*Brian Wilcox. 'a sense of blue'. Flickr
Blue has been linked with slowing of metabolism and generating a calming affect.
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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The soul which is not moved,
The soul that with a strong and constant calm
Takes sorrow and takes joy indifferently,
Lives in the life undying!
*Sir Edward Arnold, Trans. Bhagavad Gita.
We shared yesterday about emotion. I find myself often carried away by anger. Rarely do I express it outwardly, but feel it inwardly, at times for days. Then, I feel guilty, having this reaction after so many years of meditation. It seems I should've progressed more than this.
Anger is an emotion, neither good nor bad. Anger is a sign of inner wounding. It becomes your defense mechanism, an instinctual reaction to ward off being hurt. Anger has wisdom to share with you. To listen to the wisdom, you must, as noted in our last sharing, not try first to understand the whys and wherefores of the anger. First, be-with the anger, do not treat it as an enemy to be gotten rid of, approach it like you would a friend, a wise friend who loves you and wants you to be free of identifying with this reactivity that hurts you and leads you, potentially, to hurt others. And that you choose not to act it out on others is good, it is a good beginning to being-with anger.
This reactivity seems not to lessen, after these years. It feels often too intense, sometimes so in meditation that I can't peacefully meditate, and I just distract myself from it or wallow in it, the story of why I am angry running in the mind over and over, like dirty laundry in the washing machine.
Your sharing that you are carried away by the anger reminds me of the basic idea behind the word "emotion." The English comes from the old French "to stir up," and this finally goes back to a Latin root "to push away out." So, when we feel pushed about, out of inner peace, this is a sign of something in need of healing. This stirring up, as you said like the toppling of dirty clothes in a washing machine, you interpret as you yourself being in the washing machine. Yet, you can inquire, "Who is speaking of the dirty clothes in the washing machine?" You can inquire, "Who is aware of the agitation in the body when anger visits it?"
I guess I am.
The moment you see you are not in the washing machine, you are not being carried away by the anger, this is a turning point in your relationship with anger. I say relationship, for that is what anger is asking of you, anger is requesting you join it in compassion. Anger is a crying out for help, not more rejection, not more guilt. Be the stillness that looks out upon the agitation, be the quietness that looks with kindness upon the stirrings of anger.
Will I ever be free of this anger?
You already are free of the anger. Have you not noticed something, or someone, remains that was present before and after the anger? Anger comes and goes. Having a healthy relationship with it, through compassion, gives spaciousness for the anger to be and, so, transform. One should not set a hope or goal for this anger never to arise again. A moralistic attitude toward anger will not work. It only suppresses the anger. Seeking freedom from anger both posits yourself as having the anger, mistake one, and that anger in itself is wrong, bad, sinful, bad karma, whatever term of judgment of guilty you apply, and this is mistake two. These two work together, for the one who thinks anger is sinful, he or she considers himself or herself sinful for feeling sinful anger. This is delusional thinking, ignorance of truth.
So, I shouldn't fear the anger or feel guilty about it?
Would you fear or feel guilty about an animal crying out in pain for your attention? Would you turn away, not wanting to help?
No, that would be unkind.
So, do not be unkind to any emotion that arises within you... anger, lust, fear, greed, sadness, depression, ... any. I recall the story of a Buddhist monk visiting Zen Master Pai-chang. The master was living on Mount Ta-hsiung-feng. The monk asked him, "What is the most splendid thing in the world?" The master answered, "Sitting alone like a great mountain, as I am doing right now."
So, this is how I practice with anger in meditation?
This is how to be-with anger compassionately, both in meditation and outside it. As in a verse I wrote on anger...
I not anger, anger not I
yet no discontinuity between I and anger
both arising with all things
blissful sharing one Way
no angry I to be rid of
no anger to be rid of ~
That seems a little weird, to identify anger with holy communion.
What is the other option? If one befriends the anger, is it not a holy communion? Communion can only be holy, right? To the wise ones, not to view the friendship shared by one and anger, with anything or anyone, as anything but holy is delusional thinking.
Many of us seem to be shaped in our thinking about anger by the Church?
Yes, especially in the West. The Church has treated anger often as a sin, a displeasure to God, even identifying it as demonic. Among the early desert fathers and mothers, anger was one of what has been called the Seven Deadly Sins. Yet, even the Christian Bible says, "Be angry and do not sin." Not, "When angry know it is a sin." Also, it says, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger." Do not go hugging it, refusing to let it go. The potential harm that can result from anger is not to be overlooked, for anger can precipitate harming others or oneself. Hence, form a kindly friendship with anger. Then, you honor the anger, while not ignoring its potential to be a cause in bringing harm, much harm. And, more truly, rather than "Be angry...," see that anger and you are not the same, anymore than happiness and you are the same. You cannot be angry, for you cannot be anger, you can only be the oneness in which anger and you arise together in duality of expression and return together to undifferentiated beingness. Still, it is wise never to go to sleep angry, rather, let it go. This anger will affect your sleep negatively. It can arise again, if needed, later. Always, go to bed in peace, if at all possible. If you are devotional in your practice, you can always pray a prayer of offering, giving the anger into the hands of God for the night. I am sure Life can receive it, since Life already receives all things and seems quite okay with doing that.
*Brian Wilcox. 'reminders of innocence'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.