When others, out of jealousy,
Mistreat me with abuse, slander, and so on,
I will practice accepting defeat
And offering the victory to them.
This verse is what I must practice in order to really overcome “spiritual materialism.”
It can be all well and dandy to meditate on love for all beings and to practice tolerance and compassion towards those who are afflicted by anger.
But how do I know if I’m just telling myself that I’ll abandon the attitude that’s concerned with my welfare above that of others? How do I know that I’m not faking it, making myself feel good by pretending to be a spiritual practitioner?
This instruction in mind training from the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation is the real litmus test. Today, I’ll watch my reactions when people criticize or slander me. Now, those terms are a little extreme. Even if someone mildly makes fun of me or heck, even if they just disagree with me – how do I react?
If I’m honest with myself, I’ll recognize that my usual reaction is to defend myself – or rather, to defend my ego. I make excuses for my faulty behaviors. I point out something the other person did wrong or even make up some fault that they don’t even have and attack them with it.
Or I don’t respond at all, but turn around, embarrassed, and go off smoldering, plotting what I will say to them on our next meeting to redeem myself and show them that they were wrong.
Today, I’ll challenge this deeply ingrained habit. This habit is closely intertwined with the ignorance that grasps at a self-existent self, imagining that there’s some solid core, or essence of “I,” within me.
In order to let down my automatic ego defenses, I’ll watch the various feelings that arise when I hear people say something I don’t like. Especially when I think someone’s words are directed towards me, I can get a very clear glimpse of the imaginary way in which ignorance believes I exist.
So, I’ll just let these experiences and feelings arise. I’ll regard the abuse, slander, and so on as my spiritual guides, pointing out to me the faults that I must abandon in order to become the type of person I want to be. I’ll enjoy the internal show of my emotional reactivity and sensitivity, without identifying with it.
I’ll remember that the other person is human being just like me, with the same types of feelings, and instead of defending myself and retaliating, I’ll accept defeat. After all, all that I’m losing is the self-centeredness that keeps me bound in a life of misery. I’ll offer the victory to others, realizing that by caring for the well-being of others, I win the greatest riches the world has to offer.