“If the inner mind is tamed. The outer enemy cannot harm me.”
(As ever, these are just passing thoughts and sharing my experiences, and I make no claim for their being anything more than that.)
Anger, like any other thought or feeling, has no true existence – not even a definitive location in your body, speech, or mind. It is just like wind roaring in empty space.
~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
We feel a reaction and are sometimes mired in reactive thoughts/feelings that will not desist. They go on and on and can be exhausting.
These thoughts or feelings seem to come from different ”selves”.
There is the part that reacts viscerally, feels wounded for example, wants to enact vengeance or guilt or self-punishment, or some such limited emotion. Thoughts swirl accordingly. Let’s call that our ”every day self.”
Then there is the part of us that produces swirling thoughts about how we should react. How we aught to react if we were a ”better” person, more enlightened. Let us call this part the ”inauthentic, goody-goody.”
Then there is the peaceful substratum which is unaffected. truly. We know it is there if we are honest. It might only put in an appearance for micro-seconds of bliss every now and then, but we know it. The part that with full knowledge of impermanence is unaffected by any trip in this world, and remains – dare we admit