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Question: I was shocked when I saw a volunteer speaking harshly to a group of devotees queuing up for a ceremony. No matter how stressed we are, I think we should be mindful that the Buddha taught us to always be kind. Can a volunteer of any religious organisation vent his anger on devotees due to being stressed?

Answer: Be a person a volunteer or otherwise, of a religious organisation or otherwise, one should never vent anger on any devotee or otherwise due to stress. This is so as anger is a spiritual poison harmful to oneself and others, that all should purge. Anger hurts the angry person’s mind directly, making it heated up with displeasure, while potentially manifesting as hurtful words and actions towards others.

However, it should be remembered that be we Buddhists or non-Buddhists, none of us are Buddhas yet. We are all works in progress. Some might be willing to help as volunteers, but have yet to really start to learn and practise the Buddhist teachings well. It is actually as simple as that. As practising Buddhists, we should learn to forgive due to knowing the above too.

You can also remind the volunteer not to be angry by putting your palms together, saying ‘Amituofo’ (name of Amitabha Buddha) to remind him to connect to his Buddha-nature to calm down, and to emulate the Buddha. It is good to let go of unhappiness due to the incident. Write feedback with good will to the management if you wish, but if poisoned by anger due to another’s anger, it would be unwise! May all be well and happy. Amituofo.

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