“Don’t let today’s disappointment cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dream.” -Unknown
Have you ever looked back on your life, and felt amazed by how much has changed? If you’ve dealt with any disappointments lately and you’re wondering how to turn it all around, know that it’s never over. Perhaps you are dealing with a situation that has angered you, disappointed you, saddened you or even isolated you…….I know that I am currently dealing with all of these. So, how can I, as a Buddhist and as a feeling human being, get to know myself well enough to make a change? Is it about letting go of anger or disappointments, or investigating them long enough to have proper understanding? Perhaps its a healthy combination of both.
The most important reason for getting to know our anger is that anger is actually a precious energy that becomes anger only when it is caught up in complex egoic patterns. As we’ve seen, those patterns include stories about anger’s cause and object…..the broken vase and the one who broke it, for example……as well as many deluded beliefs, not the least of which is the delusion of separation. This energy needs to be freed and transformed rather than distorted or destroyed. When we are unable to feel our anger, depression, collapse, loss of aliveness, dependence, and inability to be autonomous are likely to result. The kind of anger we’re used to, the kind that isn’t pure, can be a great teacher, as the great Dhyāna Bodhidharma’s version of the precept indicates. Since anger by definition involves separation, it makes no sense to imagine it arising in a universe of oneness. Thus when it does arise, it instantly reveals to us the delusive creation of “me” and “not me.” Anger shows us just how fast self can arise, especially when we least expect it. It can happen whether we react to someone or something with a flash of temper, or some ancient buried anger wakes up and slowly takes us over. In either case, the self is born again. But when the precious energy is released from the entrapment of self and our actions arise from Self-nature, it is then that we experience the oneness of self and other, and the arising of compassion.
For me, the whole world, every moment, is my field of practice. Meditation and small acts of kindness nourish me. So, what does it really take to make change? Most of us have had moments when our attention shifted from figure to ground, from narrow egocentric centered way of looking at the world to feeling as if we are participating in something much larger. Often this shift involves a shock of some kind. Lately, shock, is what I have mostly been dealing with as I continue to try to unwind the threads of other beings egoic ropes. It’s as if I am scampering through a long and dark wooded path where the weeds and thorns of other’s insecurities try to bind my feet, entrap me and drag my into the emptiness of their desolate forest. The thorns rise from the most beautiful blossomed roses and the tallest of trees drip blinding sap into my eyes so that I may not see……the beautiful flowers that tempt me to veer off my path so that I may take a simple whiff, are little more than knives waiting patiently to impale me from behind. The desolate forest is clearly the emptiness of their hearts. It’s as if Mara had risen in the Lotus pool of the Heart Sutra and Buddha had to make a change in order to not be defeated! Buddha had a choice…..and I have a choice. I much prefer to be alone in Light and Love and Silence, wakened to the truth of all beings and the conditions that have risen and fallen on the waves of the human ego, then to fall prey to the egos that lay bound by ego and greed.
For months now, I have loved writing a blog because it reminds me that I live in a secular community. Even though my daily practice is at Chaung Yen Monastery and my life is mostly monastic, I love communing with you, friends. Lately, it seems that I have struggled to understand why people do that things they do and why people choose to isolate others because of differences. It is the human condition, after all…..I suppose it’s been this way for lifetimes……and will continue to be so. Wars, fights, violence (both physical, verbal and emotional) all arise from self-doubt. Verbal violence is the worst in my book because it can ruin the energies of relationships and strike at something so much deeper than an external wound. And so, I begin again…….time for change in order to understand where I have been. Change will involve many things but for now it will merely involve going on silent retreat. My return is uncertain at this time but I do promise to send updates from time to time. I look forward to sharing what I might happen to find on my return. Until then, all communication will be by heart.