Insightful patience

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To prevent our exploding in anger, we need to bring mindfulness to the situations that spark our anger. If we can more objectively see the realities of the situation – more clearly see yourself, your “enemy”, the actual realities of the situation – we can avoid getting hooked by anger and we can remain steady under pressure.

I am not angry with the major sources
Of sufferings, ill-humors such as bile,
So why am I angry with mental beings,
All driven by conditions as they are?


Do you get angry with your stomach when it aches? Do you get angry with a rock when you stub your toe on it?

Why do you reflectively resent someone if you are hurt by them but not an inanimate object?

Is your response “Well they did it on purpose?”

In this lesson we’ve been exploring how we become controlled by our emotions. Can you look at the person who’s actions may have caused you harm and recognize that they acted out of a complex set of conditions and may have been controlled by their emotions?

We're encouraged to examine what we assume to be logical responses, responses that inevitably leave us resentful.

Whatever evils can be found
And the various kinds of vice,
All arise by the force of conditions,
And not willfully at all.

Those conditions gathered together
Have no intention "let us produce harm!"
Nor does their product, harm itself, intend
"I am going to be produced!"

Even when someone harms us, can we have the insight to recognize that the harm that is inflicted is in some sense out of that person's control because he or she is compelled negative emotions, delusions, ill feelings, and other forces. Can we acknowledge that both our negative feelings such as ill will or anger and those of the person who may have harmed us come about as a result of many factors and conditions which do not arise out of choice or deliberately?

Pema Chodron offers a wonderful example:

Our reactions are not as premeditated as we might think. They
happen because of past conditioning. I once stayed with a friend whose dog has an uncontrollable fear of brooms, lust getting the broom out of the closet and starting to sweep sends the poor creature into a tailspin. Although he is no longer in danger of being harmed, he still reacts with terror. You can't convince a dog not to be afraid of brooms, but you can work with your own mind and phobias.

We all have our "brooms." We may never know what happened in the past to trigger our current response. But in this very moment, we can work with our mind and develop patience. We don't have to spend a lifetime building up a case about the badness of brooms or the wrongness of our emotions. quote