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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 79 dards, the rent was cheap. It wasn’t until a few weeks later—just before I moved in— that I found out why. It turned out that my landlord had been having troubles with his own marriage. One night, in a fit of rage, he had killed his wife. In my new apartment. The message could not have been clear- er: this is what can happen if you let anger win. THREE YEARS of working with Buddhist insights and practice have certainly not turned me into a saint, but occasionally I see evidence of progress. My writing desk faces a window that looks out on the street. My neighborhood is generally quiet, but several days ago a stranger parked a luxury car directly out- side. After a few minutes, its car alarm started going off—the worst kind, the one where the horn continually bleats. I sat there trying to work, getting increasingly frustrated and annoyed. Finally, I wrote a note, and then I marched out and stuck it under the windshield. (What kind of note? Let’s put it this way: the salutation read “Dear Asshole.”) When I came back inside, I sat there listening to the alarm. And I stared at my note. It took a while, but eventually my new training kicked in. At first I thought my blast of anger would cause the owner of the car to feel regretful and ashamed; I finally realized that it would only make him angry in return. I replaced it with a new note. I did my best to keep my emotions out of it. Calmly, I explained that the car alarm was broken. What else did I have to say? I didn’t need to inflate the problem by adding all sorts of self-righteousness and drama; I just called it to his attention, and then I let it go. At the end of a long path, after exten- sive mental training, we might hope to become completely free of anger. In the meantime, it can act as a fire that con- sumes us, or a bell that warns us when something is wrong—not with our cir- cumstances, but with the way that we’re thinking about them. The choice is ours. ♦ SEPT 74-79.indd 79 SEPT 74-79.indd 79 7/7/08 9:47:00 AM 7/7/08 9:47:00 AM