فصل 6دوره: خرد تسلط بر خشم / درس 7
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YOUR HEART SUTRA
Moment of Gratitude, Moment of Enlightenment
There are moments when we feel very grateful for the other person in our life. We deeply appreciate his or her presence.
We are full of compassion, gratitude, and love.We have experienced moments like this in our life. We feel so grateful that the other person is still alive, that she is still with us, and has stood by our side during very difficult times. I would suggest that if such a moment happens again, take advantage of it.
To truly profit from this time, withdraw to a place where you can be alone with yourself. Don’t just go to the other person and say, “I’m grateful you are there.”That is not enough.
You can do this later. Right at that moment, it is better to withdraw into your room or to a quiet place, and immerse yourself in that feeling of gratitude. Then write down your feelings, your gratitude, your happiness. In half a page or one page, do your best to express yourself in writing, or record yourself on tape.
This moment of gratitude is a moment of enlightenment, of mindfulness, of intelligence. It is a manifestation from the depths of your consciousness. You have this understanding and insight in you. But when you get angry, your gratitude and love do not seem to be there at all. You feel as if they have never existed, so you have to write them down on a sheet of paper and keep it safely. From time to time, take it out and read it again.
The Heart Sutra, a scripture that is chanted daily by many Buddhists, is the essence of the Buddha’s teachings on wisdom.
What you have written is a Heart Sutra because it comes from your heart—not from the heart of a Bodhisattva or the Buddha, but from your own heart. It is your Heart Sutra.
Chant Your Heart Sutra Daily
We can all learn something from the story of the woman who was saved by the love letters she kept in a biscuit box.
When you read such letters from the heart, you are saved by them. Your savior doesn’t come from outside; it comes from inside. You can love; you do have the capacity to appreciate the other person, to feel grateful. This is a blessing. You know you are lucky to have met your partner, you are lucky to have your beloved one in your life. Why do you let this truth fly away? It is in your heart. So you have to chant your Heart Sutra every day. You have to look at it. Every time you touch the love and appreciation in you, you feel grateful again, you cherish his or her presence again.
You have to be alone in order to fully appreciate the other person’s presence. If you are always together, then you may begin to take him for granted, forgetting to enjoy his beauty and goodness. Every now and then, take three or seven days off. Take time away from him in order to be able to appreciate him more. Although you are far away from him, he is more real to you, more substantial than when you are constantly together. During the time you are apart, you will remember how important, how precious he is to you.
So, please, write or produce your own Heart Sutra, or sutras, and keep it in a sacred place. Try to chant your sutra often. Then, when anger overwhelms you, and you are not skillful enough to embrace it, your Heart Sutra will help tremendously. Pick it up, practice breathing deeply in and out, and read it. Right away you will come back to yourself, and you will suffer much less. When you read your Heart Sutra, you will know what to do and how to respond. The challenge is getting yourself to do it. You must create the conditions, prepare, plan, and organize, so that you can really profit from your intelligence. Use your talent to arrange and create these kinds of practices.
Leave the Shore of Anger
You are still standing on the shore of suffering and anger.
Why don’t you leave this shore, and go to the other shore— the shore of non-anger, peace, and liberation? It’s much more pleasant there. Why do you have to spend several hours, one evening, or even days suffering in anger? There is a boat you can use to cross very quickly to the other shore. That boat is the practice of returning to ourselves, through mindful breathing, so that we can look deeply at our suffering, anger, and depression and smile at them. Doing this, we overcome our pain and cross over to the other shore.
Don’t stay on this shore and continue to be the victim of your anger. Non-anger is in you; non-anger is possible. Just cross the river and go to the other shore, the shore of nonanger.
It is cool, pleasant, and refreshing there. Don’t allow yourself to be tyrannized by your anger. Free yourself, liberate yourself. Cross over with the help of a teacher, other friends who practice, and your own practice. Rely on these boats to cross the river and go to the other shore.
