Most of my anger has left me by now. Only a few things and people can still provoke it (if I’m not being sufficiently watchful), and then I realize how debilitating it is. I thought of this post this morning, when I read something an excerpt from Pema Chodron, from her book Practicing Peace in Times of War:
I often wondered why it is that when I get hooked, when I’m resentful for example, and I breathe with it instead of acting out, it feels like I’m sitting in the middle of the fire. I asked Kongtrul Rinpoche about this. He said, “Because by not doing the habitual thing, you’re burning up the seeds of aggression.” As each individual works with it in this way, it’s not just a minor thing. It’s an opportunity we’re given not only to connect with the inexpressible goodness of our minds and our hearts, but also to dissolve aggression in the world.
Eventually one comes to see that all Being is inseparable, and the person who provokes and the one who gets angry are inseparable. Why bother?
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands.
To keep my loneliness warm
Two hands, protecting,
Two hands, nourishing,
Two hands preventing
My soul from leaving me in anger.
–Thich Nhat Hanh
So….anger. So many different kinds, so many different uses. Yes, I did say uses. Someone I love told me she’d had a horrible fight with her husband recently, and felt “eviscerated.” That’s a good word, I think; it’s certainly how I feel when I have a fight with my husband, and as I thought about this, I compared it to the difference in “fights.” Or arguments. Anger. I fight with my husband. I fight with my daughter. I argue with some authority figure in my life. Someone does something unfair, and sometimes I can do something about it–or I tell myself I can–and sometimes I can’t. Carol Tavris, in “Anger, the Misunderstood Emotion,”…
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