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Chapter 7. LEARN FROM DIFFICULT BEHAVIOR... > Imagining a World Without Difficult ...

7.11. Imagining a World Without Difficult Behaviors

Every difficult behavior represents a lesson we can learn, a challenge we can address, and a skill we can develop. By rejecting people who engage in difficult behaviors, we may actually lose a unique opportunity to learn from them. This idea lies at the heart of the following story, related by Anthony De Mello:

There was once a rabbi who was revered by the people as a man of God. Not a day went by when a crowd of people wasn't standing at his door seeking advice or healing or the holy man's blessing.... There was, however, in the audience a disagreeable fellow who never missed a chance to contradict the master. He would observe the rabbi's weaknesses and make fun of his defects to the dismay of the disciples, who began to look on him as the devil incarnate. Well, one day the "devil" took ill and died. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Outwardly, they looked appropriately solemn, but in their hearts they were glad.... So the people were surprised to see the master plunged in genuine grief at the funeral. When asked by a disciple later if he was mourning over the eternal fate of the dead man, he said, "No, no. Why should I mourn over our friend, who is now in heaven? It was for myself I was grieving. That man was the only friend I had. Here I am surrounded by people who revere me. He was the only one who challenged me. I fear that with him gone, I shall stop growing." And, as he said those words, the master burst into tears.


  

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