|My daughter Grace in an angry moment.|
I read this last week, from Mark Epstein, one of my favorite Buddhist writers:
If you are angry and you meditate to get rid of your anger, you will only frustrate yourself. Meditate because you are angry, not to eliminate it. Thich Nhat Hanh says we must learn how to hold anger like a baby: we need to learn how to be angry, not how to express or repress it. Whenever we take any emotion and make it into an It (as in "I can't stand it any longer" or "I have to get it out of my system"), we are in trouble.
And now I don't really know what to do with that. I am angry. I am hurt. I'm so angry I wake up from dreams of it. While driving my car I have flashbacks of the events that make me angry. I'm so angry my blood feels as though it has been poisoned and I have difficulty breathing the air as though it too has been poisoned.
I know the poison is coming from within me, from memories of my childhood that have been stirred up. If I continue to repress the anger, I'll continue to be sick from depression and anxiety. If I express it, I'll cause harm to others. So what the hell am I supposed to do with this damn Anger Baby that I didn't even ask for in the first place!?!
I've read a lot about anger this week. Buddhism seems to suggest that forgiveness is the way to go, even if the perpetrator isn't sorry and continues to be abusive. Yeah, I'm not there yet. Am I supposed to eventually wind up as some kind of Mother Theresa-esque figure? No wonder so many people think Buddhism is nuts.
But Mark Epstein doesn't jump on the forgiveness train. He says,
So you're still angry and you're wondering what's the matter with you? Probably nothing. Don't compare the Bodhisattva path with being a Buddha and expect yourself to have purified every emotion.
Okay. So I don't have to be Mother Theresa. But I'm still mother to this Anger Baby. Guess I'm just supposed to sit here and hold it. Nurse it? Rock it? Throw it out with the bathwater? No. Just hold it. Maybe hold it and realize I am that angry baby.
And maybe that's enough for right now.