All that is happening here is a disagreement between Angela & Maguru, and the disagreement concerns:
the extent to which one can choose one's emotional reaction to external situations.
Angela believes that the extent is very great. Maguru believes the extent is much smaller. That is all.
Personally I think that the extent varies greatly from individual to individual. One can however cultivate a greater capacity to choose one's emotions (and also thoughts) in response to external circumstances.
It is very difficult to say what kind of external conditions constitute "great suffering" or "minor suffering". It really depends on the individual. For example, we may think that it is a state of great suffering to be blind, yet the world has plenty of happy, blind people.
We may think that war represents great suffering, and yet every day there are people who commit suicide over problems like a failed relationship; or a lost job; or the lack of friends.
The fact that these people kill themselves over such matters could arguably suggest that they subjectively experienced GREATER suffering ....
.... than the millions of people who DID go through war, and fought hard to survive, and never committed suicide even though they COULD have.
Speaking of war stories, thought I'd share. This is an excerpt from my blog, where I'd written about my grandmother's war experiences: http://godot2007.blogspot.com/2007/1...-standing.html
Turned on the radio to cheer myself up, a very old song came up and suddenly made me think of my grandmother, moving me to tears. |
She was from Sarawak, East Malaysia. Married and had five kids. Then my grandfather left Sarawak to go to Singapore to work. No passenger planes in those days. Back in the 1930s/1940s it was a long way off and you had to take a primitive junk boat and sail for weeks through the perilous seas.
For a long time, there was no news from my grandfather (even the postal system was unreliable in those days). In the end, Grandma decided to pack her things and bring her kids to Singapore to look for her long-missing husband.
You can just imagine it - one woman, travelling with five kids to a strange land, not knowing anyone, not having much money, attempting to track down a missing husband.
To top it all off, the Second World War suddenly broke out when my grandma was in Singapore with her five kids. The Japanese invaded, the British lost, and tens of thousands of people were shot or beheaded and buried in mass graves.
My grandma took her 5 kids to hide in the jungle. She built a hut with her own bare hands. They scrounged for tapioca and bananas in the jungle, and tried to grew their own vegetables, collected firewood to make their own fire, drank rainwater. Bombs fell daily.
What a harsh life that must have been. Malaria, dysentery, dengue. And starvation.
My uncle - the oldest kid, probably nine or ten years old - occasionally stole food from a nearby Japanese warehouse. Once he got caught. The Japanese commander found out where he lived and brought his men to the little hut.
My grandmother thought that she and her kids were going to die. There was no escape. She came out of the hut and told the Japanese soldiers to kill her but spare her children.
Her courage impressed the Japanese commander. He bowed to her and left. Grandma and the children were left unharmed. Later that day, the Japanese commander instructed one of his soldiers to get a bag of rice and deliver it to the hut. From then on, every now and then, a Japanese soldier would bring a small bag of food to the hut and leave it by the doorstep. If he saw her, he would bow to her.
Many years later, my grandmother would tell me this story and conclude that "deep down inside, all people are good. Even the Japanese."
She was a very strong woman. She raised five children on her own, through the war years. All of them survived. After the war ended, she was reunited with my grandfather. They stayed on in Singapore and that is the story of how my family ended up here.
My father was one of the five wartime kids. By the time I was born, the war was, of course, old history. But I grew up with my grandmother and was very close to her. She was indeed an extremely strong woman. If things had to be done, they had to be done, and she would just do it. No complaints, no if's, no but's, no self-pity. To her, these were luxuries that she could not afford. And that was how she steered her family through all crises through the many years of her long life.
She was hardworking, determined, strong and she tolerated nonsense from no one - least of all, from herself.
When I was a little kid and afraid of things like the dark, ghosts, going to the toilet at night on my own and so on, Grandma would tell me lovingly, "Look at me, you silly boy, I am afraid of nothing, not even death. If you are bold, even ghosts will be afraid of you."
Today I think of my grandma and I am so proud of her and so ashamed of myself that a few tears are falling down my face as I type this. I am a silly boy and I still have a lot of growing up to do.