Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


Cross-eyed angry or wrathful compassion?

I struggle with anger. At least 2-3 times daily I blow up. I should clarify that statement.  I don’t become angry on my own behalf: I’m okay when people don’t like me, or think I’m too poetic, too crazy, too liberal…:) I become passionate, however (and vocal!), when faced w/ injustice. And yet it’s always seemed to me that anger is, w/out exception, a negative state, a painful condition, and basically something to overcome.

So imagine my happiness at learning the term ‘wrathful compassion.’ YES! Found: a term to describe the way I go off, as everyone who knows me knows, on social injustice. It drives me NUTS when people’s individual (and collective) rights are abrogated in the name of, oh, profit. Racism. Greed. Ignorance. Or just plain stupidity (don’t underestimate that one). And I keep thinking (despite much evidence to the contrary) that people want to KNOW about these injustices. That they want to FIX them.

There are actually deities in Tibetan Buddhism whose ‘jobs’ revolve around actively protecting faithful Buddhists from evil, inside & out. Palden Llamo is one of my favourites, the only female among the 8 Dharampalas. She is the protector of Buddhist governments, but is also a rabid pacifist, sacrificing her own child to force her war-monger husband to acknowledge the grief of loss. I’m not quite that pacificistic, but you have to admire the woman’s principles. Wasn’t it Jefferson who said that to keep one unnecessary soldier was a crime?

Another Dharampala I respect is Mahakala. Consider him the flip side of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. Mahakala is the active principle, uprooting negativity. I wish I thought that when I get so angry, I was Mahakala. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I’m more harpy than Buddhist diety…

So what can I do? How to balance compassion w/ the need to change wrong-doing in the world? How does an engaged Buddhist walk the very narrow line between anger and wrathful compassion? If my ‘job’ — my mission? — is:

the understanding of the complete yet complicated interdependence of all life. It is the practice of the bodhisattva vow to save all beings. It is to know that the liberation of ourselves and the liberation of others are inseparable. It is to transform ourselves as we transform all our relationships and our larger society. It is work at times from the inside out and at times from the outside in, depending on the needs and conditions. It is is to see the world through the eye of the Dharma and to respond emphatically and actively with compassion.

then how do I accomplish that?

Lately I’ve just gone to ground. More than a week has passed since I’ve blogged. Instead? I’ve worked in my garden, finding grapes beneath the damn grapevine smothering the climbing roses (great metaphor, that!). Watching birds feed their young. Listening to spring in full orchestra. And going back to meditation practice, which I have to remind myself is not nearly as effective when you just think about it… In other words, returning to that still point of balance. It helps me sift the chaff of anger from the useful wrathful compassion that can actually do some good.

I SO wish it was easier being a beginner….



Previous Posts

ritual and being our own best friends
So yes, I am the person who will make Việtnamese coffee w/ a stainless steel straw, bought specifically for the occasion. Because ritual rocks. Seriously: it offers us structure and space, time to sip a cold drink and pamper ourselves, as we would a loved one. A dear friend. Someone who needs a

posted 1:09:23pm Jul. 23, 2014 | read full post »

friendship, memory, and love
My mother-in-law has a friend! This may not sound like a big deal to many of you, but those of us w/ family in elder care KNOW it's bigger than it may sound. Nursing homes -- even good ones -- aren't conducive to happiness, sadly. My beloved mother-in-law was used to her own place, her own schedule

posted 1:18:07pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

time travel
Today over lunch, my husband & I went back in time. We don't do that very often -- it's boring for other folks, and it's just not really us. At least, not most of the time... But today for some reason, it jus

posted 9:07:23pm Jul. 20, 2014 | read full post »

where memories live
This is the tag on my father's blanket. The blanket he had long before I was born, probably bought before my mother reunited with him in the Phillipines, 13 months after they married. It's a softly worn (once scratchy) wool, something like the old Pendleton three-stripe blankets (and it has three

posted 4:02:09pm Jul. 19, 2014 | read full post »

wildflowers, watermelon, and summer negligence
This is part of what I did today. Certainly the better part. After an early morning -- spent w/ a lawyer, not every my favourite thing to do -- my sister called and needed help. She'd been left holding the bag (actually, 6 bags) for her HS reunion gig tonight, and hoped her big sis would help out

posted 7:43:37pm Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.