Thus spake the Buddha. But we keep focusing on others. We keep finding fault in others. The other person is bad. They are unholy. They are evil wrongdoers, robbing us of our rightful privilege. They are blocking our way to heaven. We need to correct them. But the result? Our sufferings grow—we are far from their end.
How many of us have experienced that?
History is proof that we have caused great sufferings because we have found faults in others and have tried to correct or win over them. We have fought gruesome wars. But we have never learned. We are all too keen on ostracizing and marginalizing 'those faulty people' so that we can enjoy ourselves. Others must be somehow sidelined so that we can protect our race, our class, our land, beliefs, scriptures, skin color, the shape of nose, and what not. So our fight is justified. The fights we fight and the wars we wage are right.
But are we ever happy? When we try to correct or defeat others, our miseries grow. As the Buddha says, winning only gives birth to hostility. Losing, one lies down in pain. Killing, you gain your killer. Conquering, you gain one who will conquer you. Insulting, you will gain one who will insult you; harassing, you will get one who will harass you. And so, through the cycle of action, he who has plundered gets plundered in turn, the Buddha adds.
We don’t hear many world leaders speak like that. Quite the contrary, we are constantly taught to teach others a good lesson. We are constantly taught to think us versus them, tit for tat, an eye for an eye. We need to correct others, because we are right and they are wrong.
A plain logic would be that something righteous should be right for all. If it is righteous, it should bring happiness to all. It should unify, not divide. If something brings pain to others, then pain remains in human experience. How can a righteous thing keep pain alive!
Nothing that puts others in pain can ever be righteous. It can't be holy if it teaches that a whole lot of people are evil just because their noses are a little bigger or smaller than ours. After all, who created all those people? Who are we to judge?
From a Buddhist perspective, the thought that we are right and the others wrong stems from a distorted view. It is due to misplaced associations. Instead of fixing others, it is better to fix yourself. Conquering others would not be the righteous way to happiness, but conquering your own imperfections and weaknesses would be. As the Buddha says: