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Thread: Getting mad fits sometimes

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Getting mad fits sometimes

    This is in part an addition to my thread about what makes you whole http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3645 and also in part a response to shouting at the students thread http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3657

    First of all, I am not a shouter. I learned as a kid, somewhat wrongly, that anger is wrong and unproductive, and so I have held anger in for most of my life. Shouting out of anger never worked for me, so I shut it down. My anger exists, however, or at least it shows up from time to time, even as shouting, but I have found it to not be in any way productive, so my general pattern has been to deny it or bury it or in some way not express it. BUT, as I just said, my anger really does exist, and I think we all get angry at stuff, so my practice of denying it (in whatever form that took) for most of my life has not been good practice. And that brings me to my point...

    I am a secular teacher and I got really mad at my students yesterday, but I never shouted, and I think I totally drove home my anger at them anyway. I will leave out the distracting details on what got me so mad because I ended up being (I think, as the results are not all in yet) a very effective teacher. Context is everything, and the context of my anger was that over the whole semester I conveyed to them how much I cared, how passionate I was about the subject. In that context I believe my anger was acceptable, that it was ok. Maybe zen teachers do the same, though undoubtedly people will have exceptions, which is fine....

    Here's my point: Given the context, anger might be okay. But don't hold on to it. People really do fuck up sometimes, especially students. Think about it... we've all done it to one degree or another. I fully believe it's okay to expect a lot from students, and it's also fully okay to hold them accountable, and I also believe that teachers invest a whole lot in their students, and so when all that doesn't work out us human teachers get mad, sometimes.

    And That's Okay
    Getting mad fits in with that human part of the Path
    And eliminating that human part is not the Middle Way
    Living with it and then letting it go is...

    Go on, Piss me off... I dare you :twisted:

  2. #2

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Hi Al,

    This reminds me of a thread awhile back on "righteous anger" ...

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    Can there be Righteous Anger? Is there a time when anger is acceptable, and not simply justified? Or as Buddhists who cultivate peace and hold to the Bodhisattva Vows that say Do not hold on to anger, are we to always try and put aside the anger in favor of compassion and peacefulness?

    :evil: or 8)
    This is an interesting question. You have probably seen, in Tibetan Buddhism, images of "wrathful" deities who turn their "pure anger" toward such causes as the protection of the Dharma and the saving of all Sentient Beings ... their wrath is directed at fighting evil, fire with fire ...

    http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/d ... eities.htm



    Anger is also a natural part of being human ... like sadness and fear ... and we should not be angry about sometimes getting a little angry (or sad about sometimes being sad, etc.). That's just how our animal brains are wired.

    HOWEVER, unlike sadness (which is just part of the scenery of life, rainy days following sunny), or fear (which may even serve to keep us safe and out of harm's way if held in moderation) ... anger is truly fire & TNT, and has potential to do great harm. It is more likely to end up as a fight in a bar, a broken relationship or starting a war than it is to do any positive good. As well, there are other emotions and perspective which can accomplish the positive goods more effectively.

    So, for example, calm reflection, looking for a constructive solution and keeping one's head as much as possible while taking effective action is an approach more likely to solve a problem in this world or in one's life than tossing more fuel on the fires of hate. ... Perhaps, "righteous indignation" or "tough love" (if a parent ... even the Zen Master's "30 blows" are more of this kind) or "a firm hand with a calm mind" may be justified by a situation ...

    ... but I would say that anger is rarely, if ever, an appropriate response.

    You can read more in our threads on this subject for study of the Jukai Precepts ...

    viewtopic.php?p=33401#p33401
    Also this, on playing with fire ...

    [T]o fully remove these emotions from the human mind ... including potentially harmful emotions such as anger ... would rob of us of an important part of being human. We would be reduced to living in a way as emotionally numb and dull as a piece of cold wood or a stone. Some schools of Buddhism (and some other Eastern and Western religions too) have sought to completely kill or squelch such emotions within us (sometimes many other human emotions too). This has traditionally been described as pouring water on the fire until coals become completely wet and cool, and the fire is completely out.

