Are You Blaming Others for Your Misfortune?

I didn’t have much experience flying before I came to Los Angeles. Once my flight to Japan took a long time to take off due to bad weather. My arrival time in Tokyo was 10:30 pm. If the flight were to be delayed, I would have to miss the last train and as a result would have no choice but to stay one night at the airport. My schedule the next day would naturally change. I remember getting upset at the captain who was making the announcement over the loudspeaker and holding a grudge against the cabin attendants who were passing by me. Who chose such an airline and that very flight? I completely forgot that it was I. I reflected on myself and felt ashamed to find out that the only thing that occupies my mind is to point blames at others. “All too often, when faced with difficulties, we cope by searching for someone else to blame for our suffering.” This passage in the following story deeply resonated with me. Let’s read Unshakable Spirit together.

This happened once when I was riding a train on my way to give a speech. The car interior was spacious and quiet, with many unfilled seats. Feeling relaxed, I spread myself out and opened up a book I’d brought along. After a while, tired from reading and lulled by the rhythmical vibrations of the train, I began to nod off—only for my dreams to be shattered by an ear-splitting whistle and the metallic screech of brakes. Apparently the driver had found an obstruction of some kind at a crossing.

The shock of the sudden stop threw me forward, but I managed somehow to stay upright. In the same instant, the shrill sobs of a little child rang out. I saw then that the seats across the aisle in front of me were occupied by a young mother and her child, who had apparently been amusing himself by sitting with his forehead pressed against the windowpane, watching the scenery fly by. When the train jerked to a stop, the tot’s head banged sharply into the window frame. His wails grew louder and more frantic. Afraid he was hurt, I jumped up, but to my relief there was no sign of injury. Then I witnessed a scene so heartwarming that I was deeply touched.

As the child’s pain lessened, he gradually quieted down while his mother rubbed his head reassuringly and murmured soothing words: “Sweetheart, that must really hurt. I’m so sorry. I’ll rub it for you and make the pain go away. But you know, you weren’t the only one who got hurt. The poor window frame did too! Let’s rub it and make it feel better, shall we?” The tot nodded, and sure enough, he and his mother together began to pat the window frame. I felt ashamed of myself, for I had assumed she would say something more on these lines: “That must really hurt. I’m so sorry. It’s all the fault of this naughty window frame. Let’s spank it and teach it a lesson, shall we?” Such a scene is common enough, giving a toddler a vent for his rage and allowing the moment to pass.

All too often, when faced with difficulties, we cope by searching for someone else to blame for our suffering. Perhaps, I reflected, we parents implant this response in our children without meaning to. The child is father of the man, goes the saying, and surely parents have enormous influence in shaping the character of small children.

People who think only of themselves and cannot empathize with others, end in the darkness. The act of making others happy itself brings happiness. Those who would set their sights on the Pure Land must keep to the high road of benefiting others as well as themselves.

I left the train wishing true happiness to that mother and child with all my heart.

(Unshakable Spirit, “The Window Frame Hurts Too” A Winsome Mother and Child, page 46)

Satoshi Hasegawa, Satoshi's Book Club

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #24 | 2013, Are You Blaming Others for Your Misfortune?

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