Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Avoiding the Hook

I have a flaw that I decided was time to completely eradicate. It's my quickness to anger. I'm not sure where it comes from but I tend to fly off the handle for the smallest reason. I cuss out thoughtless drivers (of which I'm one but hopefully that will change when my anger subsides.) I get really mad when I drop something or hurt myself. But nothing tops getting my feelings hurt over a word. It could be just one word. Just the wrong word. Just one word can hook me into a downward spiral. I've had enough of that and went searching where I always search, where I always find the answer and where it has always felt right. Buddhism.
I found an interview that Bill Moyers did with Pema Chodron. She talked about being addicted to escalating aggression. You know it won't benefit you but you do it anyway. You can't help yourself. You know you will pay for what you're about to say but you say it anyway. You know you will reek short term havoc but you make your move and pay the price. What an absurd waste of time. Here is part of the interview.

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: So it's all about that the end of suffering has to do with how you relate with pain. Let's distinguish just for semantics, the difference between, let's call pain the unavoidable and let's call suffering what could what could lessen and dissolve in our lives. So, if there's sort of a basic phrase you could say that it isn't the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it's how we relate to the things that happen to us that causes us to suffer. One of the things that this eighth century Indian Buddhist master, Shantideva, one of the things he says about this whole thing is work with little grievances such as the middle seat instead of the aisle seat or your favorite restaurant being closed or not being able to get into the movie. Or whatever it is, you know? He says "There's nothing that does not grow easier through familiarity." Putting up with little cares, I'll train myself to work with great adversity. So in other words, the premise there is that if you work with two, feeling hot and feeling cold, you work with mosquito bites and aisle and middle seats. And at that level, notice that you're hooked and work with not escalating it--

BILL MOYERS: You're hooked?

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: Yeah. That I'm hooked. Hooked is an interesting quality to me.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by it?

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: I mean, not only has something, evoked a response in me but it's going to be difficult for me to let go. Anger is like that for sure. Prejudice is like that. Critical mindedness is like that. You don't want to let go. There's something delicious about finding fault with something. And that can be including finding fault with one's self, you know? So that's what I mean by hooked. You're sort of it because of the image of a fish and the hook and it has this juicy worm on it and you know the consequences aren't going to be good. But you cannot resist. And one of the main things we're addicted to is escalating aggression.

BILL MOYERS: So you escalate the anger.

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: So I escalate the anger, you know? My teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, he calls it pouring kerosene on the fire, you know? In an attempt to put it out, you pour kerosene on the fire.

BILL MOYERS: I like that. I like the idea of being hooked. It's a new metaphor for me in the-

PEMA CHÖDRÖN: The word in Tibetan is Shenpa. And I've been teaching a lot about it lately because when I heard this teaching from one of my main teachers, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, I thought this is fabulous. Because he says it isn't the words themselves that you're saying to yourself. It isn't the emotions. It's this charge behind them that's the Shenpa. It's this hooked quality this difficult to let go. In my case, I read a book by Ch–gyam Trungpa Rinpoche. And it really resonated, you know?


robin said...

Wow, I wouldn't have thought you had that "flaw" I sure can relate to it though!

In Stephen Covey's "The 7 habits of highly effective people" He says Habit #1 is Be Proactive.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.

It's so easy to be reactive! You get caught in the moment. What we all need he says is a "pause button". something that enables us to stop between what happens to us and our response to it, and to choose our own response.

He says it's possible for us a individuals to develop this capacity to pause with the use of 4 uniquely human gifts

Self-awareness(we can observe our thoughts), Conscience(our moral or ethical sense or "inner voice"), Imagination(ability to envision something entirely different from our past experience), and Independent will(the power to take action).

These four gifts reside in the space we humans have between what happens to us and or response to it.

"The space between"

It sounds like the Buddhist answer is to practice on small things and you can then deal with the big things too!

Great Posting Shelly!

Anonymous said...

That was a very interesting and thought provoking post as it relates to so many things.



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