The rhetoric ran hot this past week in the wake of the terror attacks and the arguments about whether to take in Syrian refugees. Roshi Joan Halifax of Upaya Zen Center shared these wise words:
"...[R]eading about the terrible situation refugees are facing as they flee from violence, I am contemplating reactions and responses from many parts of the world. There is so much anger being expressed by so many. One of the things I have learned about anger is that it is directly related to feelings of helplessness. This tendency can be based on deep issues related to survival and agency, for example. And this does not justify anger. Anger is a corrosive emotion that has negative effects on one's health and the well-being of others. In Buddhism, it is considered a serious obstacle to awakening, and is described as an afflictive emotion; this includes righteous anger. This is not to say that most of us don't experience anger, righteous or not. It is more a matter of seeing things from the perspective of suffering and the self. Working with anger takes a perspective that is based in wisdom, in a view that suffering exists, and that anger arises from threat to the self. Much more to be said about this, but this is very much in my foreground right now, as I consider the fate of people fleeing from war, or the fate of animals used for experimentation, or children being abused, or women being abused, or the rampant racism in our society. My personal commitment is to use whatever feelings of futility that arise when feeling the enormity of suffering to prime my commitment to 'live by vow.' Anger degrades the mind, as well as the body, and it harms others in so many ways.”*
NB: To "live by vow" means to "decide what thoughts we will entertain, what words we will speak, and what deeds we will perform, [which] is true freedom."**
What are you noticing about your ability to "live by vow" lately?
for Mindful Monday