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Lions Roar : September 2014
T o PrACtICe WIth AnGer—rather than simply being a victim of it—is to make the effort to respect and understand it. This involves being willing to look more deeply at the complex of negative emo- tions, which naturally arise as part of our human condition. It requires that we take responsibility for these emotions so we can begin to do something creative with them. Buddhism is justly valued for its many effective and sen- sible ways of working with anger. All these ways depend on basic mindfulness, the ability to create the inner space nec- essary to investigate and be fully present with an emotion. Strong emotions, especially negative ones like greed, anger, jealously, and so on, spin us around. Mindfulness gives us a chance to be present with an emotion before we start spinning or even while we are spinning. Rather than being propelled and likely blinded by what we think we want, we are present and willing to see more widely and openly what is actually happening. Such seeing changes what we experience, how we behave, and, ultimately, the sorts of things that happen to us. In addition, Buddhism offers more intentional, active prac- tices that support and are supported by mindfulness. In recent years, I have been practicing the lojong, or “mind training,” teachings of Tibet. This is a collection of practices to trans- form negative emotions into sympathy, love, and compassion. The most famous of all the lojong texts, The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind, is based on a list of fifty-nine practice slogans. These slogans are memorable, often humorous aphorisms that point us in an advantageous spiritual direction. My Zen-inflected method of working with a slogan is to copy it again and again in a notebook and repeat it to myself silently during meditation. I stay with the slogan until all my ideas about it become boring and there is only the slogan itself, like a good wise friend, urging me on. When you practice like this, the slogan will start to pop into your mind unbidden, a substitute for the many other mindless thoughts that otherwise would be popping up. And every time it does, it reminds you of your practice and of the necessity of working with your emo- tions not just when you’re meditating and feeling spiritual but all the time, especially in the midst of problems. I’d like to discuss five lojong slogans and how they can be helpful in working with anger. PHOTOBYROBERTHOFMANN norman fiScher is the founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation. His most recent book is Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of lojong. Abandon Hope & Other Surprising Slogans to Help You Handle Anger photo iLLuStrationS by marguerite SandS Zen teacher normAn FISCher applies five mind-training slogans to anger and other strong emotions SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2014 54