Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VI– verse 31

Transglomeration: Thus, everything that happens is under influence of, subject to and governed by something else, and even those other governing factors, powers, causes, influences on which they are dependent are not autonomous: they are not self-controlled, they are not self-caused.   So, having understood this correctly, why, and how, could I get angry at things – people, the way things are, events, attitudes – that, like automatons, do not initiate activity themselves and move about like magical apparitions and phantoms.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 27-30 – there is no real universe or Self towards which to get angry
↑ Embroidery↓
V. 31 – everything is like an illusion – there is no worthy object of anger

Reflection: … because nothing (world or person) is self-sufficient in this (above-shown) way, there is nothing ‘solid’ to which to react, it all (all appearances, good or bad, in all their variety, in all their sight, sound, smell, taste, feel), are just myriad conjunctions and crossroads of a million shifting threads of causation like mist in the wind; Geshe Kelsang has emphasised, in his heading in Meaningful to Behold, that this verse is about curbing anger towards beings whereas all other translations have it as curbing anger towards all phenomena (although nevertheless-nevertheless it does mention in verse 22 that we don’t get angry with ‘things’ but usually only people – so Geshe-la’s bevel, here, is just a thread loop – up and over to be plainly seen – a reminder of what the whole sense of these verses is about: curbing anger … wherever it is directed);

Embroidery: the power of verse 31 would not be there if there hadn’t been a previous exploration that maybe there are some things which are not caused to which we can direct our anger; having cleared the mind that it is even possible for something un-caused to exist, then … the fact that things appear to exist that harm us is lessened by the fact that they must be illusory appearances, they cannot be truly existent, they cannot be true threats;

Reflection: easy to get attached to the idea that they are illusory/like phantoms, and let the conclusion rest there, thinking that all attacks and difficulties are wafting all about you and are insubstantial like ghosts passing through walls, passing through you: if you just stay with this idea, there is a tendency to think that the walls through which they pass are real, that the ‘you’ through which they pass is real; there is more to this verse than that, it is emphasising both that all things are dependent-arisings and that this fluid determinacy makes them ‘like’ phantoms (but doesn’t make them ‘transparent’ in an otherwise solid universe)

Practice: holding the understanding (Geshe Kelsang, ‘…remember to look at things in this light…’, Pema Chodron, ‘… see the absurdity…’), and therefore the experience of the understanding, that there is nothing (real) to get angry at …