12(I have written on this quote before. But it’s worth revisiting.)

In my classroom on the wall, there is what seems at first like an absurd quote, but it is quite a poignant truth.

“Fire has heat, the sky has clouds.”

Like you, my students are initially unappreciative of the depth of this quote by
Shantideva

Let me explain.

“Fire has heat, the sky has clouds.”

“How, exactly, is this profound?” I hear you ask.

Imagine going to a Buddhist monk and asking,
-Why do people act the way they do?
-Why are people so selfish?
-Why are people so rude and arrogant?”
The answer: “That’s just how people are.”

Do you see the wisdom in that statement? It’s just how it is.

Do you resent fire for having heat? Do you get mad that sometimes the sky has clouds in it? Ought you get irritated because someone is just being themselves?

That’s just how it is.

This lesson is brilliant, but really hard to internalize.

Example: a few days ago, I got an email back from a woman with whom I teach; I had sent her a bureaucratic-type question and she emailed me back a diatribe that I was putting her out. She could have written, “I don’t know,” but instead WHAM! She let me have it. I thought, “Why is she treating me like that?” The first thought I had was not nice. Later I realized that she was doing this because this is what people do.

Because fire has heat, and the sky has clouds.

People will act badly. Things will happen that upset us. That’s just how life is. That’s how people are.

We oughtn’t spend time, energy, and effort being disappointed. Acceptance – which takes tons of practice – is a gift we can give ourselves.

This week’s spiritual-religious advice:
Accept what is.

With love,

rabbi_brian_name_written

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