Before one thinks of doing good, one must seriously contemplate removing oneself from doing harm. Most people are basically kind and gentle but haven’t yet cured themselves of the reactive, injurious quality of their anger.
Few have taken tea with their outrage or confusion. Most try to push it away, causing it to explode unconsciously into a world already overflowing with violence and reactivity. To take responsibility for anger means to relate to it instead of from it. To be responsible is to be able to respond instead of
having to react. To react to it leaves life frozen in the mechanical action of old mind.
Everyone has anger because everyone has desires. It comes with the territory. Desire leads to anger. As desire moves toward its fulfillment, if something arises to block it, frustration occurs. That is why the deepest recognition of desire is necessary in the cultivation of non-injury in the world.
Relating directly to anger, we explore its roots. Examining the momentum of desire, one comes to understand deeply the push and pull of the mind, the nature of frustration itself, the feeling of not having, of more wanting, a denseness, a tightening, a nausea. Watching frustration closely, one explores the point where it nicks over into anger. The more often one watches this transformation, the sooner we notice anger upon the slightest arisal. The sooner we notice such potentially heavy states, the lighter they
become, and the more easily they are noted with the good humor of, “Big Surprise, anger again!”
Anger unexplored breeds anger. Anger explored leads to harmony. Exploring anger, we discover how isolated we feel when angry. As mercy develops, we see how painful it is to be in anger, and we are reminded to soften, to look gently on it as it arises. And we realize that we don’t have to hellishly react,
impulsively putting ourselves and the whole world out of our heart. Sensing the power of non-injury, we begin to respond to ourselves as we would to a frightened child, with a deeper kindness and care.
~ Stephen Levine