Anger and compassion

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    From: Anger and compassion, 2008, June 21, Saturday

    Foreword: this is a session often referred to by many members afterwards. It started from how to deal with personal emotion of anger, evolved to its underlying relation with compassion, and the larger reality we’re in.

    Stim Morane: Okay. Well anyway, I was just thinking perhaps what is unnecessarily rigid about anger could be seen and leavened with some play
    Stim Morane: Play needn’t be silly, although perhaps silliness is good too. The question is whether play can restore us to reality.

    Rajah Yalin: anger disappears through understanding
    Stim Morane: Yes, can you say more re that?
    Rajah Yalin: who do you think makes you angry?
    Rajah Yalin: when it comes down to it, the one making you angry is you
    Stim Morane: oh good, now we’re getting into the specifics
    Stim Morane: Please proceed, Rajah.
    Rajah Yalin: anger is work of the mind - good to get rid of the anger is to meditate during time of the anger.. try to understand ‘why has mymind made me angry? what could I do instead?’, etc.
    Stim Morane: Yes. This is where the “play” might come in, for instance.
    Rajah Yalin: yep

    Stim Morane: In any case, good. Do you have some thoughts about this,Bertrum?
    Bertrum Quan: i wonder how one separares play from reality–they seem one in the same to me…
    Stim Morane: Well said.
    Stim Morane: But there are many types of play, and perhaps some are more expressive of reality than others. Do you agree?
    Bertrum Quan: no.
    Stim Morane: Good.
    Stim Morane: Please expand.
    Bertrum Quan: how, for example can you separate an imaginative thought from an observational thought– a cyber knife to the mind? the mind is all one… being
    Stim Morane: Bertrum, what I meant is that in traditional contemplative teachings, it is indeed said that the “reality” at issue in the practice has its own playful character. So then the idea would be to “play” in a way that explicitly reflects that higher “play”.
    Bertrum Quan: semantics… you can categorize… but it’s
    Bertrum Quan: it’s possible to distinguish but it is a construct…
    Bertrum Quan: that just my take on it…
    Stim Morane: Yes, i begin to see. I was considering this in a particular way, admittedly only one of many.
    Stim Morane: Thanks.
    Stim Morane: My comments were related to certain points in Vajrayana and other Buddhist teachings, but we shouldn’t reduce “reality” to theirview.
    Stim Morane: On the other hand, I was mentioning “reality” in the context of addressing Pia’s concern about dealing with anger. IT would be good if we had a way of helping with that.
    Stim Morane: Rajah’s comments, for instance, were along that line …

    Stim Morane: Adams, any thoughts?
    Adams Rubble: I had a thought after Rajah spoke
    Adams Rubble: that if I hold on to my anger than it is me who is making me angry
    Adams Rubble: but initial anger is not caused from me
    Stim Morane: Yes, I think so.
    Adams Rubble: I can eliminate some from understanding
    Adams Rubble: but there are things that might me angry beyond my understanding
    Stim Morane: but your point about “holding on” is important, a good starting place
    Adams Rubble: I can only let that anger go
    Stim Morane: Yes. How?
    Adams Rubble: by not holding on to it
    Stim Morane: Ha!
    Adams Rubble: awareness of it 
    Stim Morane: This gets us into many issues re the self again, I’m afraid. The angry self is by def not aware, not interested in letting go eithher.

    After Adams expressed her views, Bertrum responded.

    Bertrum Quan: may I suggest an alternative?
    Stim Morane: Oh, please, Bertrum.
    Bertrum Quan: i’m not sure that the anger is actually cause outside of the mind—it’s all one. so in that sense anger is an emotion that makes up the whole.
    Stim Morane: Could you expand … I’m not sure I get you yet.
    Bertrum Quan: it actually may come down one’s capacity for compassion
    Stim Morane: yes, that’s certainly related.
    Bertrum Quan: no one makes you angry in this sense…
    Stim Morane: It would be good if we ended up getting to compassion, or even weaving it in along the way.
    Stim Morane: Yes, no one makes us be angry, especially in the sense of holding on to it after the onset.
    Stim Morane: So we’re back to letting go …
    Stim Morane: the traditional comment is simply that it’s a codependent thing, many factors, outside “us” and inside “us”. But ultimately it’s our responsibility to let go.

