Sunday, May 10, 2009

Irrational force

I've been reading 'Way of the Bodhisattva' and came to a chapter called 'Patience'. I know I need to welcome this concept into my life more, and yet it's so easy to get frustrated and irritated by people each and every day. From the driver who cuts me off in traffic to an innocent request by someone to get off my duff and help with chores, people irritate me so easily. Shantideva, the author of this incredible book, warns against succumbing to the emotion of anger. My shortcomings and this book got me thinking about anger in general. It's the baddest bad boy around, branded as bad by both Buddhism and Christianity. There's a place in Purgatory for people who succumbed to this Deadly Sin, while anger is one of the passions warned against in most Buddhist schools of thought. And those are the ones I know about!
So, here's a brief look at anger and its neighbours irritation and frustration (my folly). Turned inward, anger becomes depression, which is good for nothing, or frustration (my personal imp). Meanwhile, depression can get very grim if not dealt with. Most folks take meds to keep their depression under control, but wouldn't turning their anger outward help just a little? Get it out of the soul where it's doing so much damage and into a place where it can be addressed? I cannot say that I am an expert on depression, but I am trying to understand anger and frustration. These barriers help nobody. Small wonder belief systems lay so much blame on anger.
Not that anger is always a bad thing. Anger can give rise to change. Ra McGuire of Trooper said it best in 'Raise a little Hell'. Anger over injustice, voiced at the right time, can change laws, open minds and hearts, and make the world better for those to come. As long as anger is focused properly and burns to calmer embers, it can be used wisely. Unfortunately, it's the wars, the road rage, the countless acts of violence we hear about. Anger turned barrier, turned inward, turned into something unbearably ugly. Anger spawned by pain can lead to revenge, and that rarely keeps anyone happy for long. For people easily frustrated, driving behind someone going a little slow is intolerably. Like a bug bite from Hell, the irritation flames into anger and the ugly phenomena of road rage litters the road with fender-benders, lawsuits, and twisted metal.
Small wonder anger has gotten such a bad reputation! It would be indeed better to transcend this monster, right? I'll think about it and get back to you. BYE.

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