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A certain philosopher was famous for his even temper. A woman who worked as his housekeeper for ten years swore that she never saw him so much as frown in anger. 

One time a prankster offered to pay her if she could make her employer, a friend of his, lose his temper. The housekeeper thought and thought, and decided what to do. Her master liked his bed neatly made, so she deliberately left it unmade. 

The next morning she fully expected a reprimand, but he only commented, smiling, “Say, last night when I went upstairs, the bed wasn’t made.” 

One night wasn’t enough, she thought. The next night she left the bed unmade again. In the morning he said, “You know, the bed wasn’t made last night either. You must have been busy. Make it tonight, will you?” But she didn’t. 

On the third morning the philosopher summoned her to his study and said, “I see you didn’t make the bed again. You must have your reasons for not doing it. Anyway, I’ve gotten used to making it myself, so from now on I’ll take care of it.” 

The housekeeper had expected a thorough dressingdown. At this show of generosity, she broke down, fell at her employer’s knees, and sobbed out the whole story, begging his forgiveness. The philosopher never left off smiling. He bore this undeserved ill treatment with admirable patience. 

Unchecked anger is a raging flame that devours all goodness. The following story illustrates the danger. 

Once, due to a servant’s carelessness, a rich man’s dinner was eaten by a lamb. The servant received an angry rebuke, and for spite he threw hot coals onto the offending animal. The lamb’s fleece caught fire, and the animal ran in panic into the barn. 

The fire spread to thousands of head of sheep, and in the end the rich man’s barn and home burned to the ground. 

One person’s anger spreads out in waves without end. Know that anger is the enemy, and patience is the foundation of long-lasting peace. 

He who expresses anger with his mouth is an inferior man.

He who grits his teeth and does not express his anger is a middling man.

He who shows no sign of anger even when he is boiling with rage is a superior man.

(Kentetsu Takamori, author of the book Why do we live? and Unshakable Spirit

Learn more about the author of this article, Professor Kentetsu Takamori.

Professor of Buddhism and author of several bestsellers on Buddhist philosophy, human development and education in Japan. Author of the book "Why do we live?".

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