The 77% Weekly

The 40/52 weeks-a-year, spiritual-religious newsletter 

03/40 From Rabbi Brian

Meanness, Fire & Clouds

What follows is an e-mail exchange that I had with an ROTB reader.

on 1/3/12 6:19 PM, a*** wrote:

Subject: Meanness   
Rabbi Brian,
I would love to read your thoughts on meanness. Over the last several days I’ve had to deal with people that have been overly aggressive and mean to others, mostly over things that shouldn’t make a person react badly, or in my mothers case, going out of their way to say or do something mean.
Thank you.


on 1/7/12  wrote:
Subject: Re: Meanness    
Thanks for writing.
Here’s the best that I have, and it comes from a talk I heard by Pema Chodron (Don’t Bite The Hook) when she was discussing Shantideva‘s work on anger.
Fire is hot.
The sky has clouds.
I know, that seems ridiculous.
What the hell does that have to do with meanness?
Fire is HOT!
Well, that’s true.
Fire is hot.
It’s just how fire is.
I don’t know anyone who argues with fire for being hot.
I don’t know anyone who gets upset with fire for its quality of heat.
Fire is just hot.
That’s how it is.
And, the sky… There is no one that I have ever met who rails against the sky for sometimes having clouds.
We just accept that the sky has clouds in it.  That’s what it does.
And so, very confidently we can say,
Fire is hot.
The sky has clouds. 

Now, with regard to people… People can be mean, insensitive, and even cruel.  That’s just what people do.  It’s in the nature of people to not be kind, forthcoming, or self-responsible all of the time.  It’s just how people are.
If you can start to see it this way, it can take some of the sting out.  Your mother us just built that way – she will be mean from time to time.  Just like the sky will have clouds in it some days and even rain on others.
Nothing you can do about either… Except, maybe, bring an umbrella.

With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian 

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer is the founder of Religion-Outside-The-Box.

Shortly after he was ordained as a rabbi, he left mainstream congregational life to encourage people to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding) through podcasts, books, tweets, and internet-based seminars.  

His day job is teaching advanced mathematics to Los Angeleno High School students. The rest of the time is with his family. 

I have listened to this audio by Pema Chodron at least 25 times.  It is BRILLIANT.



Don’t Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger, Resentment, and Other Destructive Emotions


by Pema Chodron


Audio CD



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I thank you. -Rb 

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