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What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging

Buddhist-Brother-ThayEarlier in the week I received an email from a blogger who had been the victim of a pretty vicious hate campaign against her from a number of other bloggers. She asked for advice on how to handle the situation.

I gave her a number of pieces of advice (much of which was similar to my post on what to do when your blog is attacked) but I also found myself returning to some teaching that I’ve recently heard from a Buddhist Monk (no I’m not changing religions – but yes I do enjoy interacting with people from different faiths).

The crux of his teachings was this…

When someone attacks you with anger and hatred say to them:

“thank you for your ‘gift’ – but I think you can keep it for yourself.”

It is easy to take on the anger of other people and to wear it as a burden of your own but it is usually unhealthy to do so.

Anger and hatred directed at you by another person is their anger and hatred and not yours. While they may wish for you to take it upon yourself – ultimately it’s a ‘gift’ that would be better not received.

The blogosphere can unfortunately be a place of personal attack and anger. While I think there is a place for hearing the critique of others and taking it on board in a constructive way – there is also a time to let it go and move forward.

One skill that bloggers need to learn is how to do this.

One more quote to end with on Anger from Brother Thay’s book Anger:

“If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put the fire out. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.”

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Joanne says:

    Thich Nhat Hanh’s books are very enlightning and I recommend “Peace is Every Step”.

  2. Inspirational stuff Darren. I have a buhdhist friend and I love talking with him cause he’s always full of good advice from his religion that really should be just everyday common knowledge.

  3. David Krug says:

    Thanks for sharing this Darren. It’s definetly good advice I need to take onboard.

    D

  4. John Smulo says:

    That’s great advice Darren.

  5. Nicholas says:

    Thank you Darren. It’s always best practice to learn from all religions, as most often they have similar points.

    I’ve always made the point of acknowledging negative comments with a simple thank you for your comment.

    If they continue, you’re right, it’s their problem, not yours. As long as you keep your heart clean, and focus on the good things in your life and the blessings bestowed upon you..

  6. Rich says:

    Thanks for the post.

    The “house on fire” quote reminded me of another analogy on the same subject.

    Brigham Young once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”

  7. Richard says:

    There is a saying “only a fool argue with a fool”. The best way to deal with negtivity is to ignore it.

    But I think the quote you offered in the post “thank you for your ‘gift’ – but I think you can keep it for yourself.” is more illumining.

    To be peaceful, even to those who are negative, requires great strength of character.

  8. Maki says:

    In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there’s a practice known as lojong (google it!) or ‘mind training’. Their premise is simple: Your greatest enemy is your also your best friend. Why? Because they allow you to practice compassion and non-violence.

    Blogging spats can get ugly because emphasis on personal gain or loss is usually very strong. Very refreshing to see a post about tolerance and active non-engagement.

    Thanks, Darren.

  9. Anthony C says:

    Thats kinda funny what you should say to them… lol

  10. Tyler says:

    Darren,
    It is somewhat ironic that this is a topic of discussion for you today. It was just a couple of days ago that James Brausch called me “Some Dividend Money Idiot” in response to a post that I made complimenting him on his success, but offering advice to those not as well-off as he.
    I updated my original post, thanking him for the link and suggesting that I was complimenting him in the original post.
    You can view the two posts here:
    http://dividendmoney.com/james-brausch-versus-leverage/
    http://www.jamesbrausch.com/?p=429

    Thank you for this advice.
    Sincerely,
    Tyler

  11. Martin Edic says:

    Several years ago I heard the Dalai Lama speak at Cornell. He was asked to describe Buddhism. His answer:
    ‘ If you can’t help someone, don’t hurt them ‘
    Compared to the golden rule:
    ‘ do unto others as you would have them do unto you ‘
    In the west we think in terms of doing things to people, in the east to ‘not doing’.
    I still think about that speech frequently.

