Archive for September 6th, 2009

(30 November extract from  “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie, 1990 Hazelden foundation)

One day my son brought a gerbil home to live with us.  We put it in a cage.  Some time later the gerbil escaped.  For the next six months the animal ran frightened and wild through the house.  So did we – chasing it.

“There it is.  Get it!” we’d scream each time someone spotted the gerbil.  I, or my son, would throw down whatever we were working on, race across the house and lunge at the animal, hoping to catch it.

I worried about it even when we didn’t see it.  “This isn’t right,” I’d think.  “I can’t have a gerbil running loose in the house.  We’ve got to catch it.  We’ve got to do something.”

A small animal the size of a mouse had the entire household in a tizzy.

One day, while sitting in the living room, I watched the animal scurry across the hallway.  In a frenzy I started to lunge at it, as I usually did, then I stopped myself.

No, I said.  I’m all done.  If that animal wants to live in the nooks and crannies of this house, I’m going to let it.  I’m done worrying about it.  I’m done chasing it.  It’s an irregular circumstance, but that’s just the way it’s going to have to be.

I let the gerbil run past without reacting.  I felt slightly uncomfortable with my new reaction – not reacting – but I stuck to it anyway.

I got more comfortable with my new reaction – not reacting.  Before long I became downright peaceful with the situation.  I had stopped fighting the gerbil.  One afternoon, only weeks after I started practising my new attitude, the gerbil ran by me, as it had so many times, and I barely glanced at it.  The animal stopped in its tracks, turned around and looked at me.  I started to lunge at it.  It started to run away.  I relaxed.

“Fine,” I said.  “Do what you want.”  And I meant it.

One hour later the gerbil came and stood by me and waited.  I gently picked it up and placed it in its cage, where it has lived happily ever since.  The moral of the story?  Don’t lunge at the gerbil.  He’s already frightened, and chasing him just scares him more and makes us crazy.

Detachment works.


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One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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Buddha explained how to handle insult and maintain compassion.

One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. “You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.”

Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

“If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.”

The young man listened closely to these wise words of the Buddha. “You are right, o Enlightened One, “he said. “Please teach me the path of love. I wish to become your follower.”

Buddha answered kindly, “Of course. I teach anyone who truly wants to learn. Come with me.”

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