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Thread: Dealing with anger

  1. #1

    Dealing with anger

    Greetings all,

    I have a couple of things I need advice on. Last week I went to the garage I've always gone to to get my oil changed. While there I was reading Mind of Clover while waiting. One of the workers asked me what I was reading so I showed him the cover and he went on with his business. When I was paying he asked me if I was "all Zen'd up" and I laughed and said something about it being an ongoing process, etc. I also mentioned that I was planning on receiving the precepts and that's what I was reading about. We then chit-chatted about cycling and a few other things. When I went to leave he followed me out and began asking me about my relationship with Jesus. I told him I'm fine and didn't want to talk about it, he just kept up. I told him I thought Jesus was a great example and great man, but not divine. This went on for a while and I told him more than once that I didn't want to have this conversation, that I know, in my heart, what fits for me yet he wouldn't stop. I kept feeling anger boil inside me. I never said anything mean but I know I was visibly agitated. I have had many issues with anger in the past (and obviously now) and am wondering how to deal with it when it arises. I think this proselytizing is one of my sorest nerves also. I grew up in a very conservative christian church that was full of judgmental people and I live in state where a state senator, the wife of a Baptist preacher, says that homosexuals are worse than terrorists. I feel that 99% of christianity is bankrupt and has lost the truth of Jesus, especially most of what we have here in Oklahoma. Many of my most traumatizing events have come at the hands of faithful christians and, even now, I'm struggling to come to grips with the idea of faith. Like I said, I have a problem with anger but I felt he showed me no respect (I know, there's nothing to disrespect) and it was kind of like an act of violence towards me in that he would not listen to my desire to end the conversation. As I finally left he gave me his card, in case I wanted to talk some more, and it seems he's an assistant district manager for the franchise. I'm also wondering if it would be wrong of me to lodge a complaint with the company? They have lost my business because I don't care to put myself in that situation again so should they know that? Even now, almost a week later, I can feel this anger when I think about this event. Should this even be bothering me so?

    Thanks for listening,

  2. #2

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Quote Originally Posted by sarushin
    Greetings all,

    I have a couple of things I need advice on. Last week I went to the garage I've always gone to to get my oil changed. While there I was reading Mind of Clover while waiting....
    Hi Alan,

    I am off to bed, and will let other hearts answer this one. But I want to ask you to include this fellow in a bit of Metta Practice ...


    He is Buddha after all, teaching you a great lesson. Perhaps he is Jesus too!

    And ya gotta admit ... getting angry while reading about the Precepts is another great lesson! :shock:

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Believe me, the irony of it wasn't lost on me. Also I do realize that some of my negative emotions are self-directed. I understand I was a very poor example and feel badly about that.

  4. #4

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Hello Alan,

    I think you have found the perfect garage. Oil change and a few lessons for free. I wouldn't change from a garage that offers that.



  5. #5

    Re: Dealing with anger


    Mishaps are part of the practice.
    Don't forget.


  6. #6

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Hey Alan,

    I won't get into my thoughts on Christianity and the evangelism that comes with it since honestly it's not very nice. I will say that I think you did the right thing in deciding not to frequent the place, but there isn't any need to report the man to the chain. Not liking that he really wanted you to convert to his religion isn't a fair trade for the ability to feed his family. Especially not in these times.

    With that said, I do have to remind myself every once in a while that the "one true way" meme runs through our religion as well.



  7. #7

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Quote Originally Posted by Fugen

    Mishaps are part of the practice.
    Don't forget.

    Well said! I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    With that said, I do have to remind myself every once in a while that the "one true way" meme runs through our religion as well.
    I think that this happens with every religion at one time or another. A kind of "my god is better" complex.

    As for being angry with the worker in the garage. This same thing has happened to me as well, and I say the same thing as you did to the person who was preaching, and granted do get annoyed when they persist. But I try to think that the person is only trying to help (even if we do not want nor need the help). I give them a nod and a smile and wait until they are finished preaching. Eh, there are times though when I do not want to be bothered by things of this nature, but I try to see it from their eyes.


