Anger Be Gone

If the following opening sentences do not make sense to you, go back and read the previous post to this one.

Now when I reach into the flatware drawer to set the table, I smile. Why did I delay so long in giving myself this pleasure? Undoubtedly the answer to that rather deep question has something to do with another that I have been reflecting on for several weeks now – the incredibly deeply rooted habit (my Master would call it a sanskara) of anger as my “go to” emotion. Go to it to motivate, go to it to react, go to it to energize, go to it to pull myself out of lethargy… carry with me through every day, no matter how happy or relaxed or fun, a central core of anger as the seeming essence of my being.

Not surprisingly, what was modeled for me as a child was anger – uncontrolled, savage, irrational and yet posited as acceptable. My mother was a sadly mentally ill woman whose primary interface with the world was negativity – expecting disaster, creating it when it did not come fast enough, and reacting to every event in her day with rage. Should I be foolish enough, in my little girl enthusiasm, as to suggest that the day promised to be a sunny and good one for a planned picnic, she would most certainly respond that I had invited the “evil eye” to bring rain to spoil our outing. Any event that I dared let myself look forward to was certain to be turned sour by her finding some fault with my behavior and withdrawing my participation in whatever I had anticipated enjoying.

Nicola Upson is the author of books featuring Josephine Tey (a pseudonym for author Elizabeth MacKintosh) as an investigator, the one I’ve just finished being An Expert in Murder. Near the end, there is mention made of a line from the play by Tey entitled Richard of Bordeaux, that was performed in London in the mid 1930’s. The quote is “When joy is killed, it dies forever, but happiness one can grow again.” No wonder, when I mentioned recently that I would like to rid myself of the anger core but didn’t know what could replace it, I was not able to relate to the suggestion given me “use joy instead.”

Not so very long ago, I explored in depth my inability to know the meaning of unconditional love. I knew responsibility, caring, generosity, acceptance, forgiveness – but very little about love. In the 25 years since, I’ve been gifted to come to understand what love can be, and to experience it both flowing in toward and out from myself. With that deprivation eliminated, I have also known happiness. Indeed, when asked these days “how are you doing?” I know internally that the answer is “I’m basically very happy”, even if in the moment I feel tired, or am experiencing some passing stress from a life event. Expressing that happiness is still not familiar – remnants of the evil eye indoctrination apparently still have a hold on my mind. But I do recognize the happiness that underlies my days.

I also recognize, however, that I have not yet managed to slough off the fundamental anger reaction that was trained into me at the same time that joy was beaten out. The Master teaches that there are five habits of mind that must be released, in the process of transitioning one’s sense of identity from the illusory to the real. These are anger, greed, vanity, lust and attachment.  Greed, vanity and lust have not so far given me much challenge. Facing the loss of home and everything in it to wildfire fifteen years ago went a long way to teaching me to release attachments – though I recognize I am attached to anger still.

What has happily changed is my recognition of the sanskara of anger- and a realization that I wish to be released from this residual attachment. My beloved Teacher tells us “recognition is enough” to begin the process of change. Willingness to be changed follows. I don’t have to know what will replace anger as the core motivator that moves me forward, has me complete the chores and work that I might otherwise leave undone. I only have to be open to be shown what gift will be bestowed on me, to enable me to accomplish the many tasks remaining before my life comes to a close. Just as my relationships have become positive and loving after a long stretch of dutiful responsibility, I am confident that the replacement for anger will be a warm and nurturing emotion for which I may not have a name.

Unless Miss Tey was wrong, and joy can be resurrected?

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