The principle of cause and effect and how it affects our everyday lives.
It all started with an ordinary everyday situation. I was going to a meeting with my Buddhist friends to meditate together.
I had to go for gas before and parked my car in such a way that the tank opening was in the same height with the gas pump. While I was filling up and the Euro display was rattling, I noticed how another vehicle drove from the front past my car to the gas pump next to me.
The driver, around 50 in jeans and a brown corduroy jacket, got out of the car and shouted loudly and angrily in my direction, “You sure drove far ahead, I almost didn’t get around there!”. Do you always do that – block people’s way? After all, I don’t have all the time in the world!” He sounded very upset and aggressive. Somehow he reminded me of the “Seewolf”, a movie character from the 70s. I wasn’t aware of any guilt and being shouted at so loudly, I felt rather distressed and anything but comfortable! Quite a bit of anger rose up in me, “What is the matter with you?” I thought and felt completely wronged.
How five words can save the day
I was just about to express my own anger at him and rumble back properly, to show him that he was wrong, when suddenly something else surfaced, namely, the desire not to do exactly that, because it would only bring forth more anger. In me and in him. I still wondered about myself when I heard myself say with deep sincerity: “I’m very sorry about that.” From one second to the next, the atmosphere changed. And the amazing thing was – he reacted immediately and looked for the cause in himself: “Maybe I drove too big a curve and therefore didn’t get around so well” he grumbled, my “Seewolf” was already a bit friendlier. The aggressive mood from the beginning dissolved in a flash.
I vow not to become angry, but to be harmonious
Now we understood each other. We are two people at a gas station and now we are even allies, I thought with relief. At that moment happiness rose up in me and gratitude for the power that had shown me the correct way in this situation. My Buddhist vow, “I vow not to become angry, but to be harmonious,” materialised just then. It worked in me and steered me in the right direction at the crucial moment. We nodded to each other in a friendly manner and returned to our real intention, which was to refuel our cars.
For me, this situation is a good example of what we can do as individuals to make this world a more peaceful place. Yet the story could have ended quite differently. We could have had a real fight. Then we both would have carried our anger from this gas station to our fellow human beings. The pent-up anger might have ignited many other fires.
What we do is what we get
What we do is what we get. Our actions are decisive. As a Buddhist, I am familiar with this as the principle of cause and effect. All are connected and All is One. The man at the gas station and I are also connected. Buddha taught: Hate is never defeated by hate, but only by love and compassion. That’s exactly what I could feel that day at the gas station.
Our world is in dire need of peace. We cannot change the whole world here and now, but we can certainly create peace ourselves. No matter what religion we belong to, we can treat our fellow human beings as we ourselves would like to be treated. Sometimes it takes no more than five words! Saying “I’m very sorry about that.” can work a small miracle.
Perhaps you too will experience a situation in which you make the decision to lay down your arms, to take a step back and thus bring a little peace into this world.