YEARS AGO, a new aquaintance handed me his business card. On back, I read something like this:
“I have discovered that whenever I am angry or upset, there is something wrong with me.”
I have never forgotten that bit of wisdom. As time goes on, it makes more and more sense to me. The truth is that as long as I am blaming my life and my problems on others, I have relinquished my ability to act. If my anger is your fault, I can’t be happy until you change … and that can be a long time coming.
Thich Nhat Hahn calls them “gathas.” Short sayings appropriate to common occasions that can bring one back to center. For instance, upon awakening, Thay recommends:
“Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand-new hours before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
It occurs to me the idea of the gatha is germane to any practice. Christians, for instance, can apply Scripture for the same (back to remembrance) purpose. When I woke up this morning, I said this:
“ADONAI, in the morning you will hear my voice; in the morning I lay my needs before you and wait expectantly” (Psalms 5:4).
I could have well as used Psalm 118.24 or others. Today, I hope to be more aware of times where a bit of Wisdom could draw me back to remembering who I am and what is going on. Then, to dig out bits of Scripture that fit those situations and begin my own collection of gathas.
Will you help me, and share your gems here?
Maybe a gatha for heavy traffic, or for situations at work that tend to get one a bit torqued. How about a gatha for when I want to respond to someone with anger or in self-defense?
By the way, Wikipedia says this about what “gatha” means:
“The word is originally derived from the Sanskrit/Prakrit root gai, which means, to speak, sing, recite or extol.”