Aware of that, how can I be upset at the person or thing. It is a result of their suffering. They are not to blame. I can only have compassion for the person (or society). This teaching has been invaluable, coming to mind frequently and helping me to not react to my hot buttons. It compliments the teaching that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is.
As I’ve written many times, we are programmed by our learned experience to act in certain ways. Our actual range of freedom of action is very narrow. The whole concept of free will is an illusion. So the person did not truly choose to do the thing that upset you, it’s how the person has been programmed. Even urban sprawl, one of my buttons, is a direct expression of society’s suffering.
Moreover, the other morning while meditating, I realized that this teaching has another application. It is not just that the act that disturbs us is a direct expression of someone’s suffering, but our reaction to that act is a direct expression of our suffering. The two sufferings act together, synergistically, to create a tango of samsara.
We would not react to an action or thing with agitation if it didn’t touch one of our samsara nerves. All of which spring from our deep insecurity. Often this truth is obvious. But one could well ask what my strong dislike of urban sprawl has to do with my insecurity. Well, to cover my emotional insecurity as a child, I developed myself intellectually. Further, whatever I thought about something was without question right; had to be. I was always right. And so it goes with urban sprawl. I think it is an unnecessary blight on the landscape as well as a fog of ugliness that envelopes most people’s lives. And I would not stand for it!
It’s one thing to have an opinion that one is not attached to, quite another to be attached to your opinions. Before I advanced on the spiritual path, I was definitely attached to my opinions. And the results were frustration and suffering over all the things I could not change, had no power over. Now I still have mostly the same opinions, but I know that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is. If I want to work to change things I can, but I try not to get attached to those efforts.