Baggage. Every single human being carries some sort of baggage. Some carry more than others, but none are free to walk this earth without some weight in their hearts, souls, and minds. I am only 20 years old and there are times when I feel my baggage weighs me down the way an anchor stops a ship from sailing. Buddhism is unique in the case that facing your baggage is part of the path of Enlightenment.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with a monk (Thay Nguyen Tam) – a monk who phrased the releasing of one’s personal baggage so eloquently that I couldn’t forget it. He said, “If you take a breath in and you do not take a breath out, you will die. In this way, whatever evils are thrown at you, you must allow them to leave your mind, or your will die.”
What touched my heart the most, though, was his desire for me to not have my heart “poisoned” by the evils in the world. He asked of me to let go not just for my sake, but for his sake, because he would not be able to stand seeing a pure heart spoil. His teachings drove me nearly to tears, as I had never been shown such true love and care from a monk who truly wanted to see me succeed in this world. It made me think of The Buddha, whose teachings have always seemed heavenly and beautiful to me, yet extremely difficult to follow. However, after hearing this monk’s sincere words, I opened by books of the Buddha’s teachings to see where I could read more about his lesson. I found the following excerpt:
“If I were to get angry, that will be a hindrance to me. If you get angry, that would only be a hindrance to you. Exchanging one anger for another anger only increases anger” - The Buddha
This quote was in response to another man of a different religion who visited the Buddha and his disciples. There, with his disciples present, he mocked the Buddha, insulting him and putting him down. All the while, the Buddha sat quietly, not saying one word. After the man left, the Buddha’s disciples asked him why he said nothing to a man who was clearly out of line. The Buddha responded with the above quote, stating that we should always see our anger as only a hindrance. At times, we feel the need to yell back or to reciprocate any evils that we are given. We view our anger as a right. Many times, we hear people tell each other, “You had a right to be angry!” However, whether or not your anger is justified does not reduce its ability to hinder you.
The Buddha elaborated on this, stating that one’s anger stops one from seeing clearly. If we are without anger, than we can truly listen.
The monk’s teachings came at a time when I needed to hear them most, which just goes to show the serendipity of the world. The Buddha delivers to you what you need when you need it, and we should never lose faith in that.