My best friend, Len, and I waited at Len’s house while his wife, Marla, and my girlfriend, Donna, drove to pick up the birthday cake for Len’s party. When the two women got back two hours later, they told us that they did not get to the bakery in time, and the place was closed. We had no cake for Len’s twenty-fourth birthday. We quizzed Donna and Marla about why they were so late. They said that the traffic was horrible and then they got lost on the one-way streets. They also said that they were held up at the department store, where they stopped first, on the way.
“Not a problem,” Len said. “We have some brownie mix here. We’ll just whip up a batch”
“You have to be kidding,” I said. “I cannot believe you guys did not get the cake. Sometimes women do not know how to think things through.”
We had dinner and ate ice cream and the brownies with a candle in the middle. Len and Marla seemed happy, but Donna was quiet.
Donna and I left later that evening and walked to the car. When we got inside, I asked Donna what was going on. “You were so quiet during dinner. I hope you didn’t offend Len and Marla.”
“Did they seem offended to you?” Donna said.
“No, but it was kind of rude. What’s the problem?”
“The problem?” Donna said.
“You’re the problem,” Donna said.
“What did I do?”
“You don’t even know.”
“That remark you made about women not being able to think.”
“It seemed to me that you guys screwed it up. You didn’t plan ahead to make sure you got there before the place closed.”
“And that happened because we are women?”
“Women don’t take logistics into account when they do things.”
“You’re a misogynist.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You have a misogynistic attitude?”
“What does that even mean? I like people.”
“It means your thinking toward women stinks.”
“What? How do you get that?”
“You belittled Marla and me as women, and pejoratively stereotyped all women as being one particular way.”
Donna and I sat in the parking lot for an hour, as she described to me the ways in which I showed hostility and prejudice toward women.
When she finished giving me examples of my behavior, I could not deny it. It was right there in front of me. If I looked closely, with a willing mind, I could see that I had been ignorant. I lacked awareness about my attitude toward women. Donna helped clear my eyes. I had an awakening that opened and changed my thinking.
Ignorance and delusion were said by Buddha to be poisons that lead to confusion and dissatisfaction in our lives. The end of ignorance and delusion comes through the development of wisdom. We develop wisdom by cultivating wholesome thoughts, words and actions through the practice of right view, right intention, right action, right speech, right effort, right intention, right livelihood, right mindfulness, and right concentration—all steps along the Eightfold Path.