Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Three Kinds of Anger

I came across this little commentary by Phra Maha Vuthichai Vachiramethi about three kinds of anger on the Tricycle blog (Three Kinds of Anger).

Anger may manifest itself in the following ways:

- Like a line drawn across water, anger that disappears quickly.

- Like a line drawn in the sand, disappearing when a wave washes ashore.

- Like a line carved into a stone, surviving all kinds of weather conditions over thousands and thousands of years.

Anger is not a physical entity, but once it appears, its destructive potential is far more devastating than any nuclear weapon.

It got me thinking about the formless atonement verse I chant every night before bed. At some point about a year and a half ago, I decided that even if I didn't sit, do walking meditation, or any other deliberate practice during the day, at least I would end the day chanting the following three times:

All my ancient twisted karma
from beginningless greed, hate, and delusion
born of my body, speech, and thought
I now fully avow.

In some ways, I see this chant as a broom. When the day is done, I sweep away the dust that has accumulated as a result of my actions.

In other ways, I view it as a promise. When the day is done, I'm reminding myself of the vows I have taken, and am readying myself for a new start in the morning.

In light of the Vachiramethi quote above, this chant can also be viewed as a means of breaking though, if only for a short time, some of that longer held anger - the kind that cuts across the generations. Every effort we can make to disrupt these kinds of patterns is important, even if we have no idea how long it might take to break down those lines drawn across the stones of our lives.


ZenDotStudio said...

I like this chant, Nathan. I think I may join you in it! Thanks for that.

I am well acquainted with anger. It has been my "gateway in".

spldbch said...

I think your nightly ritual is a great idea. More people could benefit from "sweeping away" the day's emotional baggage before going to bed.

Is the photo yours? I love it!

Nathan said...

The photo is mine. I took it at Gooseberry Falls in northern Minnesota. It is one of the five falls there.

Vagabonde said...

I have read all the posts on your blog that I missed while I was on vacation in Canada. Your posts are so good and eloquent it makes me feel ashamed of my poor little blog. But then I could not talk like you about such personal feelings on a blog, it would be extremely hard for me. In my country of origin, these are very private matters. Then again, the reasons for my blog were travel and recollections.
I liked your post about generosity. I would not wish to offend anyone but I have been in various countries and I feel that the US people are not very generous. They think they give a lot to foreign aid, but they give a lot less than most other western countries. My father was born and brought up in the Middle East and I found the people there to be the most generous. My father would give to many charities, anonymously. He was a jeweler and would give jewelry to my French friends who were amazed. The Americans cannot receive generosity either. I am not close to my money and would offer to buy coffee or lunch to colleagues at work and they would refuse. At the grocery if someone did not have the right change I would offer to give them the change and they would look at me like I was dangerous. I found it fascinating that both de Tocqueville and Dickens found that the Americans were a very greedy nation so many years ago. I try not to cling to things but it is hard. When we came back to Georgia we found that our den had been flooded and many of my best magazines and books were on the floor and cannot be saved. It is hard to throw them away. Of course in my town many people had water to their roof and lost everything, so my books are such a little loss. I keep thinking that. Sorry this is too long so I’ll stop.

Nathan said...

Hi Vagabonde,

I do think it's true that we here in the U.S., collectively, struggle with generosity. Like most others, we do fine when a disaster hits - neighbors who didn't even know each other for years before help out in amazing ways. But then things fairly quickly "go back to normal." There is such a strong cultural belief in individual freedom and property here that sometimes I wonder how we have gotten this far as a whole nation. When you don't have strong communities, and sharing isn't as common, what you end up with is a lot of anxiety and fears of loss of possessions. I continue to think that if you really dig into Buddhist teachings, there's no way to really live them fully, and also be a capitalist individualist. It's just not possible.