I read the following parable "Retold from an ancient Buddhist story by Nyanaponika Thera." on the DHARMATALKING Column on the site that houses the article about Thomas Merton and Buddhism. What with guests and day trips and parties and issues with kids unique to a bi-nuclear family...purchasing a new car...having Keith's 84 year old dad staying with us for the week...a trip back to Ontario to take him home etc. etc. etc. I have been somewhat lax with posting. So consider this is a bonus post!!
I was struck by the similarity of the anger eating demon in this story and the pain body...Eckhart Tolle's term for the "entity" that lives within all of us in varying degrees. An entity that awakens now and then to feed on negative energy....doing whatever is necessary to provoke others to anger...to arouse their pain bodies so it can feed on their anger and negative energy. It is, indeed, sometimes a monster....just like the one in the story. And when two pain bodies clash, watch out!!
In this particular column there is also a short story called The Reviler...a tale about a man, a Brahman of the Bharadvaja clan, who is royally ticked because one of his clan became a monk "under the recluse Gotama." He went to where the Buddha was and reamed him out. To which Buddha ultimately replied:
"Brahman: you revile us who do not revile in return, you scold us who do not scold in return, you abuse us who do not abuse in return. So we do not accept it from you and hence it remains with you, it belongs to you, Brahman..."
Sort of like water off of a duck's back. Offense meant but none taken. Proof of another tired and trite ditty....it takes two to argue.
Or as the Bible says:
Proverbs 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV)
Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. (NAS)
Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. (NAS)
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quickly angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of a fool. (DRB)
Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly (NAS)
And now the story, copied and pasted below....
ONCE THERE LIVED A DEMON who had a peculiar diet: he fed on the anger of others. And as his feeding ground was the human world, there was no lack of food for him. He found it quite easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national and racial hatred. Even to stir up a war was not very difficult for him. And whenever he succeeded in causing a war, he could properly gorge himself without much further effort; because once a war starts, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people.
So the demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from over-eating, being content with nibbling just a small piece of resentment found close-by.
But as it often happens with successful people, he became rather overbearing and one day when feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the gods?" On reflection he chose the Heaven of the Thirty-three Deities, ruled by Sakka, Lord of Gods.
He knew that only a few of these gods had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion, though they were far above petty and selfish quarrels. So by magic power he transferred himself to that heavenly realm and was lucky enough to come at a time when Sakka the Divine King was absent. There was noone in the large audience hall and without much ado the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne, waiting quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a good feed.
SOON SOME OF THE GODS came to the hall and first they could hardly believe their own divine eyes when they saw that ugly demon sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Having recovered from their shock, they started to shout and lament: "Oh you ugly demon, how can you dare to sit on the throne of our Lord? What utter cheekiness! What a crime! you should be thrown headlong into the hell and straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Begone! Begone!"
But while the gods were growing more and more angry, the demon was quite pleased because from moment to moment he grew in size, in strength and in power. The anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze from his body as a smoky red-glowing mist. This evil aura kept the gods at a distance and their radiance was dimmed.
Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall and it grew into a dazzling light from which Sakka emerged, the King of Gods. He who had firmly entered the undeflectible Stream that leads Nibbana-wards, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke-screen created by the gods' anger parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne.
"Welcome, friend! Please remain seated. I can take another chair. May I offer you the drink of hospitality? Our Amrita is not bad this year. Or do you prefer a stronger brew, the vedic Soma?"
While Sakka spoke these friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank to a diminutive size and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved
THE GIST OF THIS STORY dates back to the discourses of the Buddha. But even now, over 2500 years later, our world looks as if large hordes of Anger-eating Demons were haunting it and were kept well nourished by millions slaving for them all over the earth. Fires of hate and wide-traveling waves of violence threaten to engulf mankind. Also the grass roots of society are poisoned by conflict and discord, manifesting in angry thoughts and words and in violent deeds.
Is it not time to end this self-destructive slavery of man to his impulses of hate and aggression which only serve the demoniac forces? Our story tells how these demons of hate can be exorcised by the power of gentleness and love. If this power of love can be tested and proven, at grass-root level, in the widely spread net of personal relationships, society at large, the world at large, will not remain unaffected by it.
-- Story based on Samyutta Nikaya, Sakka Samyutta, No. 22