    When Buddhism came to China, Korea, Tibet and Japan ... the Buddhist teachings on the emotions subtly changed (I paint with a broad brush, but I speak as a general trend). The fires of emotions were not seen as necessarily negative things, but they must be handled carefully and with balance. A campfire, so useful for cooking our supper if skillfully made, will quickly burn down the woods if left untended. A single candle which offers light can burn us and others, and the whole house down, if handled wrong. So it is with our emotions.

    ...

    ... Thus I say that the Precepts guide us away from excess and uncontrolled anger, greed, jealousy ... Anger at injustices in the world, for example, may spur us on to fight for change ... yet that anger should be kept in balance, and tempered with an equal dose of acceptance of life, lest it burns us to ashes too. The desire for change should not be allowed to run rampant as greed for and attachment to change from 'how things are'. A healthy dose of competition need not become jealousy and violence. We should use strong words much as we would scold a 3 year old child found playing with matches ... that is, with love and concern and understanding, not simply to hurt the child. A harsh word can be an "intervention" to shake a friend up who needs to hear ... or it can simply be a cruel and destructive word meant to hurt someone (the most famous example of "Zen tough love" may be all those old tough talking Masters administering "40 blows" of Wisdom). Thus, do not extinguish life fires ... but handle them with care and use them in constructive ways!

    viewtopic.php?p=49816#p49816
    Gassho, J

  3. #3
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Jundo, I am so Pissed off at you now! How in the hell did you post that so fast? I took so long to craft my post and you do this amazingly detailed and linked post in response in the time it took me to finish and then walk the dog and come back and check on the possible responses of us less unenlightened.

    Damn You! :twisted: I hate you :evil:

    :mrgreen:

  4. #4

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Jundo, I am so Pissed off at you now! How in the hell did you post that so fast? I took so long to craft my post and you do this amazingly detailed and linked post in response in the time it took me to finish and then walk the dog and come back and check on the possible responses of us less unenlightened.

    Damn You! :twisted: I hate you :evil:

    :mrgreen:
    I hate you too. :evil: :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes


  6. #6

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Hi.

    [youtube] [/youtube]

    'Nuf said. 8)

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  7. #7

    Getting mad fits sometimes

    Anger is considered one of the mental afflictions, not just in the Pali canon but also in Mahayana tradition. Anger leads inevitably to suffering. It would thus be wise to seek to control anger, see what causes it, and what it will lead to.

    A buddhist teacher I have, said (probably quoting someone else, I don't remember) that "ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the cause".

    By allowing yourself to show that anger, the consequences may be grave. Is it not better to avoid that?

    By acting out on anger, or violence, or something like it, we transform our mind, we invite anger, we get used to it. Then we will use it more often. Then we will be defined by it.



    Edit: I changed the quote a bit to better represent what my teacher said.

  8. #8

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I Cannot agree more with you, Anista.

    The only thing that sounds a bit strange is the quote you give:

    ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the action itself"
    Bodhisatvas don t fear, their understand, plunge, dive, embrace...
    The way i see it is that a Bodhisatva is actually relating to the raw and awakened quality of the emotion, so no run away. no escape and no fear.
    As he-she communicates with the naked energy and works with it, anger dissolves (sometimes :? )

    gassho

    Taigu

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I have lived with a short fuse all my life. However, I have found over the past few years, with patience and practice (taking time to see where things come from) the triggers disappear. I do not think it is denial or suppression, it is more like getting closer to objectivity. And, somewhere, out of that spaciousness come the skillful means to a solution. It works if you allow it. I am so pleased that I can say this because i lived in a family where it's members seemed to grow a wrath with age. I felt so badly to see my sister develop the same rage that I saw grow with time in my father and his parents before him. I am so happy that I can be at peace with just being and to think it was my father that taught me over sixty years ago how to 'clear my mind.' What Irony ! On dit, "C'est dommage!"

  10. #10

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I Cannot agree more with you, Anista.

    The only thing that sounds a bit strange is the quote you give:

    ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the action itself"
    Bodhisatvas don t fear, their understand, plunge, dive, embrace...
    I really liked Anista's quote.. though perhaps it can be said "ordinary people watch for the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas watch the cause"..

    Many thanks to you both!

    Nate

  11. #11

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Jundo, I am so Pissed off at you now! How in the hell did you post that so fast? I took so long to craft my post and you do this amazingly detailed and linked post in response in the time it took me to finish and then walk the dog and come back and check on the possible responses of us less unenlightened.

    Damn You! :twisted: I hate you :evil:

    :mrgreen:
    I hate you too. :evil: :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo
    I read alot of what goes on in our sangha during lunch at work, so I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I hate you both for making me laugh like a crazy person when I read this; no doubt my co-workers are questioning my sanity as I type this...... :lol:

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Anger is considered one of the mental afflictions, not just in the Pali canon but also in Mahayana tradition. Anger leads inevitably to suffering. It would thus be wise to seek to control anger, see what causes it, and what it will lead to.

    A buddhist teacher I have, said (probably quoting someone else, I don't remember) that "ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the cause".

    By allowing yourself to show that anger, the consequences may be grave. Is it not better to avoid that?

    By acting out on anger, or violence, or something like it, we transform our mind, we invite anger, we get used to it. Then we will use it more often. Then we will be defined by it.
    I will agree with Anista here, acting out on anger and allowing it to transform our mind is dangerous. Anger is one of the three great poisons. But like all forces, it can be channeled. Anger, when examined from a place of clarity, can be re-directed from hatefullness to helpfullness if we view it with the eyes of Kannon. I found that when we were discussing the whole "Engaged Buddhism" thing that I got angry about some things. This is a good example, because it played out both ways. If you read my posts, you can see times when I deffinately allowed my anger to overcome my compassion and understanding, but the flip side of that coin is that I also became motivated to do something about it. When my anger was let to do what it wanted, I sounded like a jerk. When I was mindful of my anger, I found that I was angry with the situation underlying the whole thread, where people are in need. This realization allowed me to curb my anger and redirect it to be more beneficial.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Al,

    The only caution I would have in your post concerns whether or not you have created an environment in your classroom where students can disagree with you and not fear unfair retribution in the form of grades or evaluations. I don't mean that a student can get up and start shouting whatever they like whenever they like, but I have seen way too many teachers who seem to enjoy the power they have over their students' lives. So, if you have from day one allowed students to speak up I don't see a problem with showing such emotion, but if not then frankly I don't think it is ok to show anger in the classroom.

    Yes, students do fuck up sometimes, but I don't think that's exclusive to them. Teachers do it too. We all do! But if a teacher screws up it can be a lot more damaging and we are not usually the best ones to evaluate our own screw ups.

    Just my $0.02.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  13. #13

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Jundo, I am so Pissed off at you now! How in the hell did you post that so fast? I took so long to craft my post and you do this amazingly detailed and linked post in response in the time it took me to finish and then walk the dog and come back and check on the possible responses of us less unenlightened.

    Damn You! :twisted: I hate you :evil:

    :mrgreen:
    I hate you too. :evil: :wink:

    Gassho, Jundo
    You guys are cracking me up!

  14. #14

    Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I Cannot agree more with you, Anista.

    The only thing that sounds a bit strange is the quote you give:

    ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the action itself"
    Bodhisatvas don t fear, their understand, plunge, dive, embrace...
    The way i see it is that a Bodhisatva is actually relating to the raw and awakened quality of the emotion, so no run away. no escape and no fear.
    As he-she communicates with the naked energy and works with it, anger dissolves (sometimes :? )

    gassho

    Taigu
    Yes, by fear, I'm sure she didn't mean that bodhisattvas go around being afraid of different actions. I'm sure she meant that as a figure of speech. Something like, bodhisattvas are more mindful of what they are actually doing, because they know what consequences an action can lead to. We ordinary beings sometimes get more preoccupied with the consequences of our actions, without realizing what caused them.

  15. #15

    Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by natezenmaster
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I Cannot agree more with you, Anista.

    The only thing that sounds a bit strange is the quote you give:

    ordinary people fear the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas fear the action itself"
    Bodhisatvas don t fear, their understand, plunge, dive, embrace...
    I really liked Anista's quote.. though perhaps it can be said "ordinary people watch for the consequences of their actions. Bodhisattvas watch the cause"..

    Many thanks to you both!

    Nate
    Yes, perhaps it should be phrased that way instead, to avoid confusion!

    Thank you!

  16. #16
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I want to be very careful here about my point, or points, which are * below:

    *My take-away from when I studied the precepts as part of Jukai was that to be angry was not good, but that being passionate about something was good, but the line between passion and anger can be a thin one, thus the dance. But itís hard to dance with anger if you donít acknowledge the music of anger that we all have in our lives.

    *As a very fallible human being that is not yet a fully realized Buddha (as I suspect you are also), I am subject to anger; I have not yet transcended it, and itís highly unlikely I ever will. As such, I believe it is better to acknowledge and accept my anger than try to suppress it. Anger can be an honest expression, thus okay. But itís not okay to get trapped by it, caught up in it, because then I am clearly violating the precepts.

    *To be averse to anger seems dishonest, thus piling delusion on top of delusion, not good. On the other hand, to be aware of anger allows you some control over it so that you wonít get caught up in it and can then let it go. There are times in our life where we are going to get angry, so it fits in our life in those times and places, but this is no excuse to live an angry life. Be angry; then move on. Think of it as bad tea; you make it, drink it, and move on from it trying to make better tea ever after.

    *To be simplistic about anger is to miss the point. First of all, no emotion is that simple. Second of all, anger is really complicated. A prime example is how anger can come from love, as any parent can tell you when talking about how much they love children yet they also are inevitably infuriated by those damn/great kids. Honest expressions of anger can tell you a lot about yourself as well as be an effective means of communicating with others. We all learned a lot from our parentsí expressions of anger, and for most of us that was good and important stuff, though possibly painful in more ways than one. It's that early history that sets us up for how we deal with anger (or not) later on, which is exactly what we need to be aware of.

    *Dosho, I have a very free class as far as expression goes. The message I unceasingly try to convey is that they are to contribute as honestly and often to me as I do the same to them. In that context, my anger at my students was entirely unpremeditated and totally honest in that moment, and it effectively conveyed to them my passion for the topic and their responsibilities as students. Once that moment was over, I then tried for the rest of the day to let it go, and it took all day to do that. But I was aware enough to not get too caught up in it any more than I already was. Again, I am just another fallible human trying to deal with things the best I can. Could I have handled that situation better? Probably. Would suppressing my anger have been healthy for me? I donít think so (see below for more about this). Would suppressing my anger have been helpful for them? Itís hard to say, but probably not because life involves responsibility and consequences and sometimes this needs to be conveyed in strong terms. Such is the day-to-day delusionary reality we live in and must acknowledge. Also, and maybe more importantly, or at least more personally, I have no kids except for these students, and my attitude toward them is often parental care and concern, so in a way I was just mad they ran out into the street without looking for cars, which in this case was doing a simple yet important homework assignment.

    The main reason I started this thread was because I have just recently become aware of just how angry I am. As I said in my original post, I have spent most of my life suppressing anger, and that was functional for me for all that time. But no more. Iíve been living a lie in regards to anger and I just canít live that way any longer because itís been eating me up from the inside out. What am I angry about? To keep this short, letís just say disability related issues such as the death of many friends and the mistreatment of them and the living by society. Itís been a passionate issue for most of my life, but I am just now beginning to hear the music of that anger, just now learning how to dance with it. And when I say just now, I mean within the past couple weeks or so, which means lots of dancing missteps, and thatís okay. We learn from our mistakes, such is their blessing upon us.

