Live Zen on a daily basis: how to tame the emotions? The example of anger

- through Henry Oudin

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What if we learned not to let ourselves be carried away by the surges of anger?

We are all the victims of these emotions which take us by surprise without really announcing themselves, untimely and unsightly visitors, they spoil our mood, darken our days and, often, painfully affect those around us. Bad fairies who bend over the cradle of our days, we feel like toys and prisoners of their capricious appearances. The good news is that we don't have to suffer from this situation, that there are ways and lifestyles that allow us to tame them and sometimes recognize them as precious friends. Let me explain to you.

Buddhism, which we will call as such for lack of anything better, has developed three vehicles: the first, the Theravada or vehicle of the ancients, corresponds to the original teaching of Gautama Buddha; the second, the Mahayana or great vehicle, emphasizes compassion, and the third, the Tantrayana or esoteric vehicle, uses many symbols and incantations. These three vehicles offer a clear response to any form of emotion.

From the perspective of the original teachings, emotion is perceived as a poison, an obstacle, an obstacle that should be circumvented or rid of. The practice is therefore that of antidotes: in the face of anger, the practitioner will cultivate a peaceful mind in order to appease the inner fire, he will seek the freshness of concentration on the breath, will promote attention to the body and the return to reality. . Everything will be implemented to appease the mind and the body prey to the disorderly movements of the passions. This very useful practice aims to overcome the three poisons, which are at the heart of the mechanism of illusion.

In the great vehicle, the being in the grip of emotion is considered as a suffering being who must be loved: thus anger will be recognized as such and loved, embraced, cajoled, comforted as a mother would console her sick child. . The practitioner then takes the face of Kannon or Jizo. Another very eloquent image would be that of the grandfather quietly seated on the bench watching the children fighting, screaming and crying in the sandbox: he is neither disturbed nor disturbed by their noises, his loving gaze embraces them and understand them. His benevolence is ready for action if necessary, but the choice is neither to judge nor to condemn and even less to exasperate. The injunction which consists in sitting Zen to let the thoughts pass like clouds in the sky corresponds to this practice which neither judges nor gauges.

In the third approach, specific to the third vehicle, emotion is cultivated and contemplated for what it is: a veil without substance, an appearance without its own reality. It is necessary to dive into its heart in order to communicate with the fantastic energy which it conceals and which is in no way negative. At the heart of anger, a vibrant dynamism that the practitioner can mobilize and make dance in space. Tantrayana invites the practitioner to create from these poisons, rage or sadness; the whole palette of emotions becomes a source of inspiration so that the practitioner draws from this emotional field all the energy and material necessary to create and generate. Artists are often involved in this latter lifestyle and in the alchemical process of transforming negative emotions.

Invitation cards

Concretely what does this mean? Let's take a very common and widespread emotion: anger. And let's follow three distinct and different approaches overlapping the breath to tame this emotion.

In the first style, after having stabilized yourself physically, with your spine straight, your shoulders relaxed, your gaze slightly open, not fixing anything in particular, but floating in front of you, you inhale deeply and imagine that with the air rushing in in the lungs, a peace fills you. On the exhale, you imagine that the air coming out is ridding you of anger and aggression. Gradually, by following the natural breathing rhythm and visualizing the peace that invades you and the violence that leaves you, you pacify your mind.

The main thing is not to let yourself be carried away by the movement of emotions. And it is also to recognize in these movements of the heart not unwanted guests, but real sources of inspiration and practice.

In the second style, you visualize your anger and its object, and instead of simply yielding to it or resisting it, without wanting to deny it let alone chase it away, you use the inhale and the exhale to embrace it and console her. Each respiratory movement is for you the occasion of a benevolent and loving movement towards him. You take care of her and thus calm her aggressiveness.

The third style, on the other hand, takes a completely surprising approach: you visualize this anger in front of you, you breathe it in and accept it deep within yourself; on the exhale, you radiate benevolence and peace. Further, you imagine the anger of others, that of the whole world and, following the inspiration, you invite it into you, once the expiration has begun, to radiate a loving and peaceful spirit. This practice which is one of the phases of the Tibetan practice "tonglen" allows us to dissolve the limit between me and the others, and to penetrate the heart of the true transformation of darkness into light, from defilement into pure joy. .

Which to use? It depends on circumstances and emotions, I gladly use all three. Here again, the main thing is not to let yourself be led astray by the movement of emotions and consider it as uncontrollable and ineluctable. It is also to recognize in these movements of the heart not unwanted guests, but real sources of inspiration and practice.

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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