Sunday, April 29, 2012

The effects of anger

I've just finishing transcribing a talk for my teacher, Sayalay Susila. This was a talk given at Bhavana last summer, and it really struck a nerve each time I read through it this time during the editing process, just as it did when I first heard it last August. If you're prone to doubt the validity of what she's saying in the following excerpts, consider anger in your own life, first. I have personally observed countless times in the last 6 or 7 years when anger you have inside really does affect others -- friends or strangers -- even though you think you are keeping it inside yourself. And vice versa, I know from experience (for the last two years at my last job, for one example), where being in the presence of an angry person can have an adverse effect on me. I'm sure you can find similar instances.

There was a time in Eugene when I had lots of anger, and I observed that even people I'd encounter hiking the opposite direction from me on a popular trail up a small mountain in the area reacted to me negatively. I'd wonder why these people seemed so unfriendly, even though I'd said or done nothing to them. In time, I reflected on this a great deal as I hiked that trail (which I did quite often), and then I began to really see and hear the internal dialogue, such as 'damn, noisy kids coming', or 'a loose dog coming'. I heard judgments that affected the way I felt about those strangers, and thus it was easy to see that my own anger and judging might be influencing their obvious avoidance of me.

So, I began to experiment. When I'd see someone coming, I'd let go of whatever angry or judging thoughts I might have about them, and smile. Inevitably, every person or group of persons I treated with a smile (an inner smile as well as a physical smile) would respond in a more positive way.  Although I no longer have as much anger in my life, I struggled early last year and the previous year to stop my habit of anger, or annoyance mostly, with something or other when I was inside a store. Inevitably, my bad mood would affect the person who checked me out.

As I continued to find success with breaking the pattern, I also broke the pattern of unpleasant responses from others.  So, read what Sayalay has to say here, and give it some thought before discounting the sense behind her words. I haven't asked her if I could do this, but since her purpose is to teach, I hope she does not object! Please note that English is not her first language (she speaks six or seven!), and that when I transcribe and edit her words I try to leave as much of her personality and manner of speech as possible. I correct grammar, sometimes rearrange sentences to flow a bit better, but strive to leave her words as untouched as I can.

"According to Buddha’s teachings, and according to Chinese medicine, all emotions, all unwholesome mental states, affect the organs of our body. For example, anger affects the liver. Fear affects the kidneys. Every unwholesome thought hurts the organs, the internal organs. If a person gets angry very often, then if you go and see a Chinese physician, they know your liver is no good.  Because of the anger, our health becomes affected. When you get very angry, this energy travels from the internal up to the external, and if your good friend happens to come along, the friend will quickly turn away because the energy is so unbearable, even though you do not scold your good friend. But when you get angry, no one will come to approach you because the internal fire element has spread out to the external.
"This also has been shown by one of the Japanese scientists called the Immortal Masaru. I think you all have heard about this book, Messages of Water. He took one cup of water and uttered good words, he said ‘I’m grateful’ to this water. Then he put some of that water under a microscope and saw that the water had become very beautiful crystals. At another time he took water and said ‘you fool’, and other harsh speech to this water, then he put the sample under the microscope and this water had deformed crystals. Very angry crystals. So, even the water, which we think is inanimate being, still responds to our emotions.  How about a human being, a plant, the sea, the mountains, the moon, the sun, and everything on earth? 

 "Buddha said, indeed, when man becomes extremely corrupt in thoughts and deeds the energy rushes from this extensive earth up to the orbit of the moon, the suns and stars, reaching even the realm of space and the whole organic world. Our unwholesome thought is responsible for the destruction of the world, for all the destructive weather that we have now, the earthquakes, the tsunami, the hurricanes and so on. In fact our unwholesome thought, the energy from our unwholesome thought, travels far and affects the whole organic world. These are consequences."

Think about that, next time you're angry, or next time you listen to one of the many talking heads ranting and raving on TV and radio. All that anger really does affect us, and our world.

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