Monday, August 4, 2008

Anger (2) - a short-lived madness

Anger is a complex subject. It is linked to so many other emotions (hatred, envy, fear, pride) and qualities (humility, patience, courage, forgiveness). Having a British upbringing and being something of a phlegmatic introvert by nature, I am not much given to anger in general. But, as the saying goes ‘beware the wrath of a patient man’, I have sometimes surprised myself with an occasional fit of anger, out of all proportion to the cause.
The cause is neither here nor there, it is my frame of mind that is to blame. When it happens, I know that I need to take a break and step back to see the wider picture. And what I always see is a lack of awareness that has crept up on me, a feeling of having lost my way, of having lost myself almost. And then I turn to philosophy again (which I should have been doing earlier) and realign my thinking along wiser paths.
The best antidote for anger that I know is the Tao Te Ching, particularly the Dervy edition in French, with explanatory notes. A few hours bathing in the Taoist waters of humility, detachment and simplicity soon puts things back into perspective, for me at least and perhaps for you also.

Do not think your house too small, do not be disgusted with your life. Do not despise your condition and you will not grow weary of it. (72)

For me, there are three precious things to which I am attached and that I hold in high esteem: the first, love; the second, frugality; the third, humility, by which we may dare to put ourselves in the forefront to act in the World.
With love, we can be audacious; with frugality, we can be generous; with humility, we can accomplish great things.
These days, we lack love and therefore courage; we lack frugality and therefore generosity; we refuse the last place and therefore lose the first. It is certainly the way of death! But if we have love as our weapon, we will surely be victorious. He who practices that is invincible, Heaven helps him and he is protected by his mercy. (67)

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond