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Thread: 9/14 - Do Not Be Angry p.56

  1. #1

    9/14 - Do Not Be Angry p.56

    Such a great discussion on 'Pandora's Box". I hope it continues ...

    ... But it is time to move on.

    Please "Do Not Be Angry".

    Gassho, Jundo

  2. #2
    Hello Readers,

    Well, I'm finally caught up to you all, having started reading this book about a week or so ago. I've actually "read" it twice in the past - the first time before I actually practiced Zen (needless to say it didnĎt make much of an impression on me then), the second time was when I had just begun my practice. Now that I have been practicing for a few years, I actually "get" most of what Joko is talking about. I think this book is actually very good for someone like me, in the midst of the first 5 years or so of practice. Anyway, I am grateful to have this opportunity to discuss it with my fellow Treeleafers.

    This chapter is important to me. My anger has always been a challenge to me and to those unfortunate to be around when I let it loose. In the past my anger was manifested in pretty violent ways. When feeling completely frustrated, when it seemed that I had no thing or no one that understood my predicament, I lashed out. I am not proud to admit it but I have been known to throw and break objects and even punch a few holes in some undeserving walls. I remember being in college and feeling rejected by my girlfriend, and pounding on the walls of an elevator and seeing the skin of my knuckle skid across the metal wall. I still bear the scar. When I got angry it seemed that the universe was actively working against me, and that I just didn't deserve whatever injustice that I was perceiving I was experiencing at the time. Through much reflection (and therapy), I have come to understand that there was a great deal of anger and frustration in my house growing up. Lots and lots of yelling and some hitting. I see that much of it directed at my brother and me was underserved. Unfortunately, I still see this in my family. Many in my family seem unfulfilled and misunderstood, with seemingly no clue how to assist themselves and each other out of their situations. I guess much of that rubbed off on me.

    That said, as I have worked to deal with my anger through therapy, through being a husband, father, and teacher, and through my practice, I am dealing with that part of myself pretty well (although my wife may not always agree!). I do not throw things or punch walls or any of that any longer, but I do still yell sometimes, which I am working on. I am constantly reminded that Jundo gave me the Dharma name Dainin (meaning "Great Patience"). He may never know how truly accurate that name is for me!

    Anyway, sorry to use this post as a bit of therapy - don't want to bore or make anyone uncomfortable, but this chapter really hit home. In fact, ironically, as I was reading this book today (Pandoraís Box chapter), I was really getting into it and really wanted to just read. However, I was, as I thought, being "disturbed" by my 3 year-old son. I couldn't have the peace and quiet that I wanted to concentrate on the book, so I could actually post my comments on Treeleaf! At one point, I raised my voice and said, "Can't I even get by one chapter!" While I wasn't yelling AT him, I was expressing my frustration. But, of course, he didn't know that. I instantly regretted doing that, and saw the utter stupidity (not to mention the potential harm I could inflict on my son) in acting like that while reading a friggin' Zen book. I apologized to him, gave him a kiss, and asked him what he needed. I can honestly say that, in the past, while I would have come to the same conclusion, I probably would have indulged my self-righteous anger and let it rip a bit more. Only after all that would I have felt like a total schmuck. At least today, I had that realization (of being a schmuck) a lot sooner. As my practice matures and progresses, I have faith that I won't even get to that point.

    So, as I finally got to this chapter, I realize that Joko's "row boat" analogy was quite apt. My son was simply an empty row boat doing what it does and was unfortunate to crash into my boat - my very full boat! However, I instantly saw that he was an empty boat and tried to mend both our boats. It worked out okay, because as I write this post, my son is playing all around me, being a bit loud, asking me questions, and showing me what he's made. However, I am not so wrapped up in myself now, and I have taken many breaks from composing this long-winded post to listen and talk to him. We both deserve that.

    So, enough of this verbosity! Someone else post!


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    I can honestly say that, in the past, while I would have come to the same conclusion, I probably would have indulged my self-righteous anger and let it rip a bit more. Only after all that would I have felt like a total schmuck. At least today, I had that realization (of being a schmuck) a lot sooner.
    Hi Keith,

    Thank you for your story. I think a good portion of our Precepts practice is to realize that we are naturally 'schmucks', and to do so early in our schmucky conduct.

    Gassho, Jundo the Schmuck

  4. #4

    do not be angry

    Hello Keith:

    I think it was Urug, in another forum, who told a very interesting story with regard to an experience with anger (he overheard other's comments about a situation he had no control over, but was being held responsible for--while he was sitting in meditation!) Talk about sitting on the zafu as if your head were on fire!!

    You both express these moments so well!

    Culture seems to have a love/hate relationship with anger. I've put in more than my two cents worth on the topic in other places here on the forum.

    One of my teachers would get angry--quite quite angry: but it was all reigned in--instead of unleashing it and giving it any words--he would deeply gassho to the person (on more than one occasion, that would be me!) involved at the time, and say 'is that so?"

