A Zen student came to Bankei, a Zen master, and said: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper – how can I cure it?”
“Show me this temper,” said Bankei, “it sounds fascinating.”
“I haven’t got it right now,” said the student, “so I can’t show it to you.”
“Well then,” said Bankei, “bring it to me when you have it.”
“But, I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” protested the student. “It arises unexpectedly, and I would surely lose it before I got it to you.”
“In that case,” said Bankei, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you – so it must come into you from the outside. I suggest that whenever it gets into you, you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can’t stand it, and runs away.”
It is very easy to control; it is very difficult to transform. You can control your anger, but what will you do? You will suppress it. And, what happens when you suppress a certain thing? The direction of its movement changes: it was going out, and if you suppress it, it starts going in – just its direction changes.
And, for anger to go out was good, because the poison needs to be thrown out. It is bad for anger to move within, because that means your whole body-mind structure will be poisoned by it. You have suppressed so much anger, now there are no moments when you are not angry; at the most, sometimes you are less angry, sometimes more. Your whole being is poisoned by suppression. You eat with anger – and, it has a different quality when a person eats without anger: it is beautiful to watch him, because he eats non-violently. He may be eating meat, but he eats non-violently; you may be eating just vegetables and fruits, but if anger is suppressed, you eat violently.
Just through eating, your teeth, your mouth release anger. You crush food as if this is the enemy. And, remember: whenever animals are angry, what will they do? Only two things are possible – they don’t have weapons and they don’t have atom bombs, what can they do? Either with their nails or with their teeth they will do violence to you. These are the natural weapons of the body – nails and teeth.
Be aware, and transform
Sensitivity grows with awareness. Through control you become dull and dead – that is part of the mechanism of control. If you are dull and dead then nothing will affect you; it is as if the body has become a citadel, a defence. Nothing will affect you, neither insult nor love.
Anger transformed becomes compassion – because, the energy is the same.
So remember, if you condemn a natural phenomenon it becomes poisonous, it destroys you, it becomes destructive and suicidal. If you transform it, it becomes divine, Anger is just like electricity in your body: you don’t know what to do with it. Either you kill somebody else or you kill yourself. The society says if you kill yourself it is okay, it is your concern, but don’t kill anybody else – and, as far as society goes that is okay.
So, either you become aggressive, or you become repressive.
The basic thing that is needed is to become aware and to know the secret of this energy, anger, this inner electricity. It is electricity because you become hot; when you are angry your temperature gets hot. Electricity is hot – it becomes the source of air-conditioning. Anger is hot – it becomes the source of compassion.
Compassion is inner air-conditioning. Suddenly, everything is cool and beautiful, and nothing can disturb you, and the whole existence is transformed into a friend.
Awareness is needed, not condemnation – and, through awareness transformation happens spontaneously. If you become aware of your anger, understanding penetrates. Just watching, with no judgment, not saying good, not saying bad, just watching your inner sky. There is lightning, anger, you feel hot, the whole nervous system is shaking and quaking, and you feel a tremor all over the body – a beautiful moment, because when energy functions you can watch it easily. When it is not functioning you cannot watch.
Close your eyes and meditate on it.
It is mysterious, and if mystery is not understood it becomes terrible, you are afraid of it. And, whenever a mystery is understood, it becomes a grace, a gift, because now you have the keys – and, with keys you are the master.
First things, first. Do not throw your temper on anybody.
Next time, you feel angry go and run around the house seven times, and after that sit under a tree, and watch where the anger has gone. You have not repressed it, you have not controlled it, you have not thrown it on somebody else – because, if you throw it on somebody else a chain is created, because the other is as foolish as you, as unconscious as you. He will throw more anger on you; he is repressed as much as you are. Then, there comes a chain: you throw on him, he throws on you, and you both become enemies.
Anger is just a mental vomit. Something is wrong that you have taken in and your whole psychic being wants to throw it out.
You can go for a long walk – it means that something is inside that needs fast activity so that it is released. Just do a little jogging, and you will feel it is released.
Take a pillow and beat it, fight with the pillow, and bite the pillow until your hands and teeth are relaxed. Within a five-minute catharsis you will feel unburdened, and once you know this you will never throw it on anybody, because that is absolutely foolish.
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!