Four kinds of Vipers & Four kinds of Persons

It was the second group meditation of the Gimhana Retreat on Wednesday, 19 June.  Following the 45-minute quiet sitting, Bro. Tan quoted Sutta 4.110 from the Anguttara Nikaya on the four kinds of vipers (poisonous snakes), which are comparable to four kinds of persons:

  • A person who is quick to become angry, but the anger does not last long;
  • A person who is not quick to become angry, but the anger lasts long;
  • A person who is quick to become angry, and the anger lasts long; and
  • A person who is not quick to become angry, and the anger does not last long.

Bro. Tan shared that the poison of anger is one that is developed over the years.  Feeding the venom in us are ‘misperceptions’ such as, “this person has harmed me before”, “this person is harming me now”, “this person may harm me in the future”, “this person has harmed or is causing harm to my loved ones”, or “this person is friendly with my enemy”.

Negative feelings may arise when we fail to get what we want, when we are exposed to unpleasantness, or when we are separated from the pleasant.  This also gives ammunition for anger to flourish.  Thus it is important to curb the toxic build-up right from the beginning, for it will only increase if we allow it to grow unchecked.

Correctly understanding that anger only brings unhappiness, we learn to arrest the build-up of this negative emotion before we fall into the viper’s pit!  We can also practise wishing others well, through Metta (loving-kindness) meditation, as its curative effects are another form of detoxification.  One of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is vedanānupassanā (contemplation of feelings).  Seeing feelings for what they are, and not adding our own misperceptions, we ground ourselves in mindfulness and awareness, just ‘knowing’ and letting it stop there.

Cultivating our minds through meditation creates calmness and clarity.  Through constant and persistent practice, the mind eventually becomes still and quiet, not so easily disturbed or stirred by external conditions.  This depth allows for certain levels of insight to arise within our psyche, which are more illuminating and enriching for our well-being.

JOIN US for the next group meditation and Dhamma teaching by Bro. Tan on Wednesday, 26 June, 8pm – 10pm at Nalanda Centre.  All are welcome!