I just finished listening to a dharma talk about being kind and gentle. The teacher is a woman who is a well-known American Buddhist teacher and author. She is Nice. Kind. Gentle. Her voice is sweet and motherly as is her countenance. Does this help me be more like her?
Hell no. I want to use foul language. Be pissed off. Drink whiskey. Smoke cigarettes. Wail the blues. Wear motorcycle boots and a leather jacket. Stomp around, slam a door.
My Buddhist practice is to ask myself why I want to swear at and throw rotten tomatoes at this dear, sweet, blameless woman? The answer is that my sense of myself lately has been not sweet and not blameless.
I have been angry. I have been caught in the web of “self.” I think I exist. I feel massive, blown up by my anger. My brow is furrowed. My lips are a tight line. My third eye is shut. It’s even hard to see a flower, the sky so covered am I by a fog of resentment.
And the last thing I want is to compare myself to a sweet, never-cursing, never-door slamming, always-gentle, saintly type woman. The type everyone loves.
I’ve never been the type everyone loves, so I’ve always been angry. It’s a real challenge to have such a pissed off nature and be a practicing Buddhist. Now at work, I am once again not the one everyone loves. I am tripping over the past as if it was a rock-strewn path. I am also tired. I wake three times a night to take Yogi down the stairs and out the door to pee because he is sick. I am sad and scared about work and sad and scared about Yogi. So what do I do? I get angry.
But there must be room for my type in the vast world of Buddhism. And if not, I will make room: Here I am, Angry Buddha. I will elect myself as the leader of the Order of the Pissed Off (OPO). We will spike our hair with sticky gel, cross our arms and scowl. We will refuse to listen to anyone, especially Buddha or God or Any Higher Power. We feel full with the power of our anger and fear the emptiness of sorrow. Most of us were hit and scorned and we want revenge. We got punished for crying and we want to strike back. Some of did. Others just beat themselves.
I am calling the OPO to order. The first thing on our agenda is to lose the spiky purple rebel hair. The second is to sit down on your angry ass. The third is to breathe. The fourth is do nothing.. In stillness. In no judgment. As the witness, of the anger, not the anger. The fourth is to cry because that is how the energy of rage is dissolved. Now feel how it feels to be the one everyone loves, so you can find out even that is not enough. There is always someone missing from that football stadium filled with everyone telling you”you are a person everyone loves.” Who isn’t in the stands? You. Then understand that you are the everyone who can love everyone–even yourself when you are angry. And that is enough.