  12. Emotional self-defense and physical self-defense are essentially the same, IMO. I recently posted a similar quotation to my own blog:
    The Proper Goal of Self-Defense

  13. Samsara says:

    Great article Darren. The Buddhists rely on principles that are not only spiritually healthy, but practical in everyday affairs that we struggle with from time to time.

    I am sorry your friend had to go through that however…I hope she is the better for it.

    As a master taught me once: “I learn from not my best friends or from those whom I agree. I learn most from the [perceived] enemy or those with whom I have dissent. These, are my Zen Masters.”

    Peace, Light
    Namaste

  14. Kimber says:

    Having recently closed our comments due to excessively vile and non-value adding messages, your timing couldn’t have been better! Definitely something I need to remind myself of.

  15. MoirSolace says:

    ahhh, thay… what a wonderful book “anger” is… also, another good one is “no death, no fear”

    wonderful post too btw.

  16. jhay says:

    Great advice, though I know some Pilipino bloggers who have managed to turn their ‘flamers’ into something that would generate buzz, traffic and comments in their blogs.

    Still, I always go by with a saying that goes:

    “I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you says bounces off me and sticks to you.”

  17. Words of wisdom there. I have to say that I’ve read a lot of things over the years said by Buddhist monks, and boy do they have a balanced outlook…

  18. Matt says:

    Wonderful. I studied Thich Nat Hanh’s teachings in university. His work taught me a lot about mindfulness. Great to apply this to blogging too – where mob mentality and anger often flare up without reason.

  19. I agree with Maki.

    I believe the Dali Lama once said:

    “Treat your enemies as if they were precious jewels, because they will build your patience and tolerance on the road to enlightenment.”

    I think having adversity thrown at you, and appreciating it as something that will make you stronger in the end — Well… that’s definitely a good way to live your life.

    …and to blog.

  20. Jamzquar says:

    Even more effective in the long run, for your own well-being:

    “Resist not evil.” — Jesus

    “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Jesus

    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” — Jesus

  21. Ashish Mohta says:

    Blogging is like a second life.We wirte like we do things in our life, we interact like we talk on our blog and through comments.WE make friends online like we do in real life and we gain trust,Bloggers network is like making a community and staying together on blog like we stay in home….its no less than another life.

    Great suggestions

  22. Mark Alves says:

    As Nicolette says, let no one rent-free inside your head. Or, don’t suffer from blogger’s senility where you forget everything except your grudges.

  23. sandeep says:

    Darren, I always believe MODESTY IS YOUR middle name which also reflects in your blog posts.

  24. hello

    that’s brilliant. thank you ;) i especially appreciate the house example. simple yet brilliant.

    cheers,

    cindy

  25. Sahan Rocks says:

    There’s another quote which helped me alot throughout my life to get over instant anger and it goes like,

    “Learn to let go and be free” – Buddha

    You don’t have to chase behind everyone that pisses u off, but law of cause and effect and “karma” will take care of it for you, so u don’t have to be angry instead just, Learn to let go and be free

    Use, train and discipline your mind to get what you want, instead of letting your mind to go wild and free and then use you to get what mind wants – Buddha

    Fantastic stuff Darren keep up the good work

  26. zawadi says:

    very good advice indeed, thank you.

  27. Ray Dotson says:

    Yes, good advice and timely for many of us, myself included. Thanks for the post, Darren. I’m going to link to this and add my own thoughts…

  28. nika says:

    FYI: Buddhisim is not a religion, it is a practice. There is zero conflict between buddha and his message and what “your favorite religion” has to offer. One can be a catholic buddhist, a jewish buddhist, an atheist buddhist. All buddhism asks is that you put aside thoughts of everything from your commute this morning, the news of the day, your favorite music, your anger towards your fellow man, your hunger, and, yes, active prayer. An empty mind is all that is needed, thats all. :-)

    I find that blogging is not good for my zen practice. It combines active thought (can be good if your on a good writing riff but its not zazen) with the baser emotions (envy at another blogger’s hit count, anxiety that no one will ever read your work, greed for making more (ok, any) money, ambition to increase one’s traffic in the face of demoralizing and overwhelming odds). That negativity keeps on spilling over and coloring my general attitude toward blogging. Its a learning experience. I think buddha would say “keep blogging but dont look at you stats, ever” The experience is redeemed somewhat by the ancillary activities of shooting food for my blog.

