Ten Ways to Eliminate Resentment AN 10.80

Dear all
I was discussing with another person this Sutta, and we had two different interpretations about it. The Sutta says

“Mendicants, there are these ten methods to get rid of resentment. What ten? Thinking: ‘They harmed me, but what can I possibly do?’ you get rid of resentment. Thinking: ‘They are harming me …’ … ‘They will harm me …’ … ‘They harmed someone I love …’ … ‘They are harming someone I love …’ ‘They will harm someone I love …’ … They helped someone I dislike …’ … ‘They are helping someone I dislike …’ … Thinking: ‘They will help someone I dislike, but what can I possibly do?’ you get rid of resentment. And you don’t get angry for no reason. These are the ten ways of getting rid of resentment.”

SuttaCentral

I have understood the “what can I possibly do?” as part of letting go and the fact that one will take time to reflect that we are just a pile of elements and hence empty, so nothing needs to be done but observe and move on. My friend insisted that the Sutta suggests we must ponder what to do for those cases and find solutions. By finding a solution, the person will not experience resentment.

Now I’m afraid I have to disagree with his point since in all other suttas in which the Buddha speaks of how to avoid resentment, it is clear that the focus is on the mind of whom is feeling the irritation rather than trying to act to “correct” the “wrong” which caused one’s mind to experience resentment.

If I am correct in my assumption, this is an example of how selective use of single suttas (without checking the others discussing similar context) may bring to do actions that may aggravate one’s kamma.
Anyway, just checking if my interpretation was in the right direction
Thanks :pray:

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The phrase “What can I possibly do?” is the translation of taṁ kutettha labbhā in pali. The sentence itself is repeatedly represented in the famous Mahāparinibbānasutta(DN16):

But the deities who are free of desire endure, mindful and aware, thinking:
Yā pana tā devatā vītarāgā, tā satā sampajānā adhivāsenti:
‘Conditions are impermanent. How could it possibly be otherwise?’”
‘aniccā saṅkhārā, taṁ kutettha labbhā’”ti.

DN 16: Mahāparinibbānasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (suttacentral.net)

Given the very theme of DN16, it seems that your friend’s hypothesis, of trying to do something, is unlikely. Maybe your friend might be aware of ’ the first’ sutta of getting rid of resentment (AN5.161) in which the Buddha teaches five methods of behavior to do subdue resentment, and that is the reason he insisted so:

You should develop love for a person you resent. That’s how to get rid of resentment for that person.
You should develop compassion for a person you resent. …
You should develop equanimity for a person you resent. …
You should disregard a person you resent, paying no attention to them. …
You should apply the concept that we are the owners of our deeds to that person

AN 5.161: Paṭhamaāghātapaṭivinayasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (suttacentral.net)

On your hypothesis (esp. regarding emptiness), I do not know enough to answer clearly. Yet it gives me a vibe that is similar to various ways of eradicating anger represented in Visuddhimagga or Bodhicaryāvatāra.

6.25 Whatever transgressions and evil deeds of various kinds there are, all arise through the power of conditioning factors, while there is nothing that arises independently.
6.31 In this way everything is dependent upon something else. Even that thing upon which each is dependent is not independent. Since, like a magic display, phenomena do not initiate activity, at what does one get angry like this?

(Bodhicaryāvatāra, translated by Crosby and Skilton)

I am not sure, but I suspect that perhaps the meaning is much similar to that of another famous verse in Bodhicaryāvatāra:

6.10 If there is a solution, then what is the point of dejection? What is the point of dejection, if there is no solution?

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I have very little to add to @FelixC’s excellent answer other than to point out the Sabbasava Sutta which has us separate things into what we can (try) to do something about, and problems we just have to learn to accept. I think usually, when it comes to other people, we can’t do much to control them so typically such problems require the equanimity and letting go you were advocating… But to your friend’s credit, there are some occasions where, with a little reflection, … oops! I was contributing to that conflict! :grimacing: So, a little circumspection is always helpful to make sure your “letting go” doesn’t become “spiritual bypassing.” :slightly_smiling_face:

[Edit: only just saw that this was 6 months ago! Oops!]

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Holding thread - pl don’t contribute

Equanimity is invariably seized upon by beginners as the answer to all situations, probably because it provides an alternative to the work ethic they have been used to. But the Buddhist view of equanimity is it has an agenda, the removal of stress and is to be used judiciously (MN 101). More often than not right effort has to be employed. The removal of stress is motivated by desire, it is not an equanimous pursuit. Dispassion, an attitude leaning toward aversion is the thing capable of uprooting all forms of stress, and in evaluating situations leads to wisdom. The detachment of dispassion can be frightening for beginners as it takes them beyond the security of conventional reality.

“One does not get worked up over impossibilities.”—AN 10.80

It is unreasonable to expect the uninstructed ordinary person to act not subject to unwholesome tendencies, as anger and desire are the polarities of samsara which is all they know. With this knowledge the practitioner must skillfully negotiate situations.

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The previous discourse is drawing on the same theme lists 10 grounds for harboring resentment;

“Mendicants, there are ten grounds for resentment. What ten? Thinking: ‘They did wrong to me,’ you harbor resentment. Thinking: ‘They are doing wrong to me’ … ‘They will do wrong to me’ … ‘They did wrong by someone I love’ … ‘They are doing wrong by someone I love’ … ‘They will do wrong by someone I love’ … ‘They helped someone I dislike’ … ‘They are helping someone I dislike’ … Thinking: ‘They will help someone I dislike,’ you harbor resentment. You get angry for no reason. These are the ten grounds for resentment.”

Buddha has said that one shouldn’t think about what others have or haven’t done but rather about we ourselves have or haven’t done.

I think that the point is not to ruminate on other people’s bad qualities because that will infuriate us and become the inclination of the mind due to a frequent giving of attention.

It’s analog to Dhp verses;

3. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.
4. “He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.
5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

I think we should keep in mind that harboring resentment is harmful to us and whilst being intent on the highest good, without sacrificing our own welfare, we should remember that by protecting ourselves we will protect others & that by protecting others we will protect ourselves.

Suppose a person harmed us, we might get angry and contemplate revenge. If we then stop to think about the laws of kamma, our actions we might realize that we probably deserved it somehow.

Furthermore we might realize that we don’t really want to punish the person, because we don’t want to be punished and causing them pain would make us go out of our [spiritual] way in order to inflict that pain.

We might realize that ideally we would much rather the person become a kind person, repent their causing harm, even become an Arahant and teach us the Dhamma so that we too can become end-makers.

Thinking thus we might decide to leave them alone because being left alone they might get closer to calming down and we get to calm down focusing on our development, not going out of our way to do some stupid things based on delusion.

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I think this is similar to what is stated in Honeyball Sutta that Buddha do not quarrel with the world. It probably means thoughts of quarrel originates from within so it can also ceased from within. Same for thoughts of resentment.