    Bertrum Quan: i heard a story by a monk who was terribly tortured…a true story… what he felt was not anger but compassion
    Stim Morane: Yes, Bertrum. This happened with several of my Tibetan Teachers too.
    Adams Rubble: Could you expand on the monk story?
    Stim Morane: That needn’t mean that anger didn’t ever arise, but that compassion took over very fast.
    Pia Iger: what kind of compassion, towards to whom?
    Stim Morane: At whom are you angry?
    Stim Morane: Anyway, you were saying, Bertrum …?
    Bertrum Quan: well, as he told the story…this was in Tibet, and in prison there, the guards did unspeakable things to him… a cattle prod in his mouth–knocking out all of his teeth… he did not feel anger but compassion. his compassion grew deeper with each torture.
    Adams Rubble: oh physical torture
    Stim Morane: Yes, this may well be a story about one of my teachers.
    Stim Morane: But we needn’t assume there was never a second of anger … the issue is what then?
    Bertrum Quan: to me this means that anger is one example of of largger suffering…
    Adams Rubble: How could he feel compassion to his torturers
    Bertrum Quan: of human suffering—
    Stim Morane: Yes. I agree, Bertrum.

    Bertrum Quan: Adams, that is what draws me to Buddhist thinking… it’s a paradox.
    Stim Morane: We could illustrate by taking a more ordinary case. Andams, has anyone ever done something to you that would tend to make you angry, but that also shows you the larger suffering or “ignorance” of that
    person himself?
    Stim Morane: This is what looms large for someone like the monk mentioned here.
    Stim Morane: It’s not so paradoxical. It’s just about holding to a larger perspective that includes others even while we ourselves are being bugged.

    Adams Rubble: I have much less serious irritations
    Adams Rubble: in fact almost embarrassing to relate
    Stim Morane: Yes?
    Adams Rubble: but I have a neighbor who has a barking dog
    Adams Rubble: when anyone in the neighborhood comes into their yard
    Adams Rubble: the neighbor lets out the dog
    Adams Rubble: who barks and barks for hours
    Stim Morane: this is indeed a very irritating thing.
    Stim Morane: Ordinarily, it would make total sense to be angry about that, and only angry!
    Adams Rubble: I can’t understand why the neighbor does this

    Stim Morane: Because he/she is “ignorant” of the larger reality we’re in. This is reason for compassion. But I admit it’s a very irritating case.
    Bertrum Quan: it may be to transcend irritation. we do the best we can. the monk in the story i related was enlightened…
    Bertrum Quan: hard to transcend
    Stim Morane: It’s just a matter of priorities. If you see that you are in a larger dimension that should be respected and acknowledged, and if you see that anger occludes that, then it’s no so hard.
    Stim Morane: And the “other person” is part of that dimension, and you have compassion for him/her.

    Stim Morane: Then you call the police to complain about the dog.
    Adams Rubble: :)
    Adams Rubble: haha
    Stim Morane: Actually, first you’d try talking with the person, but I’ve met many such neighbors and it usually doesn’t work.
    Adams Rubble: I appreciate the wisdom of what you said about the larger dimension
    Stim Morane: Yes, without that, it would just come down to suppressing anger, which is silly.
    Bertrum Quan: that’s what we all strive for anyway
    Stim Morane: Compassion in the sense Bertrum is mentioning is explicitly an acknowledgement of that larger dimension … “compassion” is actually part of that.
    Stim Morane: It’s not just an attitude on our part.

    These latter comments are drawn from traditional Mahayana Buddhist views of compassion.

    Bertrum Quan: yes, that is the point.
    Stim Morane: This is explicitly stated in the very definition of compassion in that tradition. But it has to be distinguished from ordinary compassion.
    Adams Rubble: could you expand on that?
    Adams Rubble: the difference that is
    Stim Morane: on the ordinary level, we could indeed feel the arising of anger. Thoughts and passions are allowed to arise, based on codependent arising. Then it’s our turn to take responsibility for the larger dimension we are all in, and to make sure that anger does not persist and thus occlude what should be respected

    Stim Morane: EVen an “enlightened” person can be the locus of anger …she just doesn’t let it take over or continue. But this is asking a lot.I wonder if we can find a practical, closer-to-home level of implementation.

    Adams Rubble: Yes. But you seemed to say there are two kinds of compassion, or levels
    Stim Morane: Yes, there are several types of compassion.

    Stim Morane: The bodhisattva type is specifically rooted in what Buddhists would call reality itself, not in our own ordinary mind.
    Stim Morane: This is not an idealistic fantasy. IT’s very true.
    Bertrum Quan: in the larger sense there’s Compassion related to universal suffering….. there’s also compassion as a feeling, an emotion
    Stim Morane: yes, the emotion case is not what we are now recommending. That would just be swapping one emotion for another, which is not the issue.
    Stim Morane: So you are quite right.
    Stim Morane: Anyway, this is a big subject, and we may have to stop for now.
    Adams Rubble: I have much to think about, thank you
    Pia Iger: thanks, Stim. much to think off.
    Stim Morane: I’m sorry I have to go, but am grateful that each of you came and participated in the discussion.
    Adams Rubble: I am very glad I came
    Pia Iger: me, too. I felt I am directed to another direction, or new dimension.

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