Forgive that person just as others forgave you even in a practical sense because you cannot win that argument. Look at your “pot of water on the stove again”, it is your mind. Now it is not only simmering, but is now boiling over. And it was you that turned up the heat (it was your choice). If you had forgotten the other person completely or just let her anger bounce off of you, then what would have become of your anger? Suppose the next customer who drives up is a great friend whom you did not see for a long time and gives you his or her phone number and wants to treat you to dinner?
In that scenario, the angry confrontation that you experienced before is completely erased from your mind. In fact, it ceases to exist anywhere. Your thoughts are energy. It is like creating a hot coal of matter every time your mind and ego are jolted. But if you train your mind for equanimity, then your mind, “pot of water on a stove” will stay cool. Not only will you keep your cool and maybe even your job (if you shouted back at the customer you would have been fired), your morning will continue to pass without incident and without suffering (that was induced by your mind). Equanimity is experienced again…
This is so important. You have a choice here. Many feel that they don’t have a choice but to react in anger. But recall the story of the Buddha who was hurled insults as he walked down the road. He gave the analogy, “If someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept it, then who is the owner of the gift?” Those are such wise words. If you accept the anger, your mind is acting just like a sponge, absorbing all the toxicity from the angry person. Make your mind like a mirror that cannot absorb anything. The angry simply shines onto you but cannot be absorbed, and reflects back to the person who angered you.
In such cases, just smile and take a deep breath and quiet your mind and offer up a blessing to the angry customer. Imagine again all the times you yourself were in a hurry or upset about a situation and let an innocent person “have it”. As the Bible wrote, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Your mind and even your body will feel stronger as a result as well.
Remember the times when someone was angry with you and shouting at you. If you were in an unawakened situation, you felt weak, and your legs felt like giving out from under you. But remember the times when you were praised and you absorbed and your ego soared to new heights. You wanted to dance and your legs were as strong as tree trunks. Your poise even changed too.
Recall the times when someone was angry at you and try to recall your posture. You probably held your head down and slouched over. But when someone praised you, you held your head up high and your posture was straightened, chest forward. Do so likewise always and every time you face an angry person. Just “get over it” quickly and allow the negative energy to dissipate.
The art and skill of “getting over it” is central to achieving lasting happiness. For most people who are unawake, they will become angry. To the more awakened ones, they will lose their anger (even if they were angry even for a moment) quickly. But to the least awakened, they will internalize the anger like water to a dry sponge, and become unsettled. They will accept and keep the anger bottled up. They may carry the received anger for a long long time, maybe the entire morning and into the afternoon.
They may then reflect back the anger to others, since it is inside them like a cancer. If they are serving another customer at the McDonald’s as in the example I gave, they may be rude and inconsiderate while taking the order. So the anger that the initial customer gave, doesn’t dissipate or disappear, the negative energy goes on and travels on, like a sorrowful echo.
You may then ruin someone else’s day, and he or she may drive off and cut off another driver on the road in frustration and cause an accident. Then, the people in the accident also will suffer. And the chain of suffering will continue on to infinity. So be very careful what you think about because in a very real way, your thoughts are reality. And they continue creating realities through space and time.