It is indeed a fault for one,
Who returns anger for anger.
Not giving anger for anger,
One wins a double victory.
- Sakka (Vepacitti Sutta)
In the Vepacitti Sutta, the discourse on ‘Calm in the Face of Anger’, the Buddha recalls a great ancient war between the devas (gods) and asuras (demi-gods). Victorious, the devas capture Vepacitti, king of the asuras, and brought him in chains before Sakka, king of the devas. Incidentally, the asuras, who suffer from jealousy of the devas’ greater well-being, can never win them due to their karmically greater merits. Ferocious in nature, Vepacitti hurls verbal abuse at Sakka. However, Sakka remains unprovoked, which prompted Matali, his charioteer, to ask if he was afraid, which is why he chose to forbear. Sakka replied that although he forbears, he was not afraid or weak. Sakka asks in turn, of how he, who knows [the way things should be] could be provoked by a fool [whom Vepacitti was].
Matali remarked that a fool would be more angry if no one stops him, that the wise should restrain the fool with a ‘mighty stick’ [which is physical violence]. Sakka replies that the only thing he sees possible for stopping the anger is by being mindful of it and remaining calm. [Of course, if the angry person is violent and not physically restrained, one should defend oneself and prevent him from harming anyone.] Matali rebutted that he sees such forbearance as a mistake, since a fool will see him to be thus due to fear, hence coming on stronger, just as a bull might further chase one who flees from it. [However, true forbearance does not further provoke the angry, but allows the angry to calm down, for easier reasoning and reconciliation. True victory wins by transforming hearts and minds.]
Sakka replies to let such a fool think whatever he wishes, while nothing is more ideally good than patience – for one who is strong is able to forbear those who are weaker, with eternal endurance of the weak as the highest patience. Those who see strength as that of fools see the [truly] strong as weak. The [truly] strong, however, would guard practice of the Dharma [Buddha’s teachings] by never being contentious. Sakka thereupon utters the famous verse that opens this article, on how forbearance quells anger for a win-win situation – by behaving for the good of both sides, thus healing all. Those who see the forbearer as foolish simply do not understand this teaching. This is how Sakka won Vepacitti – with wise forbearance, which Vepacitti lacked, leading to his impetuous self-destructive deeds.
Hatred can never be ceased by hatred.
Hatred can only be ceased by love.
This is an eternal law.
- The Buddha (Dhammapada)
The Only Way To End Hatred