Kill Your Rage - Beyond Ego
See through your anger, says brash Brad Warner, hardcore
punk musician and Zen priest. All beliefs and authorities must
be challenged on the road beyond ego.
Ohio, February 1982: It's way below freezing outside. But in here
it's so hot I feel like I'm going to melt into a puddle on the
floor. I stand, legs akimbo, sticker-encrusted Musicmaster bass
in hand, on the slightly raised platform near the bar at The Dale,
a tiny pub near Akron University. Every dilapidated muscle in
my undernourished body is flexed and ready for action.
the A-Bomb on meeeee!' Jimi Imij, shaven-headed lead singer of
Zero Defex shrieks as drummer Mickey X-Nelson counts in the beat
and Tommy Strange and I attack our guitars. A mass of furious
fuzztone erupts from the amplifiers and the pit comes alive with
surging bodies smashing into each other like a 40-car collision.
Eighteen seconds later the song is over. An uneasy calm, like
a cease-fire just about to be called off, falls over the crowd
for a few tense seconds until Jimi shouts 'Die Before More of
This!', the title of the next song. We launch into another feedback-laden
aural assault and the crowd is free once more to pummel each other
American hardcore punk movement of the early 1980s was all about
anger. We were pissed off at the senile B-movie actor who'd somehow
been elected President. We were mad as hell at the Bible-thumping
lunkheads who wanted to curtail all forms of free speech. We were
enraged at the mind-numbing complacency of a generation of vacant-eyed
mall rats - our so-called peers - who didn't seem to notice that
we were being led down the path towards global Armageddon.
the same time I was screaming my lungs out at hypocrisy, greed
and bad fashion, I was also discovering Zen Buddhism, a philosophy
that said the best thing you could do for world peace was to sit
with your legs twisted up like a pretzel and stare at a wall.
You could hardly find two more seemingly contradictory philosophies.
Even so, I never felt the desire to leave behind my punk rock
ways in order to follow the path of Zen. If anything, I'm more
punk now than I was back then. At their core both punk and Zen
share some important key criteria. They are both about action
in the present moment, about doing something right now and about
taking responsibility for your own life. The reason the punks
believed they had to vent their anger was because they hadn't
followed their own philosophy of totally rejecting society right
to the end. They were still reacting to anger the way society
told them to. And yet, sometimes shouting 'Drop the A-bomb on
meeeee!' is the most Buddhist thing you can do. There's a vast
difference between art about anger and anger itself.
what does one do about anger? When I first heard one of my Buddhist
teachers say that anger should be repressed, it sounded not only
absurd but positively unhealthy. Everyone knows you don't bottle
up your anger, you let it out. Now I can see what he meant. When
I looked a little more carefully it became apparent that anger
wasn't some substance that built up inside of me and which I could
'let out' and be rid of. There was nothing in which anger could
be bottled up. The process of letting anger out was actually the
process by which more anger was produced.
that's not what anger is, what is it?
meditation is all about understanding the state you're in here
and now - and since I was often consumed with black rage as I
sat on my black cushion - I've often focused my attention during
zazen practice on understanding the real source of anger. It took
a long time to see anger for what it was, and when I did I was
sometimes hear the idea that our emotions are the things that
keep us human. They are not. Our emotions - all of them - get
in the way of us experiencing what it really is to be human.
always believed that anger was somehow something apart from myself,
that 'I' experienced 'my' anger. But as my Zen practice deepened
it began to dawn on me that this was not the case at all. It wasn't
that I could eradicate those qualities about myself I'd labeled
as negative, while leaving the good stuff intact, like cutting
off the rotten parts of a carrot left in the fridge too long and
cooking the rest. I had to die completely. The source of anger,
hate and fear was the same as the source of that collection of
ideas and habits I had mistakenly called 'me' for most of my life.
isn't just anger and other so-called 'negative' states that are
the problem. It is that whole collection of things you call your
'self'. The very same force that makes it possible for you to
gush all over a fuzzy little puppy dog with icky sweet love is
the force that makes it possible for you to hate with passion
and lash out with anger. There is no love without hate, no happiness
without depression. It's like a rollercoaster. If you go up, you're
gonna have to come back down.
can be your teacher. Anger can be your guide. It's a mistake to
try and overcome them with emotions that seem to be their opposites.
Emotions all stem from the same source. See your anger for what
it is and then you can see yourself for what you are. And yet
there is something else ... for want of a better term, I'll call
is not bliss, by the way. Bliss is what you get from a heroin
overdose. Numbness is numbness no matter how many 'spiritual masters'
tell you it's bliss. Joy cannot be willed into being by thought
or by cultivating vague memories of past experiences of it, even
if those experiences were true. It comes only when body and mind
are in perfect balance. And - more importantly - when we are at
perfect balance with our own circumstances, when we no longer
fight against reality. Not fighting against reality doesn't mean
mindlessly accepting the way things are without trying to change
anything. In fact, the only way to change your circumstances is
to stop fighting them. To do this we have to understand clearly
what we really are at every moment.
you're serious about transcending anger you must be willing to
give up everything. I'm afraid most people - including many who
say they're Buddhists - are not at all serious about it. We've
invented a million clever methods of building up our ego while
pretending to tear it down.
you learn to appreciate and fully experience each and every moment
just as it is, anger will become less and less of a problem until
it finally disappears entirely. Anger begins very small. It's
always based upon the difference between how you think things
should be and how they actually are. Within this gap, the fiction
known as 'you' appears and reacts. In order to protect this fiction,
you start to justify your anger, to build a convincing case to
prove to yourself you have the right be angry. This can happen
quickly, so it's important to stay right on top of it. To repress
anger consciously means you do not allow yourself any excuses.
You do not accept any of the justifications for anger your ego
coughs up, no matter how reasonable you can make them sound. This
is the only way to reach the source of anger and be finished with
fought hard against this, like an alcoholic fights against the
realisation that the only way to stop being an alcoholic is to
just stop drinking. He can no longer fool himself with the idea
that he can drink today and then quit tomorrow. I could no longer
pretend it was OK to get angry today about some situation in which
I was clearly in the right as long as I didn't get angry at my
girlfriend when we argued.
always stems from the belief that you are right and your circumstances
are somehow 'wrong'. When you think you're right - when you know
for certain you're right - in the face of circumstances that are
somehow 'wrong', that's when you need to look hard at what's actually
happening inside. Your habit of reacting with anger has been built
up over long years of reinforcement from a society gone terribly
wrong. Society is made up of people all clinging to the fiction
of ego who draw support for this idea from the fact that so many
others believe it.
you have to take this all the way ... as far as it can go. You
can't stop at anger. You have to see love, kindness, selflessness
and compassion the same way. Your ideas of these 'positive' states
can be just as much of a hindrance as anger.
a dire mistake to view our ordinary state as a thing we can somehow
fix by forcing it to conform to a self-invented ideal. If we don't
understand our own delusions - including the delusions we call
'positive' clearly, we'll never know if what we label as 'love'
is the real deal or just another fantasy thrown up by our over-stimulated
imaginations. Anger arises out of the belief in the individual
self. When there is no 'you' there is nothing for 'you' to get
angry about, and nobody outside yourself to feel angry with.
from - www.DharmaLife.com