Tara Talks: Moving from Anger to Compassionate Action [Reflection]
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Here’s one of my favorite lines, this is
from a very dear friend and Buddhist teacher Ruth King, she says: ‘Anger is
initiatory, it is not transformative.’ ‘Anger is initiatory, it is not
transformative.’ We need the energy, it wakes us up, it alerts us; but then we
need to keep on going to what’s next. Another teacher of mine, Ruby Sales,
who’s a civil rights activist and an elder she describes non-redemptive
anger as when you lose access to your deepest intelligence and wisdom.
Redemptive anger is when you get energized but then you move on to out of care
acting. So what I’d like to do is take a moment to reflect, invite you to check in
with yourself. And just to give you a taste of these two steps that we can take, and the first is the U-turn where we come back to what’s actually going on inside us and the second step is to bring a really kind presence to what’s here; only then can we act from soul force. So you might reflect: scan this week,
last week where you might have felt hooked in your own way
in bad othering where you may have felt anger and blame
or contempt or hatred whatever level kind of fixate or hook on to a person or
a group and as part of checking this out, sense
what’s the worst part of this for you really what is most disturbing, so you’re
honestly recognizing what’s going on for you and for some of you there may not be,
it might not be so externalized on a societal level; maybe there’s a bad
othering going on in your immediate relationships, and you’d like to work
with that; you can too when you’re making somebody else wrong or the enemy, sensing the worst part and when you’ve really gotten in touch with the worst part, what you think is most distressing about this, what most upsets you; and there may be images with it and so on making the U-turn. And sense how the bad othering
feels in your body: what goes on, what’s it like when you’re blaming or angry when you feel hate or aversion how does your heart feel, and your mind and to deepen the attention, you might
sense if you weren’t caught in the anger what underneath that would you
have to feel that would be really painful? If you had to put aside
the anger and really drop under it, would it be feeling powerless? Would it be
feeling hurt? Would it be feeling brokenhearted on behalf of others? Would it be feeling fear that’s out of control and it’s going to get worse, that you’re threatened or others are threatened that you care about? What’s under the anger? What’s the most vulnerable place under
the anger? And you might even just put your hand on your heart as you pay attention, like, what’s really there? Holding a very kind presence with
whatever vulnerability is there breathing with it sensing under that the bad othering
is a place of hurt or fear or grief that you can bring tenderness to because if
you can come home to yourself in this way feeling the vulnerability and
bringing kindness there, then you might be able to sense your intention to be
part of the healing to really respond to our world from compassion, with that soul force if you’d like you can open your eyes. What we’re exploring together is the
inner work that evolves us from being dominated or hijacked by hatred; and some of you may have really gotten in touch with really strong, charged bad othering;
and other of you maybe they’re tired or distracted or maybe didn’t have bad
othering going on, and that’s totally fine you can just use this as kind of a
template for another time. But it’s a critical process for all of us at some
point if we want to transform our world and it takes really deep intention
because it’s so much easier to go into anger than it is to pause and feel
what’s underneath; anger is way easier. So it takes a really deep intention,
otherwise we get seduced, and we have to do it over and over; I didn’t just do one
round this week I’m not telling you about one time that I happened to say: ‘Oh, hatred never ceases by hatred’ – and paused. It was over and over again, because I
listen to the news every day, I’m pretty addicted these days to it, and I
have to listen and then I have to breathe and see where I’ve gotten
smaller, and reopen again. What I’d like to do is read you something I read from Gandhi years ago, that really stayed with me and this is him describing his own
spiritual unfolding in this realm, he says: ‘I hold myself to be incapable of
hating any being on earth; by a long course of prayerful discipline, I have
ceased for over 40 years to hate anybody. I know this is a big claim, nevertheless
I make it in all humility.’ 40 years, okay? 40 years;
but what I love about this is that that was the center of his prayer: ‘Please may
this heart awaken to love, may I wake up out of hate’; and that’s what’s possible for us, that we can evolve, we can evolve this heart and the society’s heart. [bells]

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