The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Tuesday July 21, 2015
The second of a multi-part commentary on an ancient Indian proverb discusses the virtues of compassion, good conduct, and taming anger. Check out part one here.
Compassion, conduct, anger
He who purifies himself in the river of a subdued spirit, the waters of which are truth, its waves compassion, and its shores excellent temper and conduct, will be liberated from this world; but liberation cannot be obtained by just outward observances.
-Ancient Indian proverb
The waves of the purifying waters are the difficult virtue of compassion. Is it easier to condemn those you disagree with, and your enemies, or to have compassion on them? Once again, it takes hard mental and emotional work to have compassion, work that we too often lack today. Yet the more you focus on having compassion, especially for your enemies, the happier you'll be mentally. It's all part of subduing the mind. Only after it is subdued can there be any room for peace, which is why so few people have peace of mind today.
The shores of the purifying river are excellent temper and conduct. How easy it is to lose our temper. My mind immediately goes to driving: although I am not close to perfect, I tend to get angry at the slightest thing another driver does wrong. Even if I was a perfect driver, losing my temper does nothing but add unnecessary negativity to my life, which causes both mental and physical anguish. If I see the other as a brother or sister it becomes harder to lose my temper at them.
This is connected to the Christian concept of grace. Christians aren't called to love based on merit, but simply because each person is our brother and sister. God loves us for who we are, and as such we should do the same for those around us. When I lose my temper at another driver my heart rate goes up, I get angry, and I feel terrible. When I smile and laugh it off I always feel better about myself and the situation. This extends to any other time in my life when I can either get angry or stay calm.
“Excellent conduct” is somewhat relative to cultural and personal standards. In some cultures you're expected to take your shoes off upon entering a person's house; in others it's weird or gross. Regardless, there are plenty of things that fall into this category across cultures: treating people well, not lying, being presentable, being respectful. Cultures can differ on those things too, but there are parameters that are intrinsically set. Following your conscience is a good starting point but it can't end there – I'm sure Hitler followed his conscience, or at least fit his conscience to his hatred.
It's all a lot simpler than a convoluted explanation: be compassionate, control your anger, and be a good person.
Check out part III here.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.