April 15, 2011
Sharon Salzberg, from the second talk, "The Five Hindrances: Desire and Aversion," of her Tricycle Retreat:
When we step back and re-vision our understanding of life then we don't need to get so lost in our anger. When we look at anger as it arises, what's important is to look at the very feeling, flavor, and texture of anger. We don't say, "This is wrong," "This is bad," "I shouldn't have this anger." Just pay attention to the feeling.
Once I was sitting at the Insight Meditation Society, the center I cofounded in Massachusetts, and one of my teachers, Munindra, who was visiting from India was guiding us. I was very upset at this moment. Anger had come into my mind and I was thinking, "I've been practicing for four years, I shouldn't be angry anymore but I am. What's this still doing here?!" Munindra could hear how disgruntled I was, how dismayed I was, and he said, "Imagine that a spaceship has landed on the front lawn and these martians have come out and come up to you and asked, 'What is anger?' That's how you should relate to anger."
You don't think "I'm righteous. I'm going to do this or that, get revenge, etc." You just ask, "What is anger?" "What's it like in my body?" "What are the layers of this mood?" "How much sadness is there in it? How much fear?"
In Tibetan Buddhist practice it is taught that anger is something we pick up when we feel weak, because we think it will make us strong. But does it? What's the nature of that strength? How supple is it? How brittle is it? So we just take a look. That's what is so powerful and interesting, to really come close to these feelings without getting lost in them and without struggling against them, and to use them as the basis for very great insight.
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Sharon Salzberg's new book Real Happiness is available to Tricycle Community members for the month of April with a 20% discount, free shipping in the US, and free e-book for instant download.
Image by Mike + Doug Starn. Available in the Tricycle Gallery