    Anger fits in my life somewhere, of this I am sure, and now I am working on the how and where of that fitting process. My guess is that I am not without dance partners here.

    Thanks for listening
    Just donít be angry at me, because I will totally kick your ass! :twisted:

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    Just donít be angry at me, because I will totally kick your ass! :twisted:
    Bring it on!! HAHAHA j/k

    Anger is a very powerful feeling and yes, we all have it and it manifests more often than we would like it to. Thing is, when we let anger control our actions, then that's when we hurt ourselves or other people.

    My nature is not of an angry guy at all but I sometimes get angry but try to cool down. I have found that the most stupid actions I have always taker were when angry.

    So I just focus at the problem at hand and try to solve it. By the time I check up on the anger, it's always gone. Not sure if that makes sense...

  18. #18
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    We are of the same mind today, so I will spare your ass-kicking :roll:

  19. #19
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    ye-e ea-a-a-AA Jigen !!! 8)

  20. #20
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Ouch! Don't hurt me! I didn't mean it! Cant you take a joke? Jeez!
    OwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOwOw

  21. #21

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I get "mad fits" sometimes. They usually go away in a couple of hours.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Anger is considered one of the mental afflictions, not just in the Pali canon but also in Mahayana tradition. Anger leads inevitably to suffering. It would thus be wise to seek to control anger, see what causes it, and what it will lead to.
    I have read two camps and I agree with them both?! :shock:

    I have been reading some Wilhelm Reich therapy material lately, and, controversy aside, Reich believed that anger, when channeled properly and not destructively, was an appropriate release of pent-up energy that, if withheld, could drive a man crazy/ to imbalance.

    I have also read that anger must be watched, controlled, or let-go of.

    I don't really know how two things that are opposed can agree in my mind like this. I probably am just indecisive.

    Quote Originally Posted by anista
    Yes, by fear, I'm sure she didn't mean that bodhisattvas go around being afraid of different actions. I'm sure she meant that as a figure of speech. Something like, bodhisattvas are more mindful of what they are actually doing, because they know what consequences an action can lead to. We ordinary beings sometimes get more preoccupied with the consequences of our actions, without realizing what caused them.
    I don't know about you guys, but I've never met a bodhisattva... I don't know if they never feel anger or fear... They might just acknowledge it differently. It perhaps wouldn't manifest in the mind of a bodhisattva with the same flavor as it does for me...

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa
    *My take-away from when I studied the precepts as part of Jukai was that to be angry was not good, but that being passionate about something was good, but the line between passion and anger can be a thin one, thus the dance. But itís hard to dance with anger if you donít acknowledge the music of anger that we all have in our lives.
    I like this. Maybe understanding the meaning of passion is that Middle-Way to my indecisiveness...

  23. #23
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Amelia, where you see contradiction and opposition I see complexity. Anger is like fire; when used in a controlled manner it can actually be constructive (being passionate about something that will benefit others), but when misused it can be very destructive. I'm in the process of trying to understand that complexity in my own life. I think to see anger as only destructive precludes what might be an important part of our lived experience, and so I say it might be okay to dance with mara. But be careful that dance does not spin out of control to the point it burns you and all that surrounds you. In other words, I think there is a middle way, a complex way, with anger.

    As for it being a mental affliction, I have three thoughts. First, I agree. Second, the best way to get rid of those afflictions is to become aware of them and accept them so that you can drop them. Denying our afflictions does no good. Mara may ask us to dance, but that doesn't mean Mara has to lead that dance, and turning Mara down denies you the chance to work on your dancing skills. Third, we are filled with lots of different mental afflictions that come in many sizes, so a little anger is a minor mental affliction, but a lot of anger is a BIG mental affliction. I would suggest that our efforts are better aimed at the BIG afflictions over the smaller ones. So, no matter how much Mara wants you to do bumping and grinding dirty dancing with her, keep in mind that the dance is chaperoned and that you need to follow the rules, which are better known as the precepts.

