Once, when the Buddha was still alive, his opponents hired some people to curse him and Venerable Ãnanda when they were out on their alms round. “You camels. You skinheads. You beggars,” – that’s what they say in the texts. Venerable Ãnanda got all upset and asked the Buddha to go to another city – a city where they wouldn’t get cursed, a city where they wouldn’t get criticised.
The Buddha asked him, “And what should we do, Ãnanda, if they curse us there?”
“Leave that city and go to another.”
“And if they curse us there, where are you going to go? If you keep running away from wherever they curse you, in the end you won’t have a world left to live in.”
“This is why it is not right to run away from your enemies by escaping from one place and going to another. The only right way to escape is to be aware in your heart and escape into your heart. If you’re sharp enough to contend with the enemies in your heart, your outside enemies won’t mean a thing. You can live where you like and go where you like with no trouble at all.”
This is how you straighten out your life – by straightening out your heart. If they say good things about you, how does your mind zip out to react? If they say bad things, how does it react? As soon as they’ve said those things, the breath with which they said them is past and gone. They say good things, and that breath is gone. They say bad things, and that breath is gone – but the breath of the thoughts that get formed in our mind, that doesn’t go. Our attachments and assumptions will hold it right here and then burn us right here with all the smouldering thoughts we keep stirring up.
This reflection by Luang Ta Maha Boowa is from the book, A Life of Inner Quality, “Straightening out the Heart,” translated into English by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu.