Feeeeelings, nothing more

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A week or so back in the discussion of my post Severed Ties, some of the usual suspects and I were having a discussion about what is the role, if any, for feelings in our Buddhist practice.  It’s an interesting topic because I think there is a lot of misunderstanding that happens when it comes to how deal with our feelings when our ultimate goal is to go, go, completely go, completely and perfectly go beyond them.

One of the things I’ve noticed since I’ve left the New Kadampa Tradition is that I’m once again being OK with simply experiencing what I’m experiencing in terms of feelings, and not trying to transform them into something virtuous, or ignore them by telling myself they are just merely delusions arising from my self-grasping, self-cherishing mind. 

They’re tricky little buggers, those feelings.  On one hand, like the other four aggregates (aka  skandhas), feeling is empty of inherent existence.  Its nature is impermanent, insubstantial, temporary.  I mean, honestly, where are these feelings that feel so damn real?  Can you point to them?  What ever happened to that intense feelings you had for that cute boy or girl from junior high?  How is it that this person you loved so completely this morning, is now the object of your fury tonight?

OK, great, they’re empty.  So, I can just ignore them, right?  Sure, you can try that and see how far you get.  Pour yourself a drink, or pop yourself another Valium.  Enjoy your stress-related heart attack.  Or say hello to Mr. Depression.  So, from a Buddhist perspective, what in the hell do we do?

As usual when it comes to such juicy spiritual matters, I turned to my friend, whom I shall call Daniel.  Because, well, that’s his name.

LB: So, dude, I totally lost it today at the car wash.  After I had put in my code for my car wash, this woman in front of me who had just finished her wash, rolled her damn SUV back and triggered another wash – my wash! I was so pissed.  I followed her out after she finished MY wash and confronted her telling her she had used my wash, and that she owed me $5.00.  Needless to say, it was not a very effective conversation.  I made a damn fool of myself and never got my car washed.

I mean, I recognize that my mind was out of control, and that the anger served no practical purpose.  But, I gotta tell  you, there was no way I was going to “offer the victory” because what she was doing was wrong.   Now according to everything I’ve learned about anger in my studies, basically I’ve burnt a boatload of merit, and I’ve set myself up for a hell realm.  So, would I have been better off if I just swallowed that anger?

[dhp] Well – swallowing is good most guys like that.  On the other hand swallowing anger usually just leads to an upset stomach.  I love your story because it shows so clearly how even when we are right (after all she really did mess up YOUR wash right?) we can still be wrong ~ because out of our ignorance (our dear friend) we constantly confuse the object of our anger with our feeling.  Two completely unrelated phenomenon except that they are both crashing together in our minds. 

LB: As usual, it all comes down to my self-grasping mind, aka our BFF, ignorance.  And I admit it, I’m pretty damn ignorant, which leads me to think the cause of my anger was that rude bitch who took my car wash instead recognizing that anger arises from my mind, and that there is nothing inherently piss-off worthy about that gas-guzzler driving, car-wash stealing wench. Sure, if I were free from ignorance, I’d recognize that this woman was my kind teacher showing me the negativity that I have created and which is ripening in a meaningful lack of $5.  Great. Freeing myself from ignorance is high on my to-do list, but it just ain’t happened yet.  So, I’ve got these feelings, in this case, anger.  What do you do with it?

[dhp] So we’ve already ruled out swallowing (or have we?) and beating crap out of her with your purse so that pretty much takes care of the binary bullshit SGI (self-grasping ignorance) usually crams down our throats ~ swallowing or not.  So now what, eh?  The problem is we haven’t identified the problem.  Or more specifically we think the problem is painful feeling.  Sure when some bitch steals our slot (especially if she driviin’ a Hummer, right? ~ oh there’s a theme developing here) the natural human and all too justifiable response is to want to kick her ass.  That WOULD feel good wouldn’t it?  For about 30 seconds and then all things being equal (which they never are) and you being you (which you always are) you’d end up feeling guilty as shit, flogging yourself merciless for the sake of repentance. The binary option = express or repress, clearly does not work. SO NOW WHAT? (clue = imagination is the key)

LB: I think you’re right, when strong emotions hit, and we’re unprepared there only appears to be those two options – express or repress.  However, living in earthquake country as we do, we know that advance preparation is key.  It’s pretty well inevitable that an earthquake is going to get us eventually, so we prepare in advance.  So when the house starts a-shakin’ we know how to ride that bad boy out.  In the case of our mind, meditation is the preparation that helps us better weather the mental earthquakes.  Yet, while I may be quite well prepared for a 6.0 on the Richter scale, an 8.0 will probably render all my preparation for naught.

Is the key just keep making a bigger and better earthquake kit?  Move out of earthquake country all together?  To where?  Hurricane country?  Tornado alley?  You can’t outrun the suffering. So, here I am, finding myself over my head with some strong feeling – anger, greed, lust, etc.  A real 8.0 on the emotional Richter scale.  I guess the smart thing to do would be to stop, drop and cover and wait for the shaking to stop.  The ol’ turn your mind to wood trick. Then what?  And I’m afraid I’m a bit clueless about your clue – imagination is the key.  Unless you’re saying I should imagine that she is a Buddha or Bodhisattiva and therefore I wouldn’t even think of getting up in her grill and saying “bitch! you stole my car wash!” 

[dhp] Nice.  I say all of the above especially the last part ~ I will explain later.  In the meantime the goal is not to outrun suffering but to transform it, right?  So who says that ain’t gonna be a slightly uncomfortable process?  Pain is not the enemy.  Imagine (see what I mean?) sticking your hand in a fire and feeling nothing – or worse ~ feeling pleasure (sound familiar?).  Pain is a blessing because it alerts us to the fact the something is wrong.  So rather than pushing mental pain (aka negative feelings) away we need to train (both in and out of meditation) our minds to work with mental pain in an imaginative and ultimately beneficial way.  Then we are not only creating the causes for good times for us, but for others as well.

LB: One of the things I learned recently while dabbling in Theravadan meditation and teachings is to simply just notice the emotion, without trying to transform it or change it in any way.  Just developing an awareness of what is going without judgment.  I think the “without judgment” is key.  My experience from my Kadampa days was that we put a hell of a lot of judgment on ourselves and others for their negative states of minds or actions.  Judgment never feels good so people tried to cover up their faults and ended up just acting spiritual rather than being authentic.  Frankly, with people being all nicey nicey all the time, it doesn’t give you much to work with in terms of developing true love and compassion.  Give me some assholes, now that is going to work my spiritual chops. 

[dhp] Now we are getting somewhere . . . so . . . . true or false? = We must experience the effects of our actions (sooner or later) and can only experience the effects of action we have created. 

LB: What is this? A Karma 101 quiz? The effects of our actions are certain – unless, of course we purify.  And, true, we can only experience the effects of the actions we have created. And your point is, my quizzicle friend? 

[dhp] If you find yourself up in someone’s grill (as at the car wash) then of course it is that some one’s karma, right?  But it is also your delusion too, right?  So then how do you reconcile these two points: “Give me some assholes, now that is going to work my spiritual chops.”  “Getting up in someone’s grill doesn’t tend to work all that well.” 

LB: I think it’s one thing to notice the rage that is burning a hole in your soul and quite another to act on it.  Harming another, no matter they have created the karma to be harmed,  goes against a pretty basic Buddhist ideals. 

So, I guess, ideally, we have enough training under our belt in awareness/mindfulness that we can recognize that what we’re feeling arises from our own mind, and enough curiosity to stop and say “hey, what the hell is all this about? My goodness, I seem to be feeling rather homicidal over what? My isn’t that interesting, and frankly a bit silly.”  But, if it gets away from us and we allow our out of control emotions to harm others, the best we can do is to learn from the experience by recognizing the harm that we have done to others, and the further suffering we have caused ourselves.

[dhp] then are you saying that it is kind to hide the effects of karma from others?

LB: Actually, I would say that I’m protecting them from increasing that negative karma.  Chances are, they would just get more pissed off and end up harming someone, namely me.  So, it’s a win-win.

[dhp] so if we don’t have painful experience then how do we learn? 

LB: I suppose the best we can do is to learn from the experience by recognizing the harm that we have done to others, and the further pain we have caused ourselves. We can’t avoid painful experiences, it’s the very nature of this mess we’re in.  But, if we recognize and become thoroughly acquainted with this pain, through training our mind we can decrease our suffering.  What is the saying?  Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

[dhp] and so the question is? 

LB: Asked and answered.  Case closed. 

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35 responses »

  1. Wow!

    Yup, I think you’ve summed it up. I’m in complete agreement.

    Your earthquake analogy is a great one. At this point, I (and I assume you too) are not at the point where we can control these powerful feelings all the time. However, we can train ourselves not to act upon them. With enough practice, we’ll gain greater control over them.

    Thich Nat Hahn is a great one to read on this subject, especially his book “Anger”. There he advises not trying to suppress one’s anger, but to rather look after it, like one would a baby.

    Your anger is your baby. When your baby is crying, you go look after it. You take care of it. You acknowledge it and then separate yourself so that you can deal with it. You don’t ignore it, and you don’t react to it.

    I’ve found this a very effective way of thinking about how to cope with that particular delusion.

    And if someone like Thich Nat Hahn still has powerful negative feelings that he needs to take care of now and then, well then the pressure is definitely off you and me. We don’t have to feel too bad if we’re still being knocked about by delusions.

    Regarding the NKT, I think GKG offers useful techniques in suggesting focussing on the opposing force (with anger, it’s patience, etc.). But this is one area where I’ve found reading Thich Nat Hahn to be much more helpful.

    As much as I admire GKG’s presentation of the dharma, let’s face it, sometimes the answers lie in other books.

  2. I don’t know if I can ever be enlightened.

    When some wench in a shiny black muscle car ran me off the road today so that the little blue car and I ended up taking out 3 or 4 construction barrels, and then she tried to ‘run’ (which was hard for her in traffic jam traffic), my pingpong fear (going through it and then thinking about having gone through it and then thinking about how much worse it could have been and….) when I got back on the road and my limp down the exit ramp at a point where I was ‘even’ with her a couple of lanes over, I BLEEEEEEWWWWWWW my horn and pointed (index finger) (top was down) at her to let her know she was to blame, I knew I was compelled to make SOME such gesture acknowledging that she didn’t get away with it — however, it did nothing to make me less freaked out, adrenalined, or upset-angry.

    Indeed, I carried those feeling on up the stop and go traffic on the surface road and yelled at a few more people (a habit which I’ve worked SO hard to overcome)… and when I got home and told of my fearful experience to my daughter, she was more afraid of my doing such again, the honking and pointing, as she said I was more likely to get hurt by someone for doing that than running off the road and through barrels. She used to live in LA and says my actions would only have invited a gun blast to my person.

    But why should that lady think she can act like that and there are no consequences?

    I would have preferred to squeeze her until her eyeballs popped out. That would show her 🙂

    Feeling better having pictured that,
    Shu

  3. Hi all —

    I gotta dash to work, but I couldn’t resist adding this timely bit from Pema Chodron’s No Time To Lose, her commentary on Shantideva’s Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (highly recommended):

    “Bodhisattva’s practice “in the middle of the fire.” This means they enter into the suffering of the world; it also means they stay steady with the fire of their own painful experience. They neither act them out nor repress them. They are willing to stay “on the dot” and explore an emotions ungraspable qualities and fluid energies — and to let that experience link them to the pain and courage of others.”

  4. I find this topic totally facinating. I have read it twice now, simply to make sure I was getting it all, and will probably read again (just to make sure). Some of the ideas and philosaphies here are somewhat foriegn to me I must admit. Having come from a very Christian background, the idea of Karma and how feelings of anger, or joy for that matter, all fit together. As for feelings being temparary, I think I get that part, although there are some feelings in this life I don’t ever want to stop feeling. Perhaps the pursuit of those feelings is a worthy goal for me.

    In the end, perhaps I might learn somethig about myself, and who know, maybe others. I’ll certain have to give this a lot more thought.

  5. I too found this post fascinating, and will probably read through it several more times. I’ve only just started studying Buddhism, so I can’t begin to put all things in a Buddhist perspective, but I think that even if you can manage your anger, it is still important to confront the lady, in a peaceful manner, and demand your money back. I was trying to find a quote from Gandhi, but I couldn’t find one, but essentially, just because you don’t believe in violence does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t stand up for what is right. You may not “win” in the sense of getting your $5 back, but you can stand up for what is right, still act without anger, and possibly make a small impression on her that will modify her action in the future. For me personally, the times that I was able to do this, without anger, felt far more rewarding than either just walking away, or having an angry confrontation.

  6. Pingback: Buddhism vs Taoism « Stumbling Down the Path

  7. Stumblingtaoist – Welcome, fellow stumbler. You’re right, the ideal situation would have been to have calmly spoken to her to point out what she had done – after all it could have been a mistake, and to firmly ask for either my $5 back, or to accompany me to speak with the clerk to explain her “mistake” and ask for my car wash. However, calm was hardly my state of mind. Part of me wanted “justice”, but another part wanted to unleash my fury (part of which had nothing to do with her, it was just the residue of a shitty day at work).

    I think you can fight for justice and involve yourself in social activism as a Buddhist – in fact I think that is part of the path. The key is motivation. I’ve been to a lot of demonstrations and marches, and what I often see is people engaging in the very same minds that they are protesting. Us vs Them is going to get us no where. So, the key is to act but with a good motivation towards ALL – not just “my” people. Wrathful actions are those actions that may look from the outside harsh and are easily mistaken for anger. However, with wrath, the motivation is protection – not only of the “victims”, but also for the perpetrator. You can think of a parent who is punishing a child for their own good as engaging in wrathful actions. It may not feel that way to the kid, but if you look at the parent’s mind, you know that the primary motivator is love, not harm.

    Adam – Karma is a tricky subject, and I don’t think there is an analogous concept in Christianity. In short, karma is the law of actions and effects. So every action you perform, you have created an effect that will be experienced at some point in the future (and that future may be in future lives). Every experience we have is caused by a previous action. So, as Daniel was saying, it was my karma to get my car wash stolen, and she also created the karma for me to get angry at her. If we got into a further argument, we would both be creating new negative karma, and we’d be getting into a big ol’ spiral of negativity. Whereas, if I didn’t react negativity, and simply accepted the results of my karma, I put a stop to it, and not create more problems for myself and her. It is tricky though.

    In short, if we want to be happy, we need to create those causes. Love, compassion, patience, generosity, etc. all lead to a happy mind, both in the short run and in the long run. Anger, jealousy, hatred, prejudice, etc. lead to an unhappy mind while we are engaging in them, and also lead to actions that will cause more unhappiness in the future.

    Shu – I’m sorry that happened to you. I would call that a 7.5 on the ol’ emotional Richter scale. It would probably have even take the Dali Lama some restraint not to give her the one finger salute.

    The nature of this existence is, basically, unfair. As much as we want things to go our way, for things to be fair, it just ain’t gonna happen all of the time. So, that’s why we need to prepare our mind for dealing with these circumstances, so that when bad things happen we don’t make things worse for ourselves and for others.

    I’m glad you’re OK and you didn’t get injured.

    Ron (aka Wisdomjunkie) – I haven’t read that much of Thich Nat Hahn, but I have a lot of admiration for him. He’s someone, with his experience in the Vietnam War, who has really walked the walk.

    Me, I’ve really been enjoy Pema Chodron. She seems to emphasize getting in touch with our own vulnerability as an important part of the path. Maybe it is a more feminine touch. It feels to me that while GKG’s presentation of Buddhist concepts is very clear, it doesn’t always acknowledge how challenging it can be in our daily lives to overcome our persistent negative minds.

  8. “it is still important to confront the lady, in a peaceful manner, and demand your money back.”
    (while)
    “getting in touch with our own vulnerability as an important part of the path”

    peacefully vulnerable sounds kinda messy and painful and pure minded to me ~ now therez a practice!

    seams to me waiting for the “calm” would be missing the moment and the poynt ~ main thing is =

    ” I am he
    As you are he
    As you are me
    And we are all together”

    sew then who is screwing whom?

  9. You’re right.

    Sometimes GKG’s books make it seem all so easy. To be frank, much of the material is pertinent only to beings well on their way to enlightenment. I spent the first year wondering if I was on the path of meditation or the path of seeing, when in truth I can locate myself somewhere in that book’s preface or introduction.

    Still, for my money, on some matters GKG is the best on the market. On this issue, he isn’t.

  10. BB Golly – raging anger -> peaceful vulnerability. Boy, that’s like slamming on the brakes when you’re going 120 mph. That’s sure to leave skid marks. Perhaps you can find that middle way on the emotional scale when dealing with a loved one, or someone you have an ongoing relationship with. But, in this circumstance? I dunno.

    I think you have to be careful with you Lennon/McCartney logic there. In an ultimate sense, sure, you betcha. However, we still have to live in the conventional word, where going off on someone while filled with murderous rage doesn’t serve anyone any good.

    Ron = My aren’t you the precocious chap. One year of Buddhist studies and you were already on the path of seeing? That cracks me up. But hey, who knows, may be you are. Today I got a teaching from Anam Thubten who called the path to enlightenment the “pathless path”. Maybe we are all a hell of a lot closer, and farther away than we thought.

  11. Wisdomjunkie – yeah, that kinda freaked me out too. I was approving a comment from myself. Woa. Perhaps there is something to BB Golly’s Beatles quote above.

    As for Anam Thubten and Vajrayana – I really don’t know. He has never really spoken about it. He really strips it down to the basics – emptiness, pure and simple – and tends to have a bit of fun at the expense of those of us who have traveled a more ritualistic, complex path. When I first started going there, there was a big ol’ thangka of a very Vajrayoginiesque dakini (though someone pointed out it wasn’t VY).

    I haven’t really figured him out in terms of tradition. He told me that he grew up in a remote part of Tibet and that they were visited by monks of all different schools, so he doesn’t really identify with one school. Plus, he is co-teaching a day course with the Theravadan teacher I’ve also been getting teachings.

  12. Hi LB, well it seems he’s fundamentally Nyingma (though he might see himself as very non-sectarian by your description). I googled this, just in case you’re interested:

    Anam Thubten Rinpoche was born in Tibet and entered into Buddhist training in the Nyingma tradition at a young age. Among his teachers, he had a special affinity toward a very inspiring Dharma teacher named Lama Tsurlo, who became his main mentor. Lama Tsurlo’s kindness and wisdom gave him the firm base to advance in his dharma practice, and still serves as a source of inspiration in his ever-unfolding love of true Dharma, as well as his work as a teacher. Anam Thubten was recognized as the reincarnation of Anam Lama, when he was quite young.

  13. “going off on someone while filled with murderous rage doesn’t serve anyone any good.”

    how do you know? eye m not ad vocating for irresponsible behavior ~ in fact quite the opposite. What does the atom bomb of love look like anwayz?

    is that a mushroom cloud in your pocket oar are you just glad to sea me?

  14. BB Golly – You’re right. I don’t have the wisdom to know the true outcome of my actions.

    Right now I’m having a chat w/ a colleague about a friend of her family’s teenage son committing suicide. At the time, he was overtaken by strong emotion and ended up hanging himself. For himself he may have created some negative karma. However, from that action, some good things may happen. Families and friends may not take each other for granted. Some, in their pain, may embark on a spiritual path. People are reaching out to their community with love and compassion. But, does that mean the action triggered it was necessarily, uh, virtuous?

  15. mixed intentions produce mixed results ~ Imagine (sound familiar) that someone sacrifices her life to save her son but does so out of attachment rather than pure love. Do we throw the virtuous baby out with the bathwater? (sorry for the mixt meta four)

    the muddle way is to generate the most virtuous intention possible under the most adverse conditions imo. suicide as virtuous sacrifice ? purty tricky stuff there ~ just ax the japanese. on the udder hand until we get it perfectly and completely correct weeze all ways gonna make miss steaks (wasn’t she a past gov of alaska?)

    so that doesn’t mean we shud all become vegetarians tho cutting back on the meat eatin is probably a good idea for us all ~ udder wise we just keep stuffin our faces with rage n burgers n it don’t take a rocket dancer to sea wear that endzup.