    If I had a negative commenter experience I would find it hard to not be crushed. So much to learn.

  29. Harry L says:

    I just had a conversation with someone recently that said ” Holding onto a resentment against another person is like taking poison and thinking it will
    hurt the other person!”

  30. Pedro says:

    this is a really nice way to handle all your problems :) That’s why i just love those monks ^^

  31. cd says:

    Is this monk the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh?

    I like nika’s comment #28. Agree with everything.

  32. Jonathan says:

    Great post.

  33. Ben Hamilton says:

    I’ve always found that “what comes out of a persons mouth is often more about them that it is about the person they speak of”.

    Hate and anger comes out of those that are not dealing with their own issues.

    Hope your friend ‘feeds’ on the support offered here and is able to continue onward.

  34. Ben Hamilton says:

    sorry, “what comes out of a persons mouth is often more about them, than it is about the person they speak of”

  35. Liudmila says:

    I’m very glad to have find your blog and this your post.Thank you.I hope you have no mind if I “steel” some sentences and post them in my blog to remember…

  36. Wow. That is a really powerful little story you ended the post with. Thank you for sharing!

  37. Jon says:

    Gotta love those Zen stories that really make you think. I love ‘em. Thanks for a great story.

    Another I like is “To take control of your cow, give it a bigger pasture” :-)

  38. I have the exact same philosophy. I smile when people say something stupid or arrogant and that gets them even more mad :)…muhahaha

  39. Alpesh says:

    Nice one Darren! This article applies not just for blogging but in generally to many more aspects of life.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Darren Rowse has this entry over at Problogger, What A Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging. [...]

  2. [...] Darren from ProBlogger has posted an article entitled What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging. The post is relatively brief, but contains some great pointers for dealing with personal attacks and anger from others, not just in blogging, but in your every day life. [...]

  3. [...] One of Darren’s posts yesterday caught my attention, not because of his blogging advice, but because of a more powerful reminder about what to do when you get some hate and anger thrown in your direction. Consider this insight that Darren gained from a Buddhist monk: When someone attacks you with anger and hatred say to them: “thank you for your ‘gift’ – but I think you can keep it for yourself.” [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger Blog Tips has some good advice about what to do when your blog is attacked. I’ve been lucky to have pretty easy going blog readers and not any trouble for the last few years, but things got a little out of control last week. One thing he suggests is to establish boundaries. A part of this is to consider “the type of things that you’ll allow in the interactive areas of your blog.” Before I used to let anything go, but one day last week I was forced to reconsider and change this philosophy. Another suggestion is don’t get personal. I agree that “getting personal achieves nothing but escalating a conflict and perhaps even creating a lifelong enemy. It takes the focus away from the actual disagreement and further away from any productive resolution.” The article is filled with great advice including take it private and keep perspective. He also put up an article about what a Buddhist monk taught him about blogging. “If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put the fire out. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames.” [...]

  5. [...] What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging – Darren, I like how you helped a blogger under attack. [...]

  6. [...] What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging The things you can learn … and their applications … (tags: articles buddhism social blogging) Bookmark to: [...]

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  8. [...] ProBlogger: What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging. Summed up in one line: When someone attacks you with anger and hatred say to them: “thank you for your ‘gift’ – but I think you can keep it for yourself.” [...]

  9. [...] Tips – Don’t forget the lesson a Buddhist Monk once taught me about blogging and dealing with negative people. Also posts that might be helpful include Communications Skills [...]

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