  8. #8

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Hi Alan,

    I don't have anything profound to offer other than to say I often find myself in situations like you described, so you certainly aren't alone. I know that getting angry in those situations is only causing me suffering and I'm guessing you've gotten that far too since you're here at Treeleaf. I agree with the others that it's a learning experience although I probably wouldn't go back or report the guy. I'd just move on. That might seem like an easy out and that it's better to go back, but I've found that my difficulty is in feeling I have to go back or I'm deficient in some way. As I indicated above, I know that about myself and know the cycle it gets me into...but putting it into practice is a whole other thing.


  9. #9

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Yes, I think after the event that caused you anger mettha is a good practice. Another is to see, if you can how you react to it within your body and your thoughts and emotions (well anger is an emotion). Just to observe them. Perhaps in this way you will be able to see how you react and be able to let it go or be content that you are feeling angry withouth adding more frustration to the fire.

    I think with the evangelicals, its a point of training for them that they will push the message without really engaging what you have to say or come up with arguements that were made before to counter whatever you have to say. I'm truely sorry you have to encounter it.

    Thankfully in Australia the belief of God and imposing that view on others is not so prevalent (like UK to a certain extent). Or not at all really. If an eveangical just asked a random person here about their relationship with jesus or god and continued on about it, ppl just think they're a nutcase. I used to get stuff or cynical comments when the Jehovah's witness used to come doorknocking but that's died down, probably because people don't appreciate it. Once I got in a conversation with a friend of friend re buddhism and i was trying to say what it was and came up with a line like it's about a search for the truth, understanding called dharma and you can apply it in life to avoid suffering and i got the reply "Jesus is the truth". I just said "oh cool" without going into an arguement because it would not have got anywhere. How can you argue with a concept such as "Jesus is the truth" cause it does not have any logic to it anyway. Might just be easier to say "I love Jesus and I go to church twice a week".

    It's annoying when you can't even agree to disagree.

  10. #10

    Re: Dealing with anger

    This person's goal, however misguided, was not to make you upset. He, like all of us, only wants to be happy.

    He was a great teacher and this was a great lesson.

  11. #11

    Re: Dealing with anger

    i live in Israel and here religion is pretty important.
    if i tell people i am a Buddhist they look at me funny and try to talk me out of it...
    some people are more aggressive others are actually pretty nice and it is fun having a real discussion with them.
    i just let it all be and not get angry everyone thinks their way is the right one, so let them think they might be right.... for me i know what is the way to go and if they wish to try and convert me well they can try the worst thing is i will just tell them firmly that i don't want to hear it and thank them, if they get insulted well it happens.... but it takes 2 people to insult, one to do something and the other decided its insulting to him.
    you can go through life without hurting a few feelings no matter how hard you try (and i have tried).

    just remember this that sometimes you actually want to tell people about Buddhism, people that you know will benefit from it... and sometimes they don't want to hear it at all...
    so you should not file a complaint about the guy, i think. as for going there again or not it is up to you... i would go there again and if he starts doing it again 1. try to have an interesting discussion with him, 2. if that fails tell him polity that its bothering you and ask him to stop doing it in the future, 3. having failed the other 2 just stop going there.

    hope it helped.

    Gassho, Dojin.

  12. #12

    Re: Dealing with anger

    Sometimes, talking helps, sometimes silence helps.
    Knowing when to speak, thats the hard part.


  13. #13

    Re: Dealing with anger

    In my experience, I've found that anger and negative emotions have a story behind them. One of the typical stories is 'this shouldn't be happening' or 'he/she should/shouldn't have done that'.

    If I apply inquiry to those assumptions (a la Byron Katie's 'Inquiry'), I realize that they just don't hold up. Of course, usually I go off half-cocked and perpetuate a karmic chain whereby I will be exposed to more experiences that cause me anger. Every now and again, I can see the ridiculousness of what I'm doing and halt it - if for no other reason than self-centered self-preservation. I admit though, it can be very hard.

    Jundo's prescription for metta practice could also help immensely. If you cannot halt anger when it comes up, doing metta may provide the right mental conditions whereby it is less likely to come up.


  14. #14

    Re: Dealing with anger

    I second Chet's idea that there is usually (I'd say always) some kind of baggage behind anger.
    I also think that Chet is correct about Metta and its role in helping us deal with that.


