The Zen of Anger

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It would be ludicrous to think that as a practitioner of yoga meditation I don’t get angry. In fact, my inclination toward getting annoyed is one of the reasons I am so dutiful with my practice. If we follow the DISC personality typing, I am an “I”–which means Influence–but, it can also mean Impulsive!  However, the same energy that is the source of my strengths is also the source of my lesser strengths.

This morning I got angry with my son–the people that we are closest to can be the source of our greatest joy.  Paradoxically, they can be the catalyst of our greatest frustration!  I have a lot invested in my son–he is after all, my son.  With an investment comes an expectation.  When the investment does not yield a return it is a disappointment.  This investment is an attraction and the disappointment is an aversion.

According to the Yoga Sutras, both attraction (raga) and aversion (dvesha) are two faces of the same coin–attachment.  Both of these stem from a lack of knowledge of our true nature (avidya)–our true nature is perennial, not ephemeral.  However, the nature of the physical world is transient.  We cling to the things and experiences of the physical world that we love.  We push away the things and experiences that we abhor.  But, both the pushing and pulling cause us suffering (dukha or dukkha).

I am attracted to my son doing what I believe is best for me, he does something other than that, my attraction to my expectation is not met, I experience disappointment, my disappointment is a form of suffering.  To the unmastered mind, all worldly experiences yield suffering because they are impermanent.  However, this does not have to be the case.

When we are rooted in our true nature from earnest abhyasa and vairagya (practice and non-attachment) then we are aware of the fleeting nature of our experiences and we can be released from the suffering of attraction and aversion.  It does not mean we are apathetic or ambivalent–I am still going to parent my child–with the hope that he leads a skillful and happy life.  But, I am working on not expecting him to do what I want.  We still have rules.  If he breaks them, he is punished.  But, now it’s not a big emotional tirade–because I didn’t get what I want.

Today I got angry, I felt the blood pump and my temperature rise.  But, I was very aware that this was a bodily experience and not who I am at the core; moreover, not an emotion I have to act on.  I didn’t resist the anger–that is aversion–I just let it come.  I went for a drive and returned as the person I want to be.

6 thoughts on “The Zen of Anger

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