    Finally, you haven't ever met a Bodhisattva? Really? If you want to meet one, I suggest you look in the mirror and say "How do you do. My name is Amelia."

  24. #24

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Hi,

    I will say again that, in my view, anger is best avoided in almost all cases. It is TNT and matches. To repeat:

    It is more likely to end up as a fight in a bar, a broken relationship or starting a war than it is to do any positive good. As well, there are other emotions and perspective which can accomplish the positive goods more effectively.

    So, for example, calm reflection, looking for a constructive solution and keeping one's head as much as possible while taking effective action is an approach more likely to solve a problem in this world or in one's life than tossing more fuel on the fires of hate. ... Perhaps, "righteous indignation" or "tough love" (if a parent ... even the Zen Master's "30 blows" are more of this kind) or "a firm hand with a calm mind" may be justified by a situation ...

    ... but I would say that anger is rarely, if ever, an appropriate response.
    However, I happened to stumble upon something I didn't know about the traditional depictions of Kannon, Bodhisattva of Compassion, as I was doing some reading for today's 'sit-a-long' talk.

    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3666&p=52163#p52163

    So often depicted as gentleness, but not always. In the traditional depictions of the "9 or 11-headed Kannon" ...



    ... "The faces of the various Bodhisattva usually include ... three angry faces (shinnumen Á??ś?'ťĚĘ) ..." Why? Taigen Dan Leighton writes, in his wonderful book Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and their Modern Expression, explains:

    [While the] three faces in front are usually smiling kindly, the three to the figures left ... are wrathful and scowling, directed to those beings who require stern guidance to awaken ...

    [Another form of Kannon known as] Horse-Headed Avalokiteshvara ... appears as a fierce, wrathful figure ... [who] expresses compassion with an angry, terrifying visage for whoever needs such incitement to awaken or be helped.




    Well, I suppose that TNT and matches can be useful too ... to blast open tunnels and move great obstructions! However, certainly, only when used with the greatest care, respect for its power, and by an expert's hands. I think Kannon sometimes looks angry ... but isn't at heart.

    Gassho, Jundo

  25. #25
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    [i][Edit: Don't bother reading further. Just re-read Jundo's post above, which is WAY better than what I had to say below. The post below was my self's reaction -- but not an angry reaction [img]{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  26. #26
    Stephanie
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I'm suspicious of anyone who says we shouldn't experience anger. I think that's an idealistic view. It's a natural reaction, and because anger is natural, it serves a purpose. Anger is an alert system. Many times when I've been engaging in some dysfunctional activity in my life, it was only the rising tide of anger that finally got me to look and see that I was doing something dysfunctional, which then allowed me to discontinue that activity.

    I think there's a difference between honoring anger and indulging anger. In my senior psychology thesis in college, I distinguished between two different types of emotion, one kind I related to the amygdala and the other to the prefrontal cortex. Basically, what I thought and found supported by my experiment was that some emotions are immediate and powerful--and these we can do little about, at least in terms of their arising in the mind. These are related to the amygdala, a primal and ancient part of our brain that correlates to arousal states and basic emotions. However, what we can do something about is the perpetuation of these emotional states through our elaboration of them, a process that largely is related to the prefrontal cortex.

    I would distinguish between the rise of an angry emotion embedded in a context, and the elaboration on anger that allows anger that no longer has an immediate context to continue. Resentment is precisely this latter type of anger--ruminating on something that happened that is over, and continuing to feel anger about it. This is the kind of anger I've learned how to "control" through zazen--at least in the sense that when I have the awareness to see it is happening, I know better now how to let go and drop it, and that it is pointless to keep it going, it is a fantasy.