  15. #15

    Re: Dealing with anger

    I am going to post a version of one of my favorite old stories on anger (as told by Joko Beck, I am sure many already know it). But I would like to tell my version of a similar story from my life (100% True Story).

    For several years, my wife and I volunteered at a Hospice for the terminally ill. I was late to get to my post one morning, and took the toll road ... but did not have any small change (I think it was 25 cents), and only a large bill. The woman in the toll both could not take the large bill, refused to accept my promise to pay double on the return trip, gave me a hard time, filling out forms and blocking traffic too. I got a bit hot under the collar and told her off a bit. Jerk!

    Not two hours later, I run into the same woman, crying next to her dying mother's bed in the hospice ...

    Everyone's life has many causes and conditions that brought them to that place. The fellow who cuts you off in traffic may be worried about losing his job, or the rude sales clerk may just be having a bad day. I try to keep that in mind now.

    Gassho, J

    Say you're on a lake in your rowboat that you just painted and you're taking it out for the first time. The lake has a little fog on it.. not too much fog but just enough to make visibility difficult. As you're rowing, enjoying your time on the lake suddenly another rowboat comes out of the fog and is headed straight for your boat. Instantly you start screaming to the other boater... "look out.. what are you doing?" Then the boat smashes into your newly painted boat. You are so upset that someone would do this to you and your boat. How on earth would someone be so careless to let this happen. (Just imagine how angry you'd be.) Well this is when you realize that the other rowboat is empty. How do your feelings/anger change? Are you still mad at the other boat. After all it is just an empty boat.

  16. #16

    Re: Dealing with anger


    someone posted a lovely video on this theme over on Brad's blog ...

    the animator of the video says ...

    For those critics who read this video as an 'attack', or commentary on one specific religious/political/ideological group, a message: look deeper.
    I think it could apply to "us" if we cling to the "our Buddhism" too tightly too and think that it is "our way or the highway".

    Best to "non-think" outside the box perhaps!

    Gassho, J

  17. #17

    Re: Dealing with anger

    I wish to thank all of you for the advice, it was sorely needed. After many sittings trying to explore the nature of my anger in that instance I realized that only a small part was actual anger towards him, the majority of it was a combination of anger towards others in my past and the conditioned self-hate that I've been left with. Yes, my anger does have a story behind it; a doozie at that, and I can see now that reporting him would be a form of revenge. I have begun to work metta practice into my daily ritual (does reading from cue cards still count? :roll: ). I'm sure it'll help diffuse negative emotions and teach me more empathy. I really have no problems discussing philosophies but the groundwork has to come from mutual respect and tolerance. I have a problem when everything I say is dismissed, am talked down to, or made to feel guilty (I guess two of those are my own constructs though, thanks conditioning). It does take two to insult and this person knew where I my missing scale was so he could shoot his arrow. The more my practice reveals about myself the more I realize the truth of how we create our world through our thoughts. The only thing he did was not listen to me, yet in myself I turned it into an attack and offense. This was a lesson and I'm glad I have all of you to help me learn it. If anyone else has anything to say I need all the help I can get lol.



    P.S. Jundo, you hit the nail on the head with that video.

  18. #18

    Re: Dealing with anger

    I'm right there with you, Alan, though I may have a little further to go than you. I'm really just getting started on my zen journey, even though it seems my whole life has been leading me in this direction since I was very young.

    Like you, Alan, I'm located in a very conservative area. Pennsylvania itself is usually considered liberal, but once you get out into the rural areas, well...let's just say ignorant attitudes such as those associated with the KKK are alive and well here. Crosses still burn on lawns once in a while. Most folks are more subtle in their ignorance, but it's still a thorn in the side.

    I just recently "came out" about not being a Christian, and I'm openly expressing my Zen Buddhist path with family and friends. In my community, you're a suspicious character if you don't drink beer and listen to country music, so I've always been sneered at for the last 14 years my wife and I lived here.

    You were right, that video did hit it on the head. Even though I haven't been directly approached by anyone disagreeing with my views yet, I have begun practicing metta along with sitting, and it's made a huge difference already. My anger over the ignorance of others is dissipating and I'm becoming more accepting of things being as they are.

    Thank you deeply, Alan, Jundo and everyone else who contributed to this thread. It's been extremely helpful.

    Gassho, Dave

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