Whenever I meet a person of bad nature,
Who is overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
I will hold such a rare one dear,
As if I had found a precious treasure.
Usually when I see someone with a toughened expression, someone who doesn’t smile back when I smile, someone who’s short-tempered and always complaining, I want to stay away. I don’t want anything to do with that kind of person. I just want to ignore their remarks to the best of my ability and hope not to find myself alone with them.
But this verse from the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation is advising a radically different approach. If I think about the times when I’m grumpy and reactive, it certainly doesn’t feel good. It’s a really lousy state.
I can see, then, that someone who exhibits behaviors that I find repulsive or harmful is actually suffering themselves. The behavior I see is an outer expression of inner pain.
Why would I ignore such a person? Why should I hide from such a person? They’re in need of compassion! Besides, I have no idea what’s going on inside – maybe their spouse just got killed in a car accident. Maybe they were just diagnosed with a terminal illness. Maybe they just don’t know how to make themselves happy.
This person can be a great teacher of patience. Instead of becoming angry or afraid when I interact with them, I will remember that they’re under the influence of their own suffering and disturbing emotions. I’ll generate compassion, wishing that they be free from their misery. I’ll generate love, wishing that they find a way to think and act and speak towards others that brings them happiness.
Today, I will practice this verse. I’ll hold these rare individuals as dear friends, guiding me to grow in fortitude and compassion. This will aid me in my effort to overcome my own negative energy and suffering and to fulfill my infinite potential for good qualities. This dear one will help me to be of benefit to others, thus making everyone better off.