    I think all people do better when they learn how to use their power to say no, to stand up and fight against injustice. I have personally found that being responsive to my anger is a key part of this process. This does not mean being reactive--although certainly I become reactive sometimes--it means being aware that something is making me feel backed up against a wall, so that I can, if possible, get myself out of that position. Some equanimity is required, to be able to honor the anger without being pushed by it. It's a life's work I've far from perfected, but I've certainly gotten to the point where I do not indulge but also do not fear or dismiss anger when it arises.

  27. #27

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    I would distinguish between the rise of an angry emotion embedded in a context, and the elaboration on anger that allows anger that no longer has an immediate context to continue. Resentment is precisely this latter type of anger--ruminating on something that happened that is over, and continuing to feel anger about it. This is the kind of anger I've learned how to "control" through zazen--at least in the sense that when I have the awareness to see it is happening, I know better now how to let go and drop it, and that it is pointless to keep it going, it is a fantasy.

    I think all people do better when they learn how to use their power to say no, to stand up and fight against injustice. I have personally found that being responsive to my anger is a key part of this process. This does not mean being reactive--although certainly I become reactive sometimes--it means being aware that something is making me feel backed up against a wall, so that I can, if possible, get myself out of that position. Some equanimity is required, to be able to honor the anger without being pushed by it. It's a life's work I've far from perfected, but I've certainly gotten to the point where I do not indulge but also do not fear or dismiss anger when it arises.
    When I was young I was called a reactionary and had no idea what they were talking about. Now I like to think I'm more proactive and able to put it down or let it go, but I can't really control when it pops up. Thanks for explaining this. The only thing I would add is that sometimes the 'fight against injustice' takes a long time and seeing your mistakes as well as others, kind of tempers your reaction or action as the case may be.

  28. #28

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Anger, inexhaustible topic...

    Very precious energy there. The problem is not anger , it is how we relate to it and sometimes identify with it. As we all know, once we reach a point of no return, we are caught in anger, we become angry and nothing can be done. As long as we can appreciate its quality and texture, we don't have to fall into it. The game is to communicate with its raw quality without being overwhelemed and subdued by its mesmerizing whirling stake.

    And yes, sometimes, a Bodhisattva will wrap herself or himself in wrath. The wrath is intended to dispell the illusion of a separate and solid self. Not to arm , but to disarm, to render harmless.

    I try not to allow anger to be the boss. But as a French with a very choleric personnality, I have plenty of this red energy.

    gassho


    TAigu

  29. #29

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Ah... thank you Taigu Sensei.
    It seems to me that it's not the sense or feeling of anger- which is part of humanity- that is "wrong," nor necessarily the actions its energy may provoke us to. (According to the Christian faith, when Jesus physically cleared the Temple of people who were making money off God, he, in his wrath, did not sin. Regardless of one's beliefs about Jesus, that story and idea are worth thinking about.)
    the Monks of our own faith in Lord Buddha who have taken to the streets in protest around the world at different times- some in extreme ways- were driven by anger to do things. "Wrong?" I don't know.
    What IS definitely wrong is to allow anger to become our identity. In the west, we don't (usually) say, "I feel angry." (Or, I feel happy, or I feel sad, etc...) No no... we say, "I AM angry." It's really not how American English works, is it? Think about it. Mom scolds her boy saying, "I am very angry at you right now!" Or we say, "I am totally pissed off!" or, "I'm just so mad!" (Mad? Interesting.) Powerful word, that little, "AM." Other languages don't really put the identifier there. Linguistically, it's pretty weird. I wouldn't say, "I feel Karl." (under normal circumstances.) I'd say, "I am Karl," or maybe, "My name's Karl." But when talking about emotions, especially powerful ones like this, I'll always say, "I am very angry!" (and say other colorful things.)
    Why the "am?" Why do we in the West SO hugely identify with our feelings? And in the long run, isn't that part of the overall difficulty in presenting the Dharma here? We ALL feel things. So why must I make this anger "mine?" Why must I BECOME it to express it? Why the "am?" Something maybe we need to overcome in our collective mindset. Or just part of who and what we are. I don't know.
    I am confused.

