There was a time where a young man had a heated argument with his wife. He said he made a mistake and regretted marrying her. He was not happy and felt the days were meaningless. He asked his father for his opinions about a divorce.
His father asked him, “Son, does your wife have any virtues?”
The son thought for a moment and said, “She had some before we got married, but not anymore.”
His father continued, “Does she think you have any virtues?”
The son answered, “She thought I had some before we got married, but not anymore.”
His father responded, “You are much better than me. I didn’t realise your mother’s virtues before we got married.”
The father took his son outside the house and picked up a piece of tile and some cotton. The father asked, “Which one do you think is harder, the tile or the cotton?” “Of course the tile!”, the son replied. The father then took the tile and the cotton and dropped them together from the same height. The tile shattered, while the cotton fell gently.
The father continued, “You see, son, the hard one smashed into pieces, but the soft one stayed intact. You should be as humble in nature as cotton. We should not harm others or we will eventually be harmed as well. You should not be as aggressive and sharp-minded as the tile because when it meets the cold, it will freeze, and when it hits something hard, it will break. If you hurt other people, you will feel more miserable yourself. You must embrace the virtues of others, then, you will feel a sense of warmth. In contrast, if you only focus on the shortcomings of others, you will only hurt yourself. We should learn from the cotton: to keep someone out of the cold and keep them warm. Sometimes, just one word will bring warmth to your wife’s life, while a mean and selfish word could make her hate you forever, thus destroying your marriage. You wouldn’t wish for me to treat your mother the same way you treat your wife, right?”
Those who often regret are unable to understand others and are selfish as they only think of themselves. They will never be considered a Buddhist, because a Buddhist practitioner is someone who lets go of their “lesser self” in order to attain the “greater self”.
As Buddhists, we should forget the shortcomings of others and remember their virtues. That way, we will live a healthy and happy life.