Right now you may be standing on the shore of confusion, anger, or doubt. Don’t stay there; go to the other shore.
With the sangha, your brothers and sisters in the dharma, your practice of walking and breathing, your practice of looking deeply, and of chanting your own Heart Sutra, you will cross very quickly. Maybe in just a few minutes. You have the right to be happy. You have the right to be compassionate, to be loving. The seed of awakening is in you. With the practice, you can turn this seed into a flower right away. You can end your suffering, because the dharma is immediately effective.
It is quicker than aspirin.
Give a Gift When You Are Angry
There may be times when you are angry with someone, and you try everything you can to transform your anger, but nothing seems to work. In this case, the Buddha proposes that you give the other person a present. It sounds childish, but it is very effective. When we’re angry with someone, we want to hurt them. Giving them a present changes that into wanting to make them happy. So, when you are angry with someone, send him a present. After you have sent it, you will stop being angry with him. It’s very simple, and it always works.
Don’t wait until you get angry to go and buy the present.
When you feel very grateful, when you feel you love him or her so much, then go and buy the present right away. But don’t send it; don’t give it to the other person yet. Keep it. You may have the luxury of having two or three presents stored secretly in your drawer. Later, when you feel angry, take one out and deliver it. It is very effective. The Buddha was very smart.
The Relief of Understanding
When you are angry, you want to ease your suffering. That is a natural tendency. There are many ways to find relief, but the greatest relief comes from understanding. When understanding is there, anger will go away by itself. When you understand the situation of the other person, when you understand the nature of suffering, anger has to vanish, because it will be transformed into compassion.
Looking deeply is the medicine most recommended for anger. If you look, you will understand the other’s difficulties and their deepest aspiration that they have never been able to realize. Then compassion is born in you and compassion is the antidote for anger. If you allow compassion to spring from your heart, the fire of anger will die right away.
Most of our suffering is born from our lack of understanding and insight that there is no separate self. The other person is you, you are the other person. If you get in touch with that truth, anger will vanish.
Compassion is a beautiful flower born of understanding.
So when you get angry with someone, practice breathing in and out mindfully. Look deeply into the situation to see the true nature of your own and the other person’s suffering, and you will be liberated.
Dangers of Venting
There are therapists who advise us to express our anger in order to feel better. They suggest we say or do things to let our anger out, like taking a stick and hitting a tire, or slamming the door with all your might. They also suggest hitting a pillow. These therapists believe that this is the way to remove the energy of anger in us. They call it “venting.”
When you have smoke in your room, you want to ventilate the room so the smoke can escape. Anger is a kind of smoke, an energy that makes you suffer. When the smoke of anger comes up, you want to open a door and turn on the fan, so the anger will go out. So you ventilate by hitting a stone or a tree with a stick, or by pounding on your pillow. I have seen many people practice like that. Actually, they do get some temporary relief. But, the side effects of venting are very harmful. They will make you suffer much more.
Anger needs energy to manifest. When you try to vent it by using all your might to hit something or pound your pillow, half an hour later, you will be exhausted. Because you are exhausted, you will have no energy left to feed your anger. You may think that anger is no longer there, but that’s not true; you are simply too tired to be angry.
It is the roots of anger in you that produce anger. The roots of anger lie in ignorance, wrong perceptions, in the lack of understanding and compassion. When you vent your anger, you simply open the energy that is feeding your anger.
The roots of anger are always there, and by expressing anger like that, you are strengthening the roots of anger in yourself.
That is the danger of venting.
There was an article in The New York Times, March 9, 1999, on anger, titled “Letting Out Aggression Is Called Bad Advice.” According to this article, a lot of research has been done by social psychologists, and they concluded that trying to express your anger and your aggression by hitting a pillow and the like won’t help at all. In fact, it will make the situation worse.
While you pound the pillow, you are not calming or reducing your anger—you are rehearsing it. If you practice hitting a pillow every day, then the seed of anger in you will grow every day. And someday, when you meet the person who made you angry, you may practice what you have learned.You will just hit the other person and end up in jail.That is why handling your aggression by hitting a pillow, or venting, is not helpful at all. It is dangerous. It is not truly ventilating the energy of anger since anger is not getting out of your system.
Venting your anger is a practice based on ignorance.
When you imagine the object of your hate as a pillow, hitting the object of your hate, you rehearse your ignorance and anger. Instead of lessening your violence and anger, you become more violent and angry.
A number of therapists have confirmed that the practice of venting anger is dangerous. They told me that they stopped advising their clients to do it. After their clients vent by hitting pillows, they are tired, and so they think they feel better. But after they rest and have some food, if someone comes and waters the seed of anger in them, they become even angrier than before. They have fed the roots of their anger by rehearsing it.
When Mindfulness Is There, You Are Safe
We have to be there for our anger, we have to recognize its presence and take good care of it. In psychotherapy this is called “getting in touch with our anger.” It is wonderful and very important. You have to recognize and embrace anger when it manifests instead of suppressing it.
But the important question here is who is the one getting in touch with, taking care of, and recognizing anger? Anger is an energy, and if that energy is overwhelming, you can be a victim of it. You should be able to generate another kind of energy that can recognize and take care of the anger. Anger is a zone of energy that needs to be touched, that needs to be recognized. The question is, what is touching what? What energy can do the touching and the recognizing? It is the energy of mindfulness. So every time we get angry, we practice mindful breathing and mindful walking, in order to touch the seed of mindfulness and generate the energy of mindfulness in us.
Mindfulness is not there to suppress. Mindfulness is there to welcome, to recognize: “Hello, my little anger, I know you are there. My old friend.” Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to be aware of what is there. To be mindful is always to be mindful of something. You may be mindful of your inbreath, or out-breath, and that is mindfulness of breathing.
You may be mindful of the tea you are drinking, and that is mindfulness of drinking. When you eat mindfully, that is mindfulness of eating. When you walk mindfully, it is mindfulness of walking.
In this case, we practice mindfulness of anger. “I’m aware that I’m angry, and I’m aware that anger is in me.” So, mindfulness is touching, recognizing, greeting, and embracing. It does not fight or suppress. The role of mindfulness is like the role of a mother, embracing and soothing the suffering child.
Anger is in you; anger is your baby, your child. You have to take very good care of it. When it recognizes anger, mindfulness says, “Hello there, my anger, I know you are there. I will take good care of you, don’t worry.”The moment mindfulness is there, you are safe, you can smile, because the energy of the Buddha is born in you.
If you don’t know how to handle your anger, it can kill you. Without mindfulness, you may become the victim of anger. It can make you vomit blood and even die. Many people die because of anger—it is a shock to your whole system, it creates tremendous pressure and pain inside you. When the Buddha is present, when the energy of mindfulness is there, you are protected. Mindfulness helps you take care of your situation. When the big brother is there, the younger brother is safe. When the mother is there, the child is safe.
Through the practice, the mother or the big brother in you becomes better and better at taking care of anger.
While recognizing and embracing our anger, we must generate mindfulness continuously.We can do this by the practice of continuous mindful walking and breathing. If you don’t have mindfulness, nothing you do will bring you relief, even if you hit a pillow with all your might. Hitting a pillow doesn’t help you get in touch with your anger or discover the nature of your anger.You don’t even get in touch with the pillow. If you were in touch with the pillow, then you would know that it was only a pillow, and not your enemy.Why do you hit the pillow like that? Because you don’t know that it is just a pillow.
When you really get in touch with something, then you will know its true nature. If you get in touch with one person deeply, then you know who she or he truly is. If mindfulness is not there, getting in touch with something or someone is not possible. Without mindfulness, you become a victim because your anger pushes you to do harmful things.
You Are the Object of Your Anger
Who do you think you are? You are the other person. If you get angry with your son, you are getting angry with yourself.
You are wrong to think that your son is not you. Your son is you. Genetically, physiologically, scientifically, your son is your continuation. That is the real truth. Who is your mother? Your mother is you. You are her continuation as a descendant, and she is your continuation as an ancestor. She links you to all those who came before, and you link her to all the future generations. You belong to the same stream of life. To think that she is a different entity, to think that you can have nothing to do with her is sheer ignorance. When a young man says, “I no longer want to have anything to do with my father,” that is sheer ignorance, because the young man is nothing but his father.
As a mother, pregnant with your child, you had this insight, that your child is you. You ate for your baby, you drank for your baby, you took care of your baby. When you took care of yourself, you took care of your baby. You were very careful, because you knew that the baby was you. But by the time your child reaches the age of thirteen or fourteen, you begin to lose this insight. You and your child feel separated, less connected. You don’t know how to improve your relationship, to make peace after a fight. Soon, the gap between the two of you grows bigger and more solid. Your relationship becomes very difficult and full of conflict.
Insight Stops Anger
It may seem like you are two separate entities, but if you look deeper, you will see that you are still one. So settling the dispute, restoring peace between you both, is like restoring peace within yourself, within your own body. You and your child are of the same nature, you belong to the same reality.
Many years ago when I was in London, I walked into a bookshop and saw a book entitled My Mother, Myself.This is an intelligent title. Your mother, yourself. You can write another book, My Daughter, Myself. Or My Son, Myself; My Father, Myself. It is the actual reality. When you get angry with your son, you are getting angry with yourself. When you punish your son, you punish yourself. When you inflict suffering on your father, you inflict suffering on yourself. We understand this when we have the insight of non-self, the insight that the self is made of non-self elements, like our father, mother, all our ancestors, as well as the sun, the air, and the earth.
When you can touch this insight, the reality of non-self, you know that happiness and suffering are not individual matters. Your suffering is the suffering of your beloved ones.
Their happiness is your happiness. When you know this, you will not be tempted by the idea of punishing or of blaming.
You’ll behave with much more wisdom. This intelligence, this wisdom, is the fruit of your contemplation, of your looking deeply. So when you read your Heart Sutra, it helps you to remember the insight that your child, your partner, is you.
We read a sutra to immerse ourselves in the truth, in the insight of non-self. The Heart Sutra that you are encouraged to write is a sutra that comes from your own insight that you and the other person are one. The Heart Sutra is about wisdom.
So is your Heart Sutra. It reminds you of the wisdom that you are not separate, isolated selves. It reminds you of the wisdom of your love. When you are angry, when you are misled by the idea that you are a separate self, reading that Heart Sutra will help you return to yourself again. When insight is there, then the Buddha is there, and you are safe. You don’t have to suffer anymore.
We have to constantly remind ourselves that there are many ways of getting relief from anger, but the best, the deepest relief comes from understanding, the insight of nonself.
Non-self is not an abstract philosophy. Non-self is a reality that you can touch by living mindfully. The insight of non-self will restore peace and harmony between you and the other person. You deserve peace, you deserve happiness.
That is why you have to sit down with him, with her, and design a strategy for living together.
Furthermore, you yourself must also figure out a way of living that will bring you harmony and peace. You have to sign a peace treaty with yourself, because very often you are torn apart by the war and the conflict inside of you. You are at war because you lack wisdom, you lack insight. With understanding, you can restore peace and harmony in yourself and in your relationships with others. You will know how to act and how to react with intelligence so that you are no longer in a war zone, a zone of conflict. If there is peace and harmony in you, the other person will recognize it, and peace and harmony between both of you will be restored quickly. You will be much more pleasant, much easier to be with, and that will help the other person tremendously.
So to help your son, make peace with yourself. Look deeply into yourself. If you want to help your mother, restore peace in yourself. Discover the insight that will allow you to help your mother. Helping yourself is the first condition for helping the other. Let go of the illusion called self. This is the essence of the practice that will free you and the other person from anger and suffering.
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