Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verses 88-89

Transglomeration: [88] Also, even if you yourself did bring about the occasion of another’s suffering as you wished, what is there in that for you to be happy about?   And if you said, “in this way, then, I shall be satisfied”, then you will definitely have created detriment and downfall for yourself for long into the future: oh, what could be more fallen and wretched than that!   [89] These viciously sharp hooks cast by the kleśa-fishermen – these turbulent thoughts, these hateful emotions – and you, o pitiful mind, have been snagged on them again and again – net-loads of you – where you will inevitably be turned over to the guards of hell as raw ingredient, to be cooked-alive in the cauldrons there over and over again.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 86 others’ [enemy’s] unhappiness is not of your making and none of your business
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 88-89 … and just wishing ill on others is self-detrimental

Metaphors: [89] fishermen: kleśas; fishing-hook: instances of anger; guardians of hell: being completely out of control over one’s destiny in the future – the victim; cooked in cauldrons: burning in the very fire that comprised one’s anger


  • these verses widen the consideration of anger to more than just the expressed rage which is generally understood by the word ‘anger’ – agghhh! – and also the peevish/jealous anger explored in verses 52-86, by including, now, the ‘anger’ of ill-will: the simmering hate of someone, the wishing something bad would happen to someone, the hoping that they mess-up, the delight when they do mess up, the spitefulness in kicking someone when they’re down, the ‘dishing the dirt’ simply because it makes you feel good;
  • this attitude is better described by the words ‘hate’ and ‘spite’ but is nonetheless as destructive as rage, even if not necessarily expressed; and this attitude, this ill-will, is a sordid little karma “attracting every kind of misfortune like a magnet drawing iron to itself” (Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech, p. 220)
  • the inevitability of those destructive results coming back to you, who ‘cooked’ that bile and perverse satisfaction in your heart, is that you will come to cook, yourself, in your very own juices, when the whole array of causes and conditions into which you threw your petty bile play themselves out way beyond your current little tantrum, and way beyond, even, your present lifetime, and you find yourself (that same bitter little self that felt satisfied at others’ discomfort) in that same acid and shred that you once indulged in, only now magnified, because the effects of your bile rippled out into the world, far beyond your supposed ‘enemy’, before it came back to bite you;
  • and why is it so inevitable, why is anger so destructive (as per verse 1): because anger, however it is expressed, is the ultimate in denial of cause and conditionality, any anger or hate, expressed outwardly or not, is triggered when we don’t get what is wanted, or when we get what is not wanted and in both situations not accepting what the situation actually is;
  • what one wants (or doesn’t want) and what actually is, are often two different things, and, more often than not we don’t accept that; the world will continue tumbling on in its whole cascade of causes and conditionality, and here we are, getting angry, saying ‘no’, and then acting despite it; and this perverse acting-despite-it, whether just mental or acted-out, is a spanner in the works of cause and conditionality that creates its own jams and knots in what is happening in the whole world, which won’t go away and which won’t get resolved by themselves – that ‘spanner’ stays right where it was, knotting all sorts of other things up, and there’s only one person in the whole universe who is going to be able to get that spanner out, and look at him – still fulminating …
  • and eventually, you find yourself, and the whole world in which you currently live, as one of those strands caught in some pinch, that same ‘pinch’ you created way back when, except you don’t recognise who created that pinch (you’ve passed way beyond that and ignored so much in order to keep yourself stable: oh, blind physician – heal thyself, heal thyself), so you’ll probably create, there and then, a fresh new enemy to hate and do battle with, quite despite, and in denial of … cause and conditionality;
  • and these ‘guardians of hell’ aren’t yet other beings that you will need to make enemies of, they are the sickness and the foulness and the enormity and the inexorability of you yourself – magnified and nurtured by those ‘snags’, those initial little bits of hate you threw into the world, which tangled everyone else’s causes and conditions, compounding them ever more as you deny what has been done and as you make it ever-more the enemy (Geshe Kelsang refers to them as “karmically created guardians”), so that those snags eventually come back to you, seemingly out of nowhere, and they corner you into a position which you are powerless to evade, and these ‘positions’ are slavering and merciless, they soften you up with cudgels, they slice you with their blades, you cannot get away;
  • and here you are, creating snags by the second …

Reflection: if you go the full weight behind wishing others harm – whether you actually cause harm as well, or not – is like the certainty of being a fish caught on the sharp hook of anger, you will be drawn out of the ‘water’ and be burnt alive in a skillet; inevitable; Sanskrit observes that there will be an inevitable (karmic) follow-on from wishing ill to others, Tibetan observes that if you sadistically enjoy the harm that others have, what could be lower than that

Practice: recognise your part in all of cause and conditionality, take responsibility for your part in cause and conditionality; every time you act … stop creating snags every time you do, say or think something, and start combing