[HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter seven, part one

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  • Kokuu
    Treeleaf Priest
    • Nov 2012
    • 6755

    [HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter seven, part one

    This week we will begin looking at chapter seven ‘Mad as Hell’, p97-108 (beginning of chapter to ‘Uncurbed in Eternal Glory’).

    Darlene begins this chapter talking about how being in pain and the strain of illness can leave us, as she puts it, on a short fuse as regards being short-tempered or reactive. In Buddhism, there can be confusion on how to handle anger. On one hand there is a sense of not denying anything that arises yet the ninth grave precept states ‘refrain from anger’. Darlene points out that often this can lead to people suppressing their anger for fear of not being seen to be a good Buddhist, and she further quotes some Abhidhamma teachings which seem to suggest the ‘domestication’ of our emotions.

    Addressing this, she talks about the dangers of either trying to go beyond our emotions, or to distance ourselves from them, becoming uncaring rather than equanimous. She quotes a koan about the Zen Master Chao-chou (also known as Zhaozhou or Joshu) who points out that no one is free of passion nor should we try to be.

    Darlene shares a story from her own past about reacting with anger to criticism from another Buddhist at Green Gulch (part of San Francisco Zen Center) and not even being able to see her state of mind as anything other than neutral. In this case, striving to be seen as equanimous when we are anything but can be more dangerous than acknowledging our tendency to anger.

    She goes on to talk about how a particular incident in a women’s group in which her outburst led her to examine the roots of her hostile reactions and her emotional fragility when challenged over things which conflicted with how she saw herself. She reports on initially noticing how quickly she numbed her emotions and how ‘jumping to a higher self’ can be a common way of dealing with emotions in spiritual communities, which are harmful both for the person doing it and the community as a whole.


    Question prompts:

    1. Do you resonate with Darlene’s description of illness and pain often causing us to operate with an emotionally short fuse?

    2. Have you observed yourself trying to deal with emotions by suppressing them or interacted with others who have this tendency?


    Gassho
    Kokuu

  • Tairin
    Member
    • Feb 2016
    • 2731

    #2
    Thank you Kokuu

    2. Have you observed yourself trying to deal with emotions by suppressing them or interacted with others who have this tendency?

    It was fascinating reading Darlene’s effort to deal with her anger issues. It wasn’t something I expected to read in a Zen book. I guess I am conditioned to thinking these authors have it all figured out. Of course they are just people too. Anyways I have a complicated relationship with anger too. For a long time I didn’t see this. I suppressed and repressed it. Maybe even in some ways justified it. I am sure I am guilty of the sorts of behaviours Darlene reported. Not to say I am a saint now but I definitely am more aware and reflective on my own anger, what is really fuelling it, how does it impact both my life and those around me? If/when these moments arise now I try to have a little sit with them. Why am I angry? Is it really because of what that person did or said? Is there some other root?

    I am a work in progress


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

    Comment

    • Kaitan
      Member
      • Mar 2023
      • 446

      #3
      1. Do you resonate with Darlene’s description of illness and pain often causing us to operate with an emotionally short fuse?

      Yes, physical pain takes most of the attention so everything else is more irritable tan usual. So when things are not going the way we want, having physical pain is suffocating.
      2. Have you observed yourself trying to deal with emotions by suppressing them or interacted with others who have this tendency?

      Yes, the term she uses of passive-agressive I never saw it as a way to repress emotions, rather like a way of being or personality flavor. And it describes so much of my life's struggles. And since the last year I tend to see myself bursting in anger, but I think that better way to handle anger and go around life than keeping it for oneself, it just feels good, even if it breaks the precept from time to time. Although that's also falling into an extreme, it isn't something that I've allowed myself to do for almost my entire life.
      The radical change of attitude she recommends I can only think about assertiveness, which I've always admired from people, but never felt capable of, perhaps with zen practice is achievable.

      Gasshō

      stlah, Kaitan

      Kaitan - 界探 - Realm searcher
      Formerly known as "Bernal"

      Comment

      • Alina
        Member
        • Jul 2023
        • 143

        #4
        Thank you Kokuu.

        1. Do you resonate with Darlene’s description of illness and pain often causing us to operate with an emotionally short fuse?
        Yes, I resonate with what she describes a lot. Reciting the 5 Remembrances has helped me to endure illness more, but for me it is emotionally exhausting to continue with all my duties while sick or in pain. I agree with Tairin when he says:
        I guess I am conditioned to thinking these authors have it all figured out. Of course they are just people too.
        Darlene's openness and honesty are some of the things I appreciate the most about this book.

        2. Have you observed yourself trying to deal with emotions by suppressing them or interacted with others who have this tendency?
        Yes, I have the habit of "keep calm and carry on" even if I am not OK at all. Zazen has helped me a lot to stop, listen to myself, say no, get some rest, etc. I am a work in progress too.


        Gassho
        Alina
        stlah

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