« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2011, 08:20:24 PM »
I find this topic inspiring. I experienced for a long time a great deal of anger. Through taking refuge and practicing in my home (despite few to no Buddhists in my immediate vicinity) I've come to regard anger very differently when I directly experience it now than when I used to just feel it.
I agree anger is almost an ironic emotion because it expresses the opposite of what it needs. Once that part clicked for me, the rest has been soooo much simpler. Really anger wants someone "to fix it". It is insecurity expressing itself in the form of needing in a desperately grasping manner that is destructive and much like the little king inside having a temper tantrum. That's how my anger was at least.
Here's how the process would happen for me:
-skin flushes heart beat accelerates
-my head feels "hot"
-words flow through me like a torrent of blame and spitting accusation
-time burns the edge off the lit fuse
-I 'come down' and then I can think clearly again
For a long time I waited to the point of the head feeling hot before I even realized, "OH, I'm experiencing anger now" and through various therapies learned to recognize it before it got to that point. I learned something about anger. The split second before the gut tensing (the first part in how I start to get upset) there is a jab, like a sense of doubt, like "what's going on?" you know that stab of fear that you get when you don't know what's behind the door in a dark room in your spooky mind.
I call it the spooky mind, you know the part that that both doubts and is superstitious. It's the part that speculates and makes up reasons for things because you don't REALLY know now do you if there really is something behind the door. But there's the reasoning part in you that negotiates, it's surely no such thing, there are perfectly good explantations for everything. But that part of you also doesn't know 100% and it fools you by assuming that YOU should know to begin with... like you're all-knowing? But then why do you make reasons like you should have to know... if you don't, you don't, there's no shame.
I realized this too, if I don't know why is my mind always making me anticipate like I should know? The frustration that comes from the insanity of needing to know what happens next results in my own personality and cluster of aggregates as anger. I've learned to look at myself as I'm getting angry and I see my three year old daughter crying when she gets scared of whatever her mind makes up, "Mommy, I want iss'ok"
When I could stop before the anger process finished itself out and realize that the real reason I was angry in the moment was a complete frustration with my own inadequacy at dealing with what the situation what throwing at me, I learned to just pause and breathe.
What attracted me to Rinpoche's style is this very quality he has to come back to the simple brass tacks of the situation at hand. No matter who's wrong or right, who's bleeding right now from the heart? Who needs to be told everything is ok, they can heal themselves, they are the doctors for their suffering if they can accept that their being human sometimes hurts a lot... and he always comes back to the solid factors in the situation which we can address directly, the ways we can apply our intentions and get involved with our communities. He always wants to know who needs to be helped with finding a better way to handle this kind of situation that pushes those anger buttons?
So the dharma taught me that by observing my own anger, it wasn't so much a matter of fighting the anger, that would be impossible, like mentioned earlier in training dogs, correcting them whilst they're not all in their "right mind" is not productive. Instead, much better to find out like an explorer going where no other has gone before, in YOUR mind, what happens when I am inadequate?
When I am inadequate, I've expected ridiculous things from myself, I've treated myself poorly, and I've learned from my mistakes. When I'm inadequate it feels like the world is caving in, but then I stop and notice how the breath keeps going. Adequacy is about as relevant to the breath as the empire state building is to an amoeba in the ocean. So then I can pause, right? What's there keeping me on some false momentum, I can pause in that inadequacy and really taste how foul it smells, it's just a generally BAD feeling. But that's all it is. A feeling. Like a smell that wafts in occupies all your smellsense and then goes, and where's the smell now?
I realized I am the sky, not the clouds that drift by in my daily sky. I AM the sky, that means I am nothing more than open space. I've learned to not only feel gentle with my anger, but treat it with love and I tell myself like I tell my child, my rescued doggie, and my cat, "It's ok, baby, mama's right here. What is scaring you?" And then I find out, and then the anger is dissolved in seconds. It is something I know anyone can do if only they are pointed as to where to look. Tension has a map in your body and mind and you can recognize it. You are in fact, the only person who has the key to your anger.
I learned that by sitting deep in the heart of the knot, and I let it hurt. I realized I've always been this pure-rising of consciousness, not this whole self I've constructed, I'm not quite what I seem, as neither are any of you. You are pure-risings of truth experiencing being human. It is a precious gift, I finally realized, not because there is good with the bad, but because without the experiencing human-ness there is no awakening. If it arises it can be made perfectly useful to the mind it arises in.
I believe your anger is the heart of the answer of your mind's deepest fear. When you can embrace and hold your anger like you would an incredibly delicate little child or puppy, you can see that with love, everything that breathes relaxes into that simplicity of being.
I rescued a dog before Christmas and I have to give him medicated baths for mange. He is terrified and I am firm like a rock, but never harsh, so I soothe him that it's ok, he leans into me and I know he understands I'm just trying to help. He could get angry, my other dog would, but what for? Why fight? It is what it is, the only thing we can do is breathe into it and find the heart where it's most broken and then tap into that strength we still hold that comes from that softness, and then use THAT very kind part of our heart to cradle our anger, and then we can see what happened. We can understand what parts we felt insecure in and covered it up with reasons till we couldn't anymore and it was just anger, a blind raging inability to just change something we can't see and a kind of impotence. Even a dog without words can understand how much it sucks, and even without words can understand you're trying to help. This dog has now chosen me as his person. So he is by my side, when I got sick last week, I was coughing, and he came by me, ruffed up a spot in front of me and lay down, with his head into me. He was saying, I'm here. You were there for me, I'm here for you.
Anger is no different. If you're there for it, it just kind of turns into kindness, it's interesting, try it! Anger is a reaction to impotence of agency. That is we can't act on our own behalf because we don't know how to help ourselves.
The truth is we're just ignorant and chasing ghosts, blaming the wife or the husband or society, but really we are seeking a simple answer. We're ignorant the way children just don't know. No fault or blame needed, it is just a stage of growth, it always is.
So how do we come to it. My simple questions in my daily routines have been why does this hurt and how do I make it stop? It's not simple, but it's as simple as one breath at a time, and for me that has been the only successful plan, so perhaps it's why the dharma worked to really teach me how embrace the anger and not give into it, instead to channel that energy into other kinds of more skillful wrath, to act on behalf of those who have no voice or power, like children and animals across the globe.
That is not the same as anger that rises in response to our own frustration so much as the anger that rises within the mother trying to save her child from accidentally killing, as many a child does not realize fully that what breathes also struggles and also dies. The latter anger is not an anger for self, but for the protection of life itself.
All life is precious. All kindness counts. That's as far as I've gotten. It's not much, but it's a start. My anger has drastically slimmed down since realizing this little bit. I have more strength and less angst, don't get me wrong, I still experience anger at times, I'm still learning, but overall, I trust that it's ok, I'll be gentle and get to the bottom of it, I don't have to destroy anything. Just be patient and persevere.