  30. #30

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Great post and great questions, KvonNJ,

    There is no easy answer, and the more I grow into this path, the less I like the taste of easy answers...
    My first advice would be to stay with "I don't know".
    Many guys out there will lecture about the differences between our Western mindset and the Eastern way of being looking at the linguistic and cultural differences...
    I think emotions are also an issue for the Japanese salary man. It is part of being human.
    Not to identify is one way, the other one is to jump into it , be one with, until one communicates directly with the energy. And sometimes we are just sad or just happy. Understanding that it is OK and no big deal is also a good option, putting this tandrum or upset mind into perspective, give it space. No need for distraction, just the sheer awareness that the world is much bigger, that this box-like state I am getting locked in.

    gassho

    Taigu

  31. #31

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I have to lend my voice to Taigu and Steph. You cannot be devoid of anger and you should not try to deny a piece of the human condition simply because it is less than beneficial. Neither, however, should you roll around in it and swim in the emotion until your fingers get all pruny. Recognize it, but one should not allow it to dictate how one will act. If you act from a place of clarity, your actions are wholly your own; if you act from a place of anger, then your actions are really Anger's actions. Anger's actions make Anger's karma, and worse still it is now Anger's actions that other people are comming in contact with - coloring their actions and thoughts, breeding more anger, causing resentment.

  32. #32
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    I am very grateful for Karl writing what is below, and it bugs me to the point of posting again on this thread.
    What IS definitely wrong is to allow anger to become our identity. In the west, we don't (usually) say, "I feel angry." (Or, I feel happy, or I feel sad, etc...) No no... we say, "I AM angry." It's really not how American English works, is it? Think about it. Mom scolds her boy saying, "I am very angry at you right now!" Or we say, "I am totally pissed off!" or, "I'm just so mad!" (Mad? Interesting.) Powerful word, that little, "AM." Other languages don't really put the identifier there. Linguistically, it's pretty weird. I wouldn't say, "I feel Karl." (under normal circumstances.) I'd say, "I am Karl," or maybe, "My name's Karl." But when talking about emotions, especially powerful ones like this, I'll always say, "I am very angry!" (and say other colorful things.)
    Why the "am?" Why do we in the West SO hugely identify with our feelings? And in the long run, isn't that part of the overall difficulty in presenting the Dharma here? We ALL feel things. So why must I make this anger "mine?" Why must I BECOME it to express it? Why the "am?" Something maybe we need to overcome in our collective mindset. Or just part of who and what we are. I don't know.
    As Zen Buddhists we say "I am also a buddha."
    But we (as regular folk that happen to also be a buddha) also say, "I am angry."
    As Zen Buddhists such contradictions are acceptable, and yet... that particular contradiction bugs me. That "I am also a buddha" seems fine, but the other one seems more accurate as the following: "I have anger in me."
    Language is important and its effects are subtle. Sure, this is a nuance that only we might bother with, but that's fine by me because it reflects me upon me. Anything I can do, and this case that means linguistically, that can help me separate from self-identification is fine by "me."

  33. #33

    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Well, to me, it's more than a linguistic distinction... it illustrates how the way we speak influences who we are. What I mean is, "BUDDHA" is a name, a title, an actual identity. "Angry," on the other hand, is descriptive of nothing more than an emotion. One would never say, "You know, I feel pretty Buddha right now;" it wouldn't make sense. You could, however say, "I feel angry." But instead we say, "I AM angry."
    I think it's really interesting... we will make the actual name- the identity- the "other," and something as transient as an emotion becomes an identity.

  34. #34
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Getting mad fits sometimes

    Haha, semantics call on you this time :P But, yeah we agree. You say it better than I can, however, and I just think it's an important point that keeps driving home to me.

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