“When others make us angry at them–at their shamelessness, injustice, inconsideration–they exercise power over us, they proliferate and gnaw at our soul, then anger is like a white-hot poison that corrodes all mild, noble, and balanced feelings and robs us of sleep. Sleepless, we turn on the light and are angry at the anger that has lodged like a succubus who sucks us dry and debilitates us. We are not only furious at the damage, but also that it develops in us all by itself, for while we sit on the edge of the bed with aching temples, the distant catalyst remains untouched by the corrosive force of the anger the eats at us. On the empty internal stage bathed in the harsh light of mute rage, we perform all by ourselves a drama with shadow figures and shadow words we hurl against enemies in helpless range… And the greater our despair that it is only a shadow play and not a real discussion with the possibility of hurting the other and producing a balance of suffering, the wilder the poisonous shadows dance and haunt us even in the darkest catacombs our dreams. (We will turn the tables, we think grimly, and all night long forge words that will produce in the other the effect of a fire bombs that now he will be the one with the flames of indignation raging inside while we, sooth by schadenfreude, will drink our coffee in cheerful calm.)
What could it mean to deal appropriately with anger? We really do’t want to be soulless creatures who remain thoroughly indifferent to what they come across, creatures who appraisals consist only of cool, anemic judgments and nothing can shake them up because nothing really bothers them. Therefore, we can’t seriously wish not to know the experience of anger and instead persist in an equanimity that wouldn’t be distinguished from tedious insensibility. Anger also teaches something about who we are. Therefore this what I ‘d like to know: What can it mean to train ourselves in anger and imagine that we take advance of its knowledge without being addicted to its poison?
We can be sure that we will hold on to the deathbed a part of the last balance sheet–and this part will taste bitter as cyanide–that we have wasted too much, much too much strength and time on getting angry and getting even with other in a helpless shadow theater, which only we, who suffered in impotently, knew anything about. Why did our parents, teachers and other instructors…Not give us in this case any compass that could have helped us avoid wasting our soul on useless, self-destructive anger.” ~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (pp.377-378)
7 replies to “early morning reading”
Anger is a very negative emotion….
I have found that it is also one that propels me to act…sometimes in an effect manner but most of the time…more destructive than effective.
“He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me.” Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.”
Dhammapada – Pairs 3
I needed this reminder today, thank you.
Form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness.
– Heart Sutra
Night train to Lisbon, what a wonderful book! Thank you!
Thanks Kenza…it is an amazing read!
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