dealing with idiots

there's a difference between the stress that comes from the world, and its inconsistencies, and the stress that comes from our craving to change the world so it fits our agenda


the buddha said the way things are:

—all phenomena is impermanent

—all phenomena is stressful

—all phenomena is without lasting identity


but the stress that comes from craving (as taught in the four noble truths & paticca sammupada) arises from our ignorance, and that's something we can do something about

—the core of wisdom is seeing what we are responsible for, what we can change

—and what we're not responsible for, what we cannot change (not our duty or burden)


This is exemplified in learning how to deal with difficult people:


how to tell if someone is one worthy of respect (sangaha sutta):

—Generosity, compassion, beneficial wisdom, consistency

additional qualities to consider (vassakara sutta):

—someone who helps people

—someone who thinks skillfully and doesn't worry needlessly

—someone who has attained inner peace


those we do not respect:

—greed, anger, superficial and inconstant people

—people who say foolish things, obsess, especially over externals, etc


if worthy of respect

—we review our actions and find the value in their criticisms

—we acknowledge our mistakes

—we focus on resolving the issue

—we refuse to accept any label that is a global putdown

—We listen to understand how do they see the situation


if they're not worthy of respect, we limit our exposure

if we cannot avoid being around them:

—we pause and relax the breath before responding

—we restrain our minds from focusing on them, refocusing on the body

—we limit our statements to "I" statements that communicate our experience rather than "you" focused attacks or accusations

—focus on the positive, praising any positive behaviors they've

—we set boundaries, subjects we will and won't discuss

—if they bring up subjects in our off limits list, we interrupt the action, simply stating we cannot talk presently

—If they continue we withdraw our attention. like we would to a lunatic on the street

—if they ask why we're not engaging we why the behavior is unacceptable to you and specify what you want to change.

—rather than engage, a silent smile can be a skillful way of not joining


the Buddha once refused to respond to a verbally abusive man who came to see him. In frustration the man eventually asked why he did not respond. The Buddha then said, "[I]f someone offers a gift, and you decline it, to whom does it belong?"

—we can refuse the "gift" of insanity, anger, negativity, or abuse that is being offered.


if we obsess when they're not around:

—we may purposely bring about an opposite attitude: aversion to goodwill

—again we treat their words like lunatics on the street, saying hello but not listening

—we can find the stress in the body and release it

—we can find comfortable spots in the body and spread the ease, hang out

—do we want to plant these thoughts for our future minds (neurons that fire, wire)?

—would we say these thoughts to a friend? allow a friend to say to us?