A good friend of mine died in January. From time to time I get to thinking about things he used to say. Little bits of wisdom, whether they appeared as such or just talk. One of the things he used to say when someone expressed their anger at a situation was “Oh well, it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.” Literally meaning it is better to be angry than to be urinated upon.
And I get what he was doing. He was saying whatever just happened could be a LOT worse. Almost anyone would agree that they’d rather the former than the latter. Interestingly this little couplet of my friends’ brings with it a situation wherein the first may very well be the direct result of the second.
From what I have learned in Hinduism, about karma, etc., I am starting to wonder if the above-quoted aphorism was accurate. First and foremost you never want your inner peace to be dictated by outside forces. However the whole point of living a spiritual life is NOT to come to a state wherein you will suffer any disgrace that may befall you. Ahimsa is not about letting the world trample all over you. But there is a proper response for everything. In this case the response to the latter does not have to be anger. And I am certainly not saying that I would rather the latter than the former. BUT I think the misfortune and discomfort of the latter is little compared to what one can do to oneself, to infect one’s immediate environment by allowing oneself to become angry. To allow getting “pissed off” to become a way of life, a conditioned response. Of course there is such a thing as “righteous indignation”, or being “pissed off” for a rightful cause. And I think being defiled in such a way may be one of those times. You don’t just let someone go around doing that in a civilized society.
Something to think about. We all tend to have a mental hierarchy of goodness and badness of all possible things. But Hinduism has turned a lot of my conditioned hierarchies of thought on their head, and this just might be one of them. Depending on how long I think about it.