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Lions Roar : May 2015
ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES I’m Afraid of Other People’s Anger You can’t stop people from being angry at you, advises Insight Meditation teacher GINA SHARPE, but you can change how it makes you feel. Question: Buddhists talk a lot about working with your own anger, but what about other people’s anger? One of my main problems in life is that I’m afraid people will get angry at me. That makes me vulnerable, lack strength, and fear conflict. I am easily hurt by anger, and that sometimes makes me act hurtfully myself. How do I work with this fear? Answer: In saying that others’ anger “makes me vulnerable, lack strength, and fear conflict,” you are assuming that it is someone else’s mood, words, or acts that produce these effects in you. But if you look closely, you will recognize that your reac- tions to external experience actually derive from your internal thoughts and emotions, usually conditioned by past experience. When someone with whom you are interacting becomes angry, that is out of your control. What is within your control is how you meet it. Despite feeling hurt, you can meet others’ anger with patience, kindness, and balance, rather than fear and retaliation. It is possible to transform conditioned reactions that do not serve you into unconditioned responsiveness. This is easier said than done. Much of the work of Buddhist practice is to develop parami, the transcendent per- fections. These are the qualities of the fearless buddhaheart/mind: generosity, ethics, renunciation, wisdom, courageous effort, truthfulness, patience, resolve, PHOTOALTO/JOHNÉRIMAGES©SALLYANSCOMBE/STOCKSYUNITED Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. HOW TO EAT Thich Nhat Hanh’s tips for nourishing your life • When you prepare a meal with artful awareness, it is delicious and healthy. You have put your mind- fulness, love, and care into the meal, then people will be eating your love. People can fully enjoy the meal with body and mind, just like you enjoy a beautiful work of art. Eating is not only nourishing for the body, but also for the mind. • Sometimes people eat while watching TV. But even if you turn off the TV, the TV in your mind loving-kindness (the antidote to fear), and equanimity. Consistent and faithful practice leads to integrated development of these qualities, which progressively transforms reactivity into responsiveness. Having developed the fearless heart, you will be surprised and delighted at its natural, intuitively harmless, wise, and compassionate response. ♦ continues to run. So you have to also stop the TV in your head. If there is thinking still going on in your mind, you’ll be dispersed. To be truly present you need to not just turn off the television or radio in your house, you need to turn off the conversation and images in your head. • We don’t need to eat a lot to feel nourished. When we are fully there and alive for every morsel of food, we eat in a way that each bite fills us with peace and happiness. If we are full of this joy, we may find that we naturally feel satisfied with less food. From How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh, published by Parallax Press. PRACTICE SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2015 25 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE