Author Topic: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board  (Read 6520 times)

KhedrubGyatso

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Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« on: June 22, 2012, 02:06:51 AM »
A wise man saw an angry and stubborn boy making life difficult for his parents.One day he approached the boy and asked him how many days he had gotten angry. The boy said he cannot remember. The wise man then gave the boy a wooden board , a hammer and some nails and told him to put a nail in the board every time he got angry. The boy promised he will do that, it seemed fun ! After a few days, he had the board full of nails. The old man then ask the boy to remove each nail everyday he did not get angry. After several weeks, the boy gleefully showed the board to the wise man with all the nails removed. The wise man then said to the boy. You did well to have the nails all removed.But what about the holes left in the board ?
What do you all think the old man is trying to teach the boy?

Jessie Fong

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2012, 06:59:09 AM »
I look at it this way:

a. He hammered the nails in the board every time he got angry : this way, he would not make life difficult for his parents

b. Then the reverse happened : he took out a nail everyday he did not get angry : he encouraged the boy not to get angry

c. The holes in the board left behind by the removed nails remind him that he has improved by not getting angry so often and that he had caused less hurt to his parents

Otherwise it was an exercise of anger-management

Positive Change

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2012, 02:51:49 PM »
A wise man saw an angry and stubborn boy making life difficult for his parents.One day he approached the boy and asked him how many days he had gotten angry. The boy said he cannot remember. The wise man then gave the boy a wooden board , a hammer and some nails and told him to put a nail in the board every time he got angry. The boy promised he will do that, it seemed fun ! After a few days, he had the board full of nails. The old man then ask the boy to remove each nail everyday he did not get angry. After several weeks, the boy gleefully showed the board to the wise man with all the nails removed. The wise man then said to the boy. You did well to have the nails all removed.But what about the holes left in the board ?
What do you all think the old man is trying to teach the boy?

This is a brilliant story. I believe the point of this story is to teach us about karma. The fact that our every action, in this case a negative action (Hammering nails into the wooden board), has a repercussion (the holes left on the wooden board) whether or not we make it up by trying to remove the problem (removing the nails from the wooden board).

I can safely deduce that the point the wise man was trying to hammer into the boy, through a very visual way, was that the number of times he showed his anger was indeed causing an effect on his parents and even though he had not shown non anger the same number of times, it did not remove the effect and that it was permanent. In this way, it clearly illustrates the effects of his anger and the boy can then realize for himself.

The best lessons learnt are often through self realization because our ego and self righteousness may come in the way of someone trying to let us know of or point out our faults and mistakes.

Big Uncle

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2012, 08:27:40 PM »
Well,  I would come to this conclusion that the wise old man was trying to teach that anger is an extremely destructive emotion. It is uncontrollable and if one doesn't try to get to the root of the problem and restrain this destructive emotion, it will take a lot of patience to undo the damage done.

This is reflected in the removing of the nails part of the story. However, no amount of patience can completely undo the damage inflicted by every moment of anger. The holes serve as a reminder of the irreparable damage that anger can inflict upon others if we allow anger to run its full course.

On the side, anger is the direct cause to taking rebirth in hell or the hellish circumstances. It is not a punishment but the environmental result of anger.

bambi

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2012, 03:35:29 PM »
From my opinion, the wise man was teaching the young boy the effects from how he hurt people with his difficult ways. Nailing the board when he was angry helped him to count the times that he is angry. The holes are the pain that he left in his parents mind and it can never be repaired with what he said and did. It is also a way to calm down his mind and practicing mindfulness since the board was already full of nails from all his anger.


Mindfulness is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. "Breathing in, I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out, I smile towards my anger." This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness.

When it is cold in your room, you turn on the heater, and the heater begins to send out waves of hot air. The cold air doesn't have to leave the room for the room to become warm. The cold air is embraced by the hot air and becomes warm—there's no fighting at all between them.

We practice taking care of our anger in the same way. Mindfulness recognizes anger, is aware of its presence, accepts and allows it to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother's suffering. He simply says, "Dear brother, I'm here for you." You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him. This is exactly our practice.

Imagine a mother getting angry with her baby and hitting him when he cries. That mother does not know that she and her baby are one. We are mothers of our anger and we have to help our baby, our anger, not fight and destroy it. Our anger is us and our compassion is also us. To meditate does not mean to fight. In Buddhism, the practice of meditation should be the practice of embracing and transforming, not of fighting.

http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=1756

Tenzin K

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2012, 02:46:56 PM »
Asking the boys to hammer the nails every time he got angry and remove the nail each everyday he did not get angry basically is to train the boys to control his anger.

The holes left on the board are actually showing to the boys that things will never be the same. When the boys say things in anger or act in anger, they will leave a scar just like the holes. No matter how many times of “Sorry” mention the wound is still there. This is also a reminder for the boys to understand the impact of losing control of his anger

pgdharma

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2012, 03:26:28 PM »
From my point of view, the wise man was trying to teach the young boy that anger can cause harm and hurt. When he asked the young boy to hammer a nail each time he gets angry, it showed the many times the young boy hurt his parents. When he asked the young boy to remove the nails,  he is telling the boy not to get angry. The holes left in the board showed that anger he created had  hurt his parents and even if he were to apologize, the damage has been done and no matter how hard he tried to rectified it, the scars are there just like the holes in the board. Being angry doesn't solve anything, in fact it creates more harm.

lotus1

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2012, 03:41:20 PM »
I learned from this story that anger is bad and it will have a lot of negatives effects left behind. By hammering the nail whenever he is angry, in a short time frame, the board is full. This shows that how frequent and easily the boy is angry towards his parents where that should not be the way as we should always respect our parents. By taking away the nails when he is not angry that day, it is to encourage him for not being angry and shows to him that he can also cultivate the habits of not being angry. However, the most precious lesson is that no matter how much we try to amend after being angry, it will still left a lot of negatives or bad imprints behinds and it will follow us to our future lives too. Therefore, it is better to use the precious human body that we have now to be good, do more virtues, than being angry. :)
 

Q

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2012, 03:53:12 PM »
This is a very nice story. I think the old wise man did really great in giving this young boy a method of which he can relate to.

