Cathy, a good-natured, hardworking and sincere young woman, was tormented by slanderous comments that people were making about her. Depressed, she went to seek a senior, Harry, for encouragement. Needed to let her steam out and a shoulder to cry on. Harry lived a simple life, deep in the conrete jungle.
After listening to Cathy, he said, ‘Let’s take a walk to the river over there, very refreshing place, and can you help me bring along the bucket and a ladle?’ Cathy knew he was up to something, like to beat around the bush to make a point. She kept her cool. There wasn’t much of a choice anyway.
On the way to the river, Harry plucked a leaf and tossed it in the bucket. ‘Look, you are like this leaf,’ said Harry. Puzzled, Cathy looked hard observing the leaf. ‘I am?? Okay… And your point being?’
‘The leaf is pure and fresh, and have done no wrong or harm anyone. Yet it is lying at the bottom of life’s bucket. You have sunk miserably to the bottom of the bucket,’ Harry explained. Cathy sighed heavily. That’s true.
When they arrived at the river banks, Harry placed the bucket close to the river and use the ladle to scoop some water and pour it into the bucket. The leaf tossed and turned, but eventually floated on top. Then, he pours another and another. The bucket is three quater full now. ‘This (pointing to the water in the ladle) is another verbal attack, intended to knock you down completely,’ said Harry. The water sloshed fiercely inside the bucket again, but the leaf remain pure and fresh, just floated closer to the top of the bucket.
‘It would be even better if we could have more criticism and slander,’ commented Harry. Cathy is confused again. Really? As Harry poured more water, the water eventually overflowed and both of them watch the leaf floated out of the bucket with the excess water, and serenely floating down the river.
‘All the nasty lies and slander didn’t damage the leaf. Instead, they have helped the leaf to be released from the bucket. And now, the leaf can drift into the river and even the sea, to a much bigger world,’ Harry said. A bright smile came to Cathy’s beautiful face and the heavy gloom that she had been carrying seems to be lifted.
Cathy exclaimed with excitement, ‘I understand now. Slander help to cleanse all the impurities in our hearts and motivates us to grow stronger. This is what it means by truning poison into medicine.’
‘You have learnt well, my child. Wonderful! Actually, I was about to quote from Spider-man what does not kill you makes you stronger. But I guess, poison to medicine can also la. Now, let’s go back, I buy you coffee.’
In uneasy times like today, there are many allegations and counter allegations thrown at each other from both sides. Some have merits, others baseless. At times, it got ugly and base, like unfair name calling, spreading rumour and defamation. Often, these allegations have nothing to do with the actual issues involved.
Whatever it is, it is important that we do allow it to overwhelm us or react with anger. Even to the extent of scorching our seeds of Buddhahood. Rather, we must try to look at the criticisms objectively, taking out the venom at each one, and judge it purely on its merits. If there is truth in it, accept it and thank the other party. This is a great area to carry out our human revolution. If there is none, ignore it. If necessary, we can inform the other party that the accusation is untrue and it is creating bad karma to vilify a person. If situation get hostile, keep a distance. Safe distance. Regard it as water poured into the bucket.
There are, we believe, both peaceful people and aggressive hawks from either side. Peaceful people will listen and discuss with reasons in a cordial and civilized manner, yet remain good friends whether they agree or disagree. Also, they do not simply spread hearsay before verifying it. Aggressive hawks, on the other hand, made up their mind that others are out to ruin the organization before even listening, want to teach others a lesson, very sure that others will fall into Avichi hell, and feel that it is best for anyone who ask question to leave the organization all together.
Don’t descend into their level. Whether we agree or disagree with someone, we must respect them as a human being, a precious children of the Buddha. This is what Mr Ikeda taught day and night – Treasure each person because each and every person is irreplaceable, unique and precious.
And Itai Doshin (many in body one in mind) clearly states that we are of different minds and not everyone has to agree all the time. Rather, it is our ability to respect each other differences, transcend them and still be able to work together in kosen-rufu. This is the meaning of one mind.