Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 87

Transglomeration: And, even if your enemy should, at any point, encounter adversity and be harmed or made unhappy, what is there of benefit in it for you?   It’s not as if your joy and satisfaction over it can make it happen again, or more-so, and your just wishing harm does not directly cause it in the first place: your wishes cannot come about despite the laws of causality.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 12-86 patience with getting what we don’t want
↑ Embroidery ↓
V. 87-110 patience with the obstacles to getting what we want

Structure: there seem to be two parts to this verse: a. what is there to rejoice about in someone else’s unhappiness, b. the wishing of harm didn’t make it happen; both parts are emphasising that we have no causal connection with an enemy’s [adventitious] unhappiness, therefore there is no basis to augment the event with our creating the negativity of rejoicing in it (in which case we do then become causally involved by setting off whole new stands of hate and anger which will eventually return to ourselves); so there are two elements here: a. a person’s suffering, and b. our wish/response to their suffering; the mind of ill-will assumes an active agent in ‘a.’ – the person’s suffering, either through wishing it or rejoicing in it – when there isn’t any causal connection at all and there shouldn’t be any reaction as if there were causal agency; it’s just none of our business, and we needn’t make it so with our nastiness

Reflection: there seems to be an interesting double/triple-negative in the way this is expressed: our being angry (-‘ve) with what prevents (-‘ve) others from suffering (prospective –‘ve), rather than coming straight out with just saying that we are angry because others are happy, so that the emphasis is on the wishing or intention that others be unhappy rather than just being unhappy ourselves that others are happy … we are unhappy with misfortune NOT happening to others – ‘why doesn’t something BAD happen to them!’ – this being a type of anger that is the ‘ill-will’ of the ten non-virtuous actions; this is distinct from the earlier-described/explored anger engendered through jealousy; so this distinction (ill-will-anger rather than jealous-anger) is made first of all, but the main point of the verse is that it (the anger) doesn’t make misfortune happen, and that expressing it through ill-will doesn’t benefit us in any way – the ill-will of peevishly being annoyed that nothing bad is happening to others we dislike – just doesn’t make or produce anything good, it’s just zagged energy making our spirits, our psyches, raw, open and saw

Reflection: harm that has come to others won’t happen through our wishing it, and won’t worsen because we have rejoiced in it (but it will, if we communicate it, but then that would be yet another action on top of the first one, not supplementary to it); the Sanskrit text infers that rejoicing in others’ unhappiness wouldn’t make it happen again, the Tibetan text infers that mere wishing harm will not actually cause harm to another; either way (and both ways), it (the suffering of other/enemy) has got nothing to do with you because you didn’t cause it (it happened through conditions), there’s no satisfaction to be had, here, from ‘a job well done’

Personal Reflection: so allofasudden the Principal announced he was retiring for … reasons (not the least of which were the disrespectful and ‘account for yourself’ bullying ways in which he behaved), that same Principal who frustrated my creative contribution to teaching for decades … but the man must be sitting somewhere, sometimes, wondering what he had achieved, and wondering if the means he used to achieve it were the best ones, even if he does cover it over with becoming an inspector and thinking that he is still doing some good: he was caught up in his own tangled undergrowth of causal tendrils which reached their own fruitions because of his own behavioural conditions, I didn’t make anything happen to him – I was just yet another circumstance for him to ride roughshod over – and if I’m going to derive anything from this, then I must dampen the urge to rejoice, the urge to think of it as my vindication, and can, as I do, have pity for him, in time to relinquish even that