  16. in udder words = letter rip and then rely on the bliss of regret ~ maybe we all ways get there but itza darn good place to start

  17. awe stale crackerz ~ eye guess eye cant stop now. remember the one about the compassionate man who, upon finding a big fish on the side of the road puts it in the village pond to save it whereby said fish eats all the udder little fishyz? kinda like that eh? maybe he just shudda ate that sucka

    btw: above shud read ‘maybe we CANT all ways get there’
    eye real eye need an edit tore

  18. BB Golly – the muddle way is to generate the most virtuous intention possible under the most adverse conditions imo.

    So, you’re bringing it back to intention, which was my main point. If I’m in a rage,my intention is to beat the crap out someone, or else make them feel really bad with some harsh words. There is no good intention in that, even though, who the f*ck knows, something good may come from it. However, from my side it’s all bad news.

    You’re right, as long as we’re still lacking wisdom (and omniscience), we’re gonna screw up and sometimes screw up real good. But, if we act with good intention, at least we have a virtuous motivation on our side, right?

  19. interesting timing – eye heard Paul Ekman interviewed on KQED yesterday ~ hez gotta book out about conver say shuns hez had with the Dalai Lama re emotions

    http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Awareness-Overcoming-Psychological-Compassion/dp/0805087125/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221695

    one piece of ad vice is to avoid difficult sitchyashuns of plausible ~ good short term strategy imo but in the long run ya gotta love Big Buc’s approach of face init up strayt

  20. another side poynt was that a parent ly therez no distiction in Tibetian between feelings and emotions wear az we seem to think so. Sew maybe them Tie Bet Inns have an e z er time of it feeling wise ?

  21. Interesting, interesting, interesting. While I’m nothing resembling a Buddhist, I do think there’s a third option (other than express or repress) and that is — catch and release, for lack of a better term. 🙂

    I’m a lifelong feelings-detacher, thanks to a traumatic childhood in which anything I felt or needed was ignored or turned back on me as wrong. Of course this has left me with a volcanic well of unexpressed grief, anger, and a whole bunch of other stuff that would turn me into a mass murderer or a nutcase if I were to express it all now.

    So. What I try to do is note when I am having a strong reaction, and ask myself what it’s really about. This is so hard, when I’m in the middle of a hair-trigger response to something, but it’s not impossible. Usually it’s not about anything that’s actually happening … or not entirely … it’s about something else much bigger that doesn’t really involve the current situation. Sometimes it’s so much about something else that I’m simply able to let it go, once I’ve recognized it. And sometimes it does need to be expressed, but the question is … what’s my motivation in expressing? If it’s something valid, such as a need to draw a boundary or redress an injustice, then I’ll do it … but if I still feel my own anger and irritation as my primary motivation, then I know it’s still too much about me personally, rather than about any universal principle of interpersonal ethics.

    I haven’t read through the comments, partly because I didn’t want what I had to say to be influenced by them, so sorry if I’m being repetitive.

  22. this is a third (of a potential 1,987,321 and counting) option

    ” What I try to do is note when I am having a strong reaction, and ask myself what it’s really about. This is so hard, when I’m in the middle of a hair-trigger response to something, but it’s not impossible”

    repression ends up in deny ale and hate full expression wit out reflection ends up in sum funk A karma

    sew korn gats jewelashunz ! you gotta 3rd opshun dere ~ an derez mo wear dat came from.

  23. Hi Lazy, I was just wondering, did you figure out WHY you got angry? Lots of discussion about the arising of anger, that it’s empty, etc… which is pretty conceptual. What my teachers (vajrayana) recommend is that when strong emotion arises, you look directly at it. What generally happens when I practice is that when I look at the emotion it either dissolves (yeah, it really was empty, there it went) or, maybe I get some insight (some clue as to the mistaken belief that led to the emotional response in the first place). Insight is not conceptual, it’s like an aha!, so I can’t suggest why you got angry, but… did you figure it out? Only some possible reasons could be… believing you are a body, believing you and the bitch are separate people with competing needs, believing there is a scarcity of $5 bills and there’s no more where that one came from, or just being overly attached to those $5 bills… well, just some suggestions, but, the aha! would need to come from you when you really look into the emotion. You might be able to regenerate the emotion by going through the scenario mentally and then LOOK into the anger and see what it has to tell you. Another option to repressing or acting out – work with it to gain insight. Yours in the dharma,

