By ROSY SHARMA SEDHAIN
Growing up in a family where anger was very prominent, I was fully aware of the harm that it can cause. As a child witnessing it, I knew how frightening it could be. Later in life I was frightened to see the same seeds of anger in me.
Through a few years of meditation, Dharma study and practice, those seeds of anger had subsided to a great degree. I still experienced low-level irritation, frustration and sadness, and sometimes a little anger, too, but I felt they were normal and I had enough justification as to why they were okay for me.
But, now, as I have been studying The Way of the Bodhisattva by Santideva, every verse in the Patience chapter feels like it’s talking to me. Patience is something that I clearly see I need to cultivate. Verse 48 from the Shantideva's Vigilant Introspection chapter tells us that when anger arises: Do not act! Be silent, do not speak! And like a log of wood be sure to stay.
During the Patience Retreat I realized that, although I have been practicing to be like a log with no visible fire, the log was still hot inside and burning with irritation, sadness and frustration, which was fueled by wrong views. Through Fred’s teachings and reflection exercises, I realized that this log can be dangerous because slowly it will burn itself -- and the relationships around it -- whenever an explosive condition arises.
I realized why it is so important to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small. I got a chance to go to the source of my anger and irritation. When looking back at my past, I realized it was rising in me when I didn’t get what I wanted or when people did not behave as I wanted them to.
So, ego / self-centeredness is the root cause of why anger arises in me. When it arises, this self-centeredness also makes me feel lonely and separate from everyone around me. It makes me feel like I need to protect myself. This “wrong view” makes me blind and keeps the fire of anger going.
This might not look like a significant discovery because Fred has talked about it multiple times in his Dharma talks, and I thought I had “gotten it” a long time ago. But only when I put my own life’s past events and my behavior patterns under the microscope and replayed those moments were my findings significant for me. I saw how the anger dropped as soon as the words “I, Me, My” were dropped. The story is the same, but as soon as I dropped the Ego, anger was nowhere to be found, and only sadness remained.
Wow, is it that simple? After the retreat, I have been trying to implement this new awareness in my life. It does help to stop the log from burning inside. It is not easy, but possible.
Rosy Sharma Sedhain joined FCM in 2017. This is her second year in the Dharma Transmission Program. She and Suzy Walker have been leading the Family and Teen Program. Rosy feels blessed to be part of the FCM sangha.