    I don't think I would have 'caught' the moment had he been without any emotion. Maybe...I'm pretty any rate, to have my usually sweet-tempered/smart-mouthed/always joking around teacher
    be so obviously full of fury was a jolt! As effective as any kyosaku's thirty blows!

    To get a student's attention...yes indeed.

    I think from what you wrote and what Urug wrote--in these stories, what you both describe in a way is your getting your own attention through the situation.

    Anyway, thank you both!


  5. #5
    Thanks for sharing the story Keith, I found it very helpful. I appreciate your realization about learning to catch unskillful behavior sooner. . . very inspiring as it is something I see mirrored in my own life/practice.

    So Jundo thinks we're all schmucks huh? I plead guilty. I hate to say this because it's likely to bite me on the ass., but, I think I'm getting a handle on anger, I used to be so consumed with it, I'm learning to see things in a different light and let go of a lot of the expectations that I used to have which created it. I just don't get pissed off as much as I used to and I know my practice and study of Buddhism is the reason for this. Great chapter, but I don't feel like I can add much to the discussion here. I just think anger is a byproduct of holding onto unrealistic expectations, its a karmic payback for delusion.

    I still have my own share to trials, tribulations, and delusions. . . I see that I'm a schmuck in many areas (insecure, lazy lecherous drunken bastard that I am), but still choose to continue acting like one. Perhaps seeing this is a step in the right direction.

  6. #6

    I read this chapter a couple of times and didnít really know what to say about it off the top of my head, so I started to think about the nature of my own anger. Somehow, I still wasnít satisfied. All I could come up with seemed a bit artificial and contrived, too intellectual and not emotional enough. After all, anger is an emotion, isnít it? So I tried to become angry by thinking about situations in the past in which I had become angry. I can remember them well, but no matter how recent or remote, no matter whether I perceived the situation as a great injustice or a small annoyance, I seem unable to become sincerely angry just by thinking about it. Then I started wondering whether that applies to all emotions. At least for me, the answer seems to be no. I can easily make myself laugh, or if I conjure up certain real situations in my mind from my past or even fantasies which never actually occurred I can get myself to cry or have strong feelings of compassion. I guess anger isnít a very strong emotion for me anymore, although it certainly used to be when I think back. Ouch! Whether thatís due to my Practice, my age, my current life situation, etc. is impossible to say. However, when I think back, itís only been the last few years in which I seem to have stopped experiencing feelings of rage, and if something does happen make me a little upset the feeling seems to subside with me very quickly. Funny, I never noticed it until now. That's about the same time I started to practice seriously. Coincidence? Having said that, I do get annoyed by little things more often than Iíd like to, but Iím usually able to just observe those annoyances for what they are and not react outwardly on them. Strangely enough, it seems to be the opposite of what Joko mentioned about finding the point where we get angry and being able to push that further and further away. For small disturbances and little annoyances, that point seems to be quite close to me, but for bigger things its somehow far away.


  7. #7
    The forum ate my post. I suppose I should know better than to leave the window open for hours at a time. Karma?

  8. #8

    do not be angry

    Hello Justin:
    You have my sympathies, as you can see from other entries in which I relay a rendition of the same song: the forum ate my post!

    It's a bit daunting to have impermanence flaunted so unexpectedly in one's face!


  9. #9
    What really jumped out for me, reading this chapter, was that I'm actually perfectly capable of cussing out an empty rowboat until the cows come home.

    Actually, my worst outbursts of temper are probably "empty rowboat" situations - the last few times I've really lost it were all when my computer malfunctioned. When my iPod software crashed I spent more time swearing than I did Googling the problem and fixing it. And I punched the printer after I got an electric shock unplugging it. How ridiculous is that?

    Joko starts this chapter by saying she's discussing the precept "Do not be angry." How have other people heard the 9th precept described? Does anyone know of a good explanation of what it means to keep this precept?

  10. #10
    Good questions Paige. . . . I'm not sure what it means to "keep a precept" either, I guess from a very rigid perspective we could say that keeping a precept would mean to adhere to as a sort of guideline that we don't cross. . .but, perhaps this makes the precepts commandments more or less and I don't believe such an interpretation is quite right.

    On a related note, I came across a teaching about anger today from listening to a podcast, (Zen is Stupid) they were talking about Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching that in order to overcome anger we cannot push it away, but must simply stop watering the seeds of anger in our lives. In a way we must embrace the source of our anger and by recognizing it we put it in check and it eventually looses its power over us. It's a good teaching methinks.

  11. #11
    According to one of Joko's dharma heirs, Ezra Bayda, it can be helpful to recreate an angry situation that you encountered during the day. In the actual situation you often don't have time to deal with angry responses. It's often best to say nothing at the time. You can recreate and even exaggerate the responses (the angry thoughts etc.) later in your meditation practice. The thoughts might come up anyway. I found this useful when I had a terrible fit of jealousy onetime,


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