  24. I’m in the NKT (Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to “win you back”) The process of “observing” the delusion you describe is outlined by Geshe-la as well, as a first step. (Ever read How to Solve Our Human Problems?) In my experience, one of the best meditations to do to counter anger is death. You wouldn’t need to do any formal meditation, just sit quitely and close your eyes, and contemplate the following.

    1. The time of my death is uncertain, the causes of death are all around me. (I asume in this instance you were near a road, so you could even imagine yourself being run over)
    2. The state of mind I am in at the time of death shall determine the realm in which I am reborn.
    3. If I die with this anger in my mind, I shall definitely take rebirth in Hell

    Then imagine yourself being killed and descending into a hell realm. This might sound like the cure is worse than the deasise, but in my expirence, I let go of the anger almost imediatly, and having done so, any anxiety about hellish rebirth disapears too, and I feal relaxed and calm. There’s still a residuum of anger there, but its more manageble, and can be delt with by formal mediations on specific oponents.

  25. LazyBuddhist,

    I randomly came across this blog and was curious about something you wrote – essentially about being “ok” with your feelings, not judging them, becoming an observer, etc…. Detachment from one’s feelings so as to not let it overpower you. Acceptance, etc. I think that’s a part of general mindfulness practice, but I wasn’t sure if you knew of practices in specific so I could focus on that (ultimately gaining power over my emotions)? I’ve read it takes years to develop, but I’m sure there are focused practices to help develop that in a bit more formal fashion. Especially in cases where feelings are intense and you let it take you over and that affects how you treat others (such as friends). Any ideas? Maybe some authors to read up on?

    Thanks,
    Tomas

  26. Tomas – You didn’t say whether or not you’re interested in Buddhist techniques, per se, or something more secular. Either way, I think you might want to explore some of the teachings and teachers of Insight Meditation (Jack Kornfield, Sylvia Boorstein, Joseph Goldstein, etc) – most of them are trained psychologists anyway. I recently read “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach, which I found really helpful. If you want something less Buddhist-y, you can’t go wrong with Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    I don’t know if “gaining power over” your emotions is necessarily the key. Emotions come and go. Some are stronger than others and pack a bigger punch, but still they are impermanent. So the key isn’t to overcome the emotions, but learn how to deal with them when they do come. The more we try to suppress them, the more they leak out in other ways – blame, anger, shame, etc. Mindfulness is the key to being able to deal with our emotions more skillfully. I think cultivating plain ol’ mindfulness will get you what you’re looking for.

    Good luck!

  27. Talking about what we think, feel and do in a situation like LB had is not relevant. What matters is how we EXPERIENCE the situation, and the goal is to experience it in an ENLIGHTENED manner. The whole idea of following the path is to be in a place where, when something like this happens, you see all the details, including your own emotional response with “blinding sight”, that is, a clear nonjudgmental awareness(NA).

    Then, YOU are in the driver’s seat, not your emotions. Easier said than done. I do not have a roadmap for being able to reach this state when you need to. My ideas on the subject would take up more space than we have here.

    Now, what does one who reacts with NA do in a situation like this? She seeks redress, not revenge. Remember that if this woman is allowed to steal your car wash, that bad karma will be returned to her. There is no self. You ARE her. You have a duty to prevent bad karma. Therefore, to prevent the creation of bad karma for both of you and for all mankind, you need to do what you can to correct the situation, including quietly, peacefully but insistently pursuing the issue. Now, if you sense greater anger or even the possibility of violence, then your responsibility would be to prevent further bad karma. You would need to back away, leaving the person with the truth, “You stole my car wash and there’s no way to get away from that.”

    Years from now, when this woman tires uf hurting others and herself she may remember your words and that she stole a car wash. It may bring to her that flash of enlightenment that propels her into NA for the first time.

    Namaste,
    Ken

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