we escape, we will not be at peace.
If we want to get rid of our anger, we need to develop a great compassionate mind. Without this, it is very difficult to eliminate anger. We need to practice and develop compassion and kindness gradually, day by day. Compassion and kindness are the realm of the bodhisattvas. If you can perfect unconditional compassion and kindness to all, you are a bodhisattva (one who benefits others and yourself). Everyone can perfect these virtues in their life with appropriate effort.