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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 49 YOUR ANGRY CHILD You are the mother for your anger, your baby. — THICH NHAT HAHN Face it, you’re angry. Anger is so unpleasant, so altogether ugly, that we usually attribute it to someone else. Someone else made you angry, that certain someone who tore out your heart and ruined your life. It’s easy to blame others for our injuries, but if we persist in seeing our own anger as the unavoidable outcome of someone else’s actions, we are going to be angry for a very long time. Anger is power, and blame is powerlessness. When we take responsibility for our anger, we take back our power to change. That power has never belonged to anyone else. This is what Thich Nhat Hahn teaches when he suggests we view our anger as a howling baby. No one wants to be around it, but it cannot be ignored. Someone needs to do something about that baby! The baby is yours, and the only one who can do anything is you. However disagreeable the infant is, you pick the baby up and place it in your lap. Then you rock and comfort her, and wait. You attend to yourself without judgment or blame. In this way, anger wears itself out. The baby goes to sleep. In the wake of anger, you may find the strength and determination to live differently. If you don’t, you haven’t yet seen fully to the needs of your own screaming child. You are rejecting it still. There’s time. You’ll have many opportunities to quiet the rage. You’ll have many chances to apply the alchemy of your own gentle attention to what- ever is disturbing you. Screaming babies go to sleep, eventually, and every wise parent learns to let a sleeping baby be. BE COMPLETELY SAD When you’re sad, be sad. — MAEZUMI ROSHI Anger, we despise, but sadness, we might cherish. At least I did. Sorrow can seem such a rich and complex place to dwell; we might forget that it, too, is impermanent. One time I went to see Maezumi Roshi after a meditation session in which the tears streamed in rivulets down my cheeks. “I’m sitting in a field of sadness,” I said to him. I was a tiny bit pleased by my poetic expression. I thought we might talk about it, rooting out the cause, and apply a treatment. “When you’re sad, be sad,” he said. And that was Country Scene The waterfall plunges in mist. Who can describe this desolate scene: the long white river sliding through the emerald shadows of the ancient canopy ...a shepherd’s horn echoing in the valley, fishnets stretched to dry on sandy flats. A bell is tolling, fading, fading just like love. Only poetry lasts. —HO XUAN HUONG From Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong, translated by John Balaban. © 2000 by John Balaban. Reprinted with permission from The Permissions Company Inc. on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.