This past year, I have experienced some conflicts at work and in my personal life. My conflicts have inspired me to learn more about anger. Anger is natural, and in my case, it came about as a combination of self-preservation and as a reaction to my ego being attacked. This lesson has made me aware of how I want to protect myself in order to be of service to the greater whole. To do that, I need to be aware of when I become defensive in order to protect myself, as opposed to protecting my ego. My practice is to learn how to protect myself without having conflicts where I harm others. It is a new practice for me.
In the essay titled “Blame Everything on One Thing,” found in the book All the Rage: Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance, B. Alan Wallace writes about a traditional Buddhist maxim that is part of a mind-training practice. He explains that we can blame everything that angers us on one thing. That thing is self-centredness. In many cases, this can help us to experience less anger, and less suffering as a result. He is talking about being less self-centred and selfish; he expands that it would be foolish to take it too far. We must continue to take care of the things that provide us with safety, like a roof over our head, and what we need for survival, like food and water. This, of course, means I must still try to keep my job and I cannot give everything that I possess away to charity– just like the mother on a plane that is crashing, she must save herself before she can save her baby.
One day while on the bus, I was almost at my bus stop, and I stood ready to push open the door. The door requires a soft push on the bar which activates an opening mechanism. A man stood behind me. At the stop, he put his hand over my head and pushed as I was pushing. In this moment I felt angry. It felt insulting to my ego. Either he did not think I had the strength to open the door or he was impatient. Either way, it felt insulting. But it really had nothing to do with preserving my safety and security, and in the end, I let it be. It would be a waste for me to let this truly upset me.
We may expect that with practicing over time we will become better at blaming our self-centredness. This practice helps us to feel more connected with people around us. Instead of being self-centred, our concern is for the welfare of others. This reduces the conflict in our lives. Now instead of trying to take everything for ourselves, we are more interested in giving to those around us.
Proofread by Leona B. Hunt, BA, proofreader