Uprooting the Seeds of Anger

Anger has something to teach us. Can we listen? Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei

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Mindfulness is cultivated through meditation practice. That is one of the reasons why I like the focused practice period of sesshin, several days of intensive sitting. It is amazing how much stuff surfaces in sesshin. In my first few years practicing Zen, I thought of myself as a pretty laid-back, easygoing guy. But then during these intensive meditation periods, I couldn’t believe the amount of anger and rage that came up. I was ready to kill the teacher, kill the monks, and burn down the monastery! It stood in stark contrast to my ideas of who I thought I was. My anger was exacerbated by having the duty of scrubbing the toilets with a toothbrush. But all along the way, I continued meditating. And at some point, scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush became a practice of mindfulness for me.

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