First of all, he chose a method that was highly likely for the young boy to carry out without fail. The wise man also made the boy think... after all, we don't grow up with just knowledge, wisdom is the key to growing up.

What I like most was when the wise man asked the boy about the holes that was left behind on the wood. I think here, the wise man tried to tell the boy 2 things... First, is that whatever damage he has done with his anger initially, there would be scars left behind no matter how we try to fix it... Second, the karma collected from behaving such a way cannot be erased just by applying the opposite. When he just stopped himself from being angry, all he did was creating less holes... not repairing them.

So, i think it is a beautiful story that can teach us all a lesson or two...

yontenjamyang

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2012, 04:08:39 PM »
Well,  I would come to this conclusion that the wise old man was trying to teach that anger is an extremely destructive emotion. It is uncontrollable and if one doesn't try to get to the root of the problem and restrain this destructive emotion, it will take a lot of patience to undo the damage done.

This is reflected in the removing of the nails part of the story. However, no amount of patience can completely undo the damage inflicted by every moment of anger. The holes serve as a reminder of the irreparable damage that anger can inflict upon others if we allow anger to run its full course.

On the side, anger is the direct cause to taking rebirth in hell or the hellish circumstances. It is not a punishment but the environmental result of anger.

This story is to show that the law of karma operates in the way that for all negatives actions, there is a negative effect. Even after removing the cause (the nails) the effect is still there (the holes). Being patient has the effect of not causing any nails to be nailed (no cause, no effect) but it does not negate the cause and effect of our previous actions.

According to the law of cause and effect, one cannot contra any effect of a cause by committing an opposite cause. One has to experience the effects of ALL the causes. Hence, we should not commit any negative cause at all.

In the sutras, the Buddha himself killed a ship captain to save the lives of others on the ship, and he has to experience going to hell albeit for a brief moment because the same act save many lives.

Dorje Pakmo

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2012, 04:14:13 PM »
Simple and straight forward story.

1)Hammering a nail in the wood each time he got angry. Is to get the boy to be aware of his ANGER.

2)Removing a nail from the wood each time he did not get angry. Is to get the boy to CONTROL that ANGER.

3)Showing the holes in the wood. Is to let the boy knows ANGER, is DESTRUCTIVE and can leave much permanent damage is one doesn't practice control.

Very nice :)
DORJE PAKMO

biggyboy

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2012, 04:30:02 PM »
Here the wise man is showing the way how the boy has reacted and how it has affected others, in this case his parents.  In my opinion, the holes on the board meant in two ways.  The method used give better understanding with visual to see how one's anger could cause so much damages.  The parents are represented by the board, hammer and nails the anger and the holes being the damages/hurt/scar.

1.  The scars that are left behind representing damage and hurt that has caused onto his parents. What has been done is done.  No matter how one cover the holes (just a matter of sharing) the scars are still there.

2.  Another way to look at is to be mindful of his action.  That is to say, should his anger arises he is to arrest that mind and find the antidote to counter it before causing further damage or hurt to others.

ratanasutra

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2012, 04:48:52 PM »
Thanks for sharing the profound story. i love to read it.

I look in this way, the wise man shows the boy that he could be angry and not angry, it is under control which proved by the nails full of board and he can removed all nails later on.

So the boy can control his angry and why not he just control it so there will not be any nail in the board in the future. Because even when he can stop his angry and removed all nails but the whole are still there and can see on the board which refer to the karma he has created even though his parents forgive him or he fixed it back but the karma is there no one can change it. So since we can control it then do the things that not create harm, disappoint other as we can fix it but we never can come back what we have done.

 

negra orquida

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2012, 04:50:47 PM »
I would say something similar to what most of us have said here.. just would like to add that if the amount of strength used to hammer the nails is dependent on the intensity of the anger being felt, the boy would have noted that the harder the nail was driven in, the more difficult it is to pull the nail out. Similarly if one's anger was very great or uncontrolled or prolonged, the damage done as a result is much more harder to "undo", and the scars or imprints left behind is much deeper.

For newbie Buddhists, i'm not certain if it is possible to eliminate anger from our minds at this stage.  i suppose in the meantime we should strive to control our anger, or practice letting go of the anger / permit ourselves less and less time to be angry at something. this reminds me how my parents used to do a countdown for me and my siblings to stop crying when we throwed tantrums... its as though we are given 10 seconds to feel the anger/frustration, calm down, let go and move on.

jessicajameson

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Re: Wise man who teaches with nails and a wooden board
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2012, 06:20:35 PM »
We can hit the nail in, we can take the nails out.

This story illustrates how we are in control of whether we hit the nail in or take the nail out - we are in control of our anger.

The holes on the wooden board shows that there is a karmic effect to our anger. Just because we are not angry, it doesn't mean we won't experience the karmic effects of inflicting harm by being angry before.

Just my 2 cents.