Anger, Suffering, and the Fourth Precept


"Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small."

The Fourth Precept as interpreted by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Speech is powerful.  It can be both very constructive and unfortunately, very destructive.  Mindful speech can bring happiness; undmindful speech can wreak havoc or kill.

I have anger issues.  There is a lot of pain stored in my mind from years of suffering.  My anger is often unintentionally released and communicated to the most loved people in my life. My relationships suffer.

Speaking while you are angry can be dangerous.  You may say hurtful things that create suffering and harm in your relationships.  Holding in our suffering can be just as dangerous.  I held in my suffering for years and it has bottled up and become a problem in my life.

I have learned that deep breathing and minding my feeling-tones allow me to calm down and return to a level of sanity.  Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which slows our heart rate and reduces our stress levels. Using these practices, we are addressing our anger and touching the suffering with mindfulness, but not ignoring it.  I find that Loving Kindness Meditation assists even further in reducing my anger. It is after this that I should address conflicts, when I feel safe and am less likely to use unmindful speech.

Mindful communication is crucial and takes courage.  I hope that we all take a few moments daily to review the fourth precept and use our speech to mindfully improve our lives, our communities, and the world.



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When I Stopped Screaming

When I stopped screaming, when I stopped being right...everything changed.

Screaming didn'work.  Screaming angered others, it muddied waters.  Always being right closed my mind.  I was right, my heart was clenched, and I was alone.

When I really released my fixed views, when I learned to really see....to listen and understand.  When I stopped screaming, everything changed.

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Space

Not every void, not every space needs filled immediately.  Emptiness makes us uncomfortable, we feel edgy.  We rush to fill our free time with activity, our mind with thought, and our heart with emotion.

Meditation allows us to sit, to observe, to allow room for possibility.  All of creation springs from the great void.  Be sure to leave space in your life for creation.

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Signs of Strength?



In western culture we view stubbornness, loudness, and rigidity as signs of strength.  Could they instead be signs of fear and weakness?  Could it be fear that makes one scream and shout?  Could it be that one has to hide behind policy and dogma when one doesn't have the fortitude to make decisions based upon good judgement?

In my personal life I am trying to allow others to be without thinking I must caution them of their wayward ways.  Controlling others is surely a sign of insecurity, a loud voice a sign one feels powerless.

We need to question dogma and running buckshot over other people's wishes as acceptable behavior.   I certainly have.


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Patience

When things go "wrong", ie... not to our liking or expectations, we tend to lose perspective.  We feel persecuted, wronged, and indignant.  It is easy at such times to loose concern for others and become bitter and selfish.

Learning patience allows us to use loving kindness and mindfulness to accept things and others as they are.  Not everything is directed at us.  Sometimes causes align and things happen for reasons we do not understand.  We can learn to incorporate disappointing events into our practice and learn about life and ourselves.  This doesn't mean we have to put a "rosy" fake spin on everything that occurs in our lives, it means that we accept things as they are and transform ourselves.

Difficulties with the people and events in our life are a part of the path.  Developing patience helps us to stay on the path of the Bodhisattva.

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From Silence



From silence, from a blank page, from an empty space - comes all that is, will be, and has ever been.

From the void comes all form.

From silence, the quiet place deep within you, give birth to ideas, places, and things that do not yet exist.

"Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence."
Deepak Chopra

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The Power of Being Wrong & The Dalai Lama

There isn't a lot to learn from being right.  When we are sure we are right, our minds are fixed and we only review thoughts and beliefs that we already had, further entrenching ourselves in our fixed views.

My wife and I have completely different memories of a difficult period in our marriage.  For years now we have reviewed it, ie.. fought about it, both entrenched in our own positions.  Nothing has changed, nothing has been learned, and feelings have been hurt.

I've recently heard it said that the Dalai Lama has mentioned that one of his standard meditations is a meditation on being wrong.  He simply repeats "I was wrong" over and over.  Interesting.

At first the thought threw me off.  What value could there be in that?  Then the thought of my embattled position in my marital dispute came to mind.  Was she right?  Could it be I was wrong?  The answer was maybe.  A magical word "maybe".  No entrenched position with fixed views and inflexible opinions...maybe.  Unlimited possibility...maybe.

