A friend included me in her circle of friends and circulated the following chain email about anger. My Buddhist spin on the text appears below:
NAILS IN THE FENCE
Make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence. (Most importantly the last sentence)
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all.
He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, ‘You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. But It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound will still be there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Remember that friends are very rare jewels, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us.’
It’s National Friendship Week. Show your friends how much you care.
Please forgive me if I have ever left a ‘hole’ in your fence.
* * *
From a Buddhist perspective, we learn to control our anger. Also, through deeply exploring the true nature of our minds, we learn how to prevent anger from arising in the first place. As a result, we avoid creating negative karma — scars that mar both us and our friends in this and countless future lives. To take this a step further, we develop bodhicitta (love and compassion) not just for our friends and family but for strangers and enemies by learning to see all beings as our mothers. As Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Losang Jampa explained, once we realize that we experience difficulties due to our own negative karma, it is impossible to become angry with others.