Saturday, April 22, 2017

Self-Absorption and the Dharma

“People can seem like total jerks on the road. They can cut you off, drive dangerously, and be inconsiderate. This is challenging to deal with if their selfishness is directed intentionally at you. But even if it is, what does it ultimately have to do with you? Even if they are being completely confrontational, even if they have just sped up and cut you off and are screaming at you with veins bulging from neck and forehead, they have chosen you randomly.

“This means it has nothing to do with you. So why be reactive?

“Sam was actually making an error we all make at one time or another – the error of taking anything personally. The sad truth is that most people going through the day, actively pursuing their business, don’t have any idea you’re alive. Nothing is personal. They aren’t trying to wound you; they’re too busy protecting their own wounds. Often their behavior is unconscious. They are talking on the phone while driving, involved in an argument with their spouse, or overtired from working the late shift. You are incidental, inadvertently experiencing their ‘jerky behavior’ as a by-product of their inattention. It is only in referring every event back to “me” – what that person did to me, how they cut me off – that one’s personal suffering is created.”

- Arthur Jeon, City Dharma

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