Life as a very junior monk in Thailand seemed so unfair. The senior monks received the best food, sat on the softest cushions and never had to push wheelbarrows. Whereas my one of the day was disgusting; I had to sit for long hours in ceremonies on the hard concrete floor ( which was lumpy as well, because the villagers were hopeless at laying concrete); and sometimes i had to labor very hard. Poor me, Lucky them.
I spent long, unpleasant hours justifying my complaints to myself. The senior monks were probably so enlightened that delicious food would be wasted on them, therefore I should get the best food. The senior monks had been sitting cross legged on hard floors for years and were used to it, therefore i should get the big soft cushions. Moreover, the senior monks were all fat anyway, from eating the best food, so had “natural upholstery” to their butts. The senior monks just told us junior monks to do the work, never laboring themselves, so how could they appreciate how hot and tiring pushing wheelbarrows was? The projects were all their ideas anyway, so they should do the work! Poor me, lucky them.
When i become senior monk, then i ate the best food, sat on a soft cushion and did little physical work. However, i caught myself envying the junior monks. They didn’t have to give all the public talks, didn’t listen to people’s problem all day, and didn’t spend hours on administration. They had no responsibilities and so much time for themselves. I heard myself saying, “Poor me, lucky them!”
I soon figured out what was going on. Junior monks have “junior monks suffering.” Senior monks have “senior monk suffering.” When i became a senior monk, i was just exchanging one form of suffering for another form of suffering.
It is precisely the same for single people who envy those who are married, and for married people who envy those who are single. As we all should know by now, when we get married, we are only exchanging “single person’s suffering” for “married person’s suffering.” Then when we get divorced, we are only exchanging “married person’s suffering” for “single person’s suffering.” Poor me, lucky them.
When we are poor, we envy those who are rich. However, many who are rich envy the sincere friendships and freedom from responsibilities of those who are poor. Becoming rich is only exchanging “poor person’s suffering” for “rich person’s suffering.” retiring and taking a cut in your income is only exchanging “rich person’s suffering.” for “poor person’s suffering.” And so it goes on. Poor me, lucky them.
To think that you will be happy by becoming something else is delusion. Becoming something else just exchanges one form of suffering for another form of suffering. But when you are content with who you are now, junior or senior, married or single, rich or poor, then you are free of suffering.
Lucky me, poor them !
"Someone calls you an idiot. Then you start thinking, ‘How can they call me an idiot? They’ve got no right to call me an idiot! How rude to call me an idiot! I’ll get them back for calling me an idiot.’ And you suddenly realize that you have just let them call you an idiot another four times.
"Every time you remember what they said, you allow them to call you an idiot again. Therein lies the problem.
"If someone calls you an idiot and you immediately let it go, then it doesn’t bother you. There is the solution.
Why allow other people to control your inner happiness?