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.