Meditating on the possibility that I was wrong was not easy at first.  The ego resisted but eventually a small crack appeared in the wall of self-righteousness I'd built around my "self".  Self,  that fragile sand-castle we protect at all costs.  Eventually an opening and light shined through.  The light of love, understanding and possibility.

Whether right or wrong I've learned A GREAT DEAL about myself and made some serious changes for the better.  I think I'll try to be wrong more often.


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Seriously?

What do you need before you start taking your life more seriously and living as you know you should ,or at least start to seriously inquire?

More time? All of these previous years weren't enough?
More drugs?
More parties?
More television?
More sleep?
More shopping?
Another bad marriage?

Death is certain, the time of death is not.

Your precious human life could end at any time.


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Toxic Behavior

Behaviors are toxic, people are not.

All human beings have the unlimited potential for change, including you.

Hence we may love someone, including ourselves, and not approve of their behavior.

Namaste,
Dan

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Magnified

Seeds are small, but given the proper conditions they grow.  Even the smallest negative actions can have tremendous and catastrophic effects.

The same is true of our positive actions.  Be mindful of your actions and the attention they get afterward.

Rejoice in even your smallest virtuous acts.

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Especially Grateful for Conflict

If you are having extreme difficulty in your life; with a person or a particular situation, then be grateful for it. What an opportunity to learn and grow.  

We are only capable of seeing things from within our own understanding and beliefs.  If you see a disturbing situation in the outside world then turn inside to find the conflict or troublesome belief.

Relationships are an excellent opportunity to identify where we need work if we only look inside for understanding and solutions.  Anger comes from our own thoughts and beliefs, not the actions of others.  Guilt is in our minds, it isn't a tangible object someone hands us to hold onto.  Hate means we have some serious conflict going on in there somewhere.


We begin healing the world by healing ourselves.


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Unlimitted Potential

"Yes it's this way" or "No it's that way" are limitting statements and beliefs.  You've already eliminated a wide range of possibilities.

Uncertainty - Beginners Mind, -leaves open a wide range of outcomes.

Attitues of "I don't know" or "let's find out" -  bravery - they open the door to unlimited potential.

If you TRULY look at your assumptions and question them every day, then change will come.  Start with a blank page to open potential.  If your life is perfect then don't bother.

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Worry?

If you can change it, why worry about it?

If you can't cange it, why worry about it?


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Impermanence

This glass will not last forever.  One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it - incredibly.     -Ajahn Chah







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Very Suspicious



Our thoughts come from our own minds.  Our vision happens in our own minds.  We don't see with our eyes.  Light enters our eyes, but it is our mind that composes the images we "see".  The same is true for what we hear, taste, and feel.  Our minds assimilate the data input through our sense organs and we develop a story or thought around them.  A thought, a story...same thing.

Our emotions and beliefs come from our own mind, not what is happening out there.

If you are very suspicious and distrustful of other people, what does that say about your beliefs, your actions ...your own mind?  Are you trustworthy?  Do you trust yourself?

It starts and ends with ourselves.  We experience reality through our minds.  Be trustworthy and you will begin to trust.

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Purifying Karma

Being fully present feels akward at first.  Our mind resists, wanting to jump to the future or hide in the past.

All destructive emotions - anger, fear,guilt/shame,  and depression -  are fabricated when our minds are focused on either the past or future.

Note that none of these emotions even exists outside of our minds.  We fabricate them when we are not being present in the moment, yet they rule our lives through mentally fabricated Karma.

Spend a few moments searching for your shame.  Can you find anything that "really" exists or will continue to be present without the fuel of your thoughts?  Do you create your own destructive emotions?  If so, could you extinguish them and entirely change your experience of life?

From drinking the nectar of all that is noble and good, may all beings be free of meaningless distractions and purify their conflicting emotions.

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The Four Preliminary Contemplations

Today I start a practice contemplating the Four Preliminary Contemplations in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.  These preliminaries are:

1. The presciousness of human birth.
“I am going to utilize this body by turning my mind to the Dharma.
2.  Impermance of all things.
3.  The suffering of samsara.
4.  The karmic cycle of cause and effect.

The preliminaries will set the stage for insight meditation and hopefully some insight into the end of suffering.

"Each day is not just another day; it is a day that is going to determine what direction we take in the future." - Traleg Kyabgon

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Thunder

Thunder
Awareness, looking for itself
hidden in the sound.