This is the twenty-sixth of the series of reflections arising from a month in silence and solitude; the musings invite the reader to explore the Truth for himself or herself. May the writer's reflections be windows to look in, or out, onto the vista of our one Beloved, our deepest, truest Self. Peace! Brian K
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Let go all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of harmful behaviors.
*Christian Scriptures. Ephesians 4.31.
Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying. The baby needs his mother to embrace him. You are the mother for your baby, your anger. The moment you begin to practice breathing mindfully in and out, you have the energy of a mother, to cradle and embrace the baby. Just embracing your anger, just breathing in and breathing out, that is good enough. The baby will feel relief right away.
*Thich Nhat Hanh. Anger.
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In Zen Buddhism the following story shares about anger.
A robust samurai comes to a Zen teacher. He says, "Tell me the nature of heaven and hell."
The Teacher says, "Why ought I tell you? You, a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?"
In rage, the samurai draws sword. He raises it to cut off the teacher's head.
The teacher speaks, "That's hell."
The samurai sees he is in hell, that rage and ill-will is hell. Tears come. He puts palms together in respect, bows in gratitude for the teaching and teacher.
"That's heaven," says the teacher.
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Others disappoint us. We all know that feeling. A big enough disappoint or being disappointed enough times leads to anger. Being abused leads to anger. Being ignored leads to anger. Feeling unloved leads to anger. One may be angry at himself or herself, at another, at everyone, at his or her 'God.' We could go on-and-on here. Simply put, most persons are angry sometimes, some are angry more than they wish to admit, some are angry all the time, as it smoulders behind the eyes or is expressed outwardly. So, there is a lot of hell in the environment we humans share. We make this hell possible, so we can make heaven possible too. Hell is not our natural environment. We can turn hell into heaven, and doing this one time is important, even one time.
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One might think that a month in solitude for prayer and meditation would be all heaven. No. Like in daily apartness for spiritual practice, we cannot separate that from our life otherwise. Say, when meditating, as example, the act of withdrawal and quiet invites what one often is not aware of. So, right in solitude, there in meditation, arises hell. Heaven and hell can arise, one after the other. I warned my meditation students upfront that meditation would not simply bring peace. I informed them, if they did not want that, they needed to discontinue the class. Many persons do not see how angry they are, how miserable they are, plastering over it in varied ways. A smile may only be makeup to a miserable being. Better to engage a practice that leads us to be miserable about our misery, so to welcome joyful healing. Anger is one form of this misery. So, knowing anger, we can work with it; knowing hell, hell can become the seedbed for planting a seed of kindness, of generosity. So, when you see an afflictive feeling, one that distresses, in you, be grateful, that is a blessing. Some persons are dead to that seeing, so they can walk around hurting persons and are not even aware. Good that you and I can be aware of hell in us, and heaven in us. Those unable to see hell in themselves, they are living in hell, they cannot enjoy heaven.
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Anger may arise from unfulfilled expectations of others. In the solitude, I recall standing in the room in which I meditated. I was calmly aware of anger present. I felt let down by someone. I knew this was a pattern in my life-story. In years past, I could hang on to quiet resentment for years, not now thankfully. I calmly looked at this hell, and felt this peaceful, "I don't care what ... does, or doesn't do." This was a calming transition from a subtle anger to, "It's okay, regardless." So, I released the expectation, or, better, through being-present to the hurt and anger, another way arose naturally. Very simple ~ cease the expectation that is bringing pain.
See, in such mindfulness, we see more clearly. So, we may see how absurd one is behaving to allow oneself to live in hell simply because another being does not share the same level of wished reciprocation, or does not share at all. After all, any reciprocation is a gift, or why would you want it? Why would we want someone to share with us out of a sense of responsibility to us, rather than a natural desire to do so? So, such anger really is self-inflicting suffering on ourselves, while, often, another goes about his or her happy way. So, we can choose to release the anger, the resentment. In mindfulness, in stillness, we can look into hell and apply wisdom, to adjust how we relate to what is bringing emotional suffering.
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We, then, see we want to work with anger, not against it. We can see the anger as a teacher, not meant to harm us. We realize the potential harm anger can bring, but we can see the potential wisdom too. But how work-with anger ~ indeed, all afflictive emotions? Let us continue with the above scenario from solitude.
We allow a nonjudgmental space to listen to the anger. We ask questions in silence, and we see what arises. What is this anger saying? Is this about one person, this one time, or a whole lifetime of such disappointments? Is this really about feeling let down by another person, not this one? Is this anger saying, "I'm hurt," not "He - or she - hurt me"? What does this anger feel like, when I drop the story line? Is this saying I really like this person and wish for a healthy, friendly connection with him or her? If this person is not receptive to that, possibly, I need to see who in my life is sharing with me and I with him or her -, and hold that in gratitude? Is it possible this person does not know my thoughts and feelings about wanting to share? Is there someone in my life whom could benefit from my being assertive in being receptive to sharing kindness and friendship with?
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Then, we can be open to being surprised by someone else caring much for us, more than we knew. Recently, a person wrote me, saying I had been more in her consciousness than she could put into words. That was wonderful to hear. And, somewhat surprising. So, while we will not be blessed to share with some persons, possibly, we are overlooking the blessing another shares with us in common goodwill. This is even more a blessing to me, when I realize the sharing is at a level spiritual. That depth of connection is more than the general connecting we engage in, based largely on things like mutual interests, likeness in personality, similar family life, alike religiously, ...
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So, we move from the personalized pain and its story, to the depths of humanness, where we are all one energy-life manifesting in this wonderful, sometimes painful reality of community. We are life, and life evolves through connection. So, obviously, when wishing for connection, we are expressing life, ourselves. We can release the story of how we will lose by not connecting with a person; this allows space to see who already is sharing in-love with us, this provides space to allow more heart-sharing to flow in and out of our lives. In seeing all this, we can work-with the anger, and move on.
Healing is a process, honesty is integral to the way. Compassion arises when we discern anyone is caught in fear of vulnerability and seems unable to give and receive freely. No one among us must be loved by any certain one, we all need to share mutual friendliness, however, with someone.
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Similar heartful practices, as shared in this writing, can be applied to all the feelings of upset that arise in this body and mind. Everything is workable.
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*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.
*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.