Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

Dear Jesus,
I’ve been thinking alot about anger lately. I think it’s probably because I’ve been angry alot lately. More so than usual, and it’s not some teen angst type of anger, it’s an anger you feel burning in your gut. You see, without divulging too much, about a month ago I found out someone I’m related to by marriage was doing something he shouldnt have been doing with an under age girl in the family (he wasnt doing what youre thinking he was doing, but it’s still pretty bad). When I found out, i wanted to drive over to his house and give him an old fashioned beat down, but my wife forced me to weigh the consequences (as she usually does in these situations). Now I’m normally a peaceful guy, who considers himself somewhat level headed, and allows things to slide off his back without bothering him too much, but this….. this has actually been boiling my blood for well over a month now, and when I think of this person, I get angry all over again. So I guess this brings me to my question, which is when does anger go from righteous to rotten? When does anger go from something that should cause you to act, to something that eats away at your soul and ultimately ruins your life?

I am intimately acquainted with living in anger. I spent most of my teens and 20’s living in it and glorifying it. Whether it be on a personal or societal level, i was pissed off. I was mad at my dad, i was mad at society, I was mad at fate. I thought i had a right to be angry, and in some cases i did have that right, but ultimately i started to learn that anger, while it may come from a righteous source, if not addressed or channeled properly, would eventually eat me up. And it was eating me up. I was not able to see the world outside of the context of my anger, and it crippled my ability to be open to people, to trust people or believe in possibility. It got to the point where it was affecting all of my most valued relationships, and I realized I had to reckon with it or I would slowly die a bitter, pathetic death. So I started trying to change my outlook and attitude on life, and sure enough, as I would take small baby steps in this, the universe would let me know I was on the right path.

Fast forward many years and here I am. I still have many challenges with anger, but it doesnt define my world like it once did. But then things like this guy doing his thing happens and I am immediately taken back to that place where I am anger incarnate, and although it is a righteous anger, I realize that this time something is different about it, like maybe this time there is an important lesson for me hidden inside it. You know you can usually sense when a life lesson is coming because there are signs pointing to it from all directions. Sign 1 for me came when i stumbled upon a quote from Hermann Hesse, author of the book Siddartha, which i finally read last year (20 years after it was assigned to me in High School). The quote was If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us. Something struck me about this. If i hate someone who does bad shit, who is a religious hypocrite, who does more damage to his family than good, how is it that I hate that in myself? I dont do any of that crap… I dont even want to be around that. But ever since reading that quote I’ve been asking myself “what about him makes me so angry, and what is it in me that i see a parallel to, and to a lesser degree, what about myself do I want to destroy so bad?”

Fast forward another few days and I stumble upon this website about Christian Meditation. I’m a big fan of eastern meditation, while being pitifully inept at it. I’ve always seen a parallel between meditation and a spiritual connection to God. In fact if you look at the great teachers of all our worlds religions, one parallel you can find in most of them is that they spent a good amount of time in meditative isolation, Jesus preferring solitude on the mount of olives, Mohammed retreating to the cave where he ultimately was given the Koran, Buddha Gautama under his tree and so on. Anyways, the site on Christian Meditation put some concepts together that were just kind of fumbling around separately in my head. One such concept was the idea of self mastery. Obviously when you think of self mastery, you think of disciplining your body to the will of your mind, but it really hit home the fact that I need to discipline my mind as well. in fact self mastery needs to start with the mind. And while I may go through this world controlling my anger externally, what good does it do me if it still causes havoc internally. So here I am hating this guy in my heart, and suddenly i have an epiphany about the true nature and purpose of meditation, regardless of creed or faith, which is to let go of the unhealthy desires of our hearts, for it is in these desires that we create our own suffering. I needed to let go of my anger. This was gonna take practice. But whenever I’d find myself hating this guy, I would remind myself of this epiphany and I found that i was hating him less as the days went.

Still, I kept thinking about the Hesse quote and spent time wondering how it was that i hated myself by hating him. Then it hit me on the way home from work one day. In my head i pictured myself trying to kill this person, and then asking myself why i hated him so much as to try and kill him, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I hated him, because I hated that same potential, that same possibility of doing every one of those bad things, in me. you see, this guy isnt too different from me. he’s a musician too. he’s a father. he’s actually a somewhat likeable guy outside of all the bad stuff, but the difference is he succumbs to his basic desires and impulses. And when i look at him, i see that same potential for me, because the only difference between him and I is that I chose not to do the same things he did today. Will i still choose this way tomorrow? I’d like to say yes. But who knows. I hate him because what he does, and what he is, appalls me, but on a deeper level i think it scares me because I fear making those same choices. And what does fear usually manifest itself as? Anger… Hatred… Yoda was right all along.

Strange thing the mind and the heart. After that day I found that i didn’t really hate the guy anymore. I actually feel more pity for him than anything. I know that he will continue to do things that will make me mad in the moment, but it will dissipate. I wont feel the need to harbor anything against him or fantasize about beating him up. I’ll remember that the only differences between us are the choices we’ve made which either build us up or destroy us. I’ll recognize my potential to choose the path of destruction, and pray that I choose that path of life. And then maybe I’ll pray that he stops choosing the path of destruction as well. The great thing about being who we are is that we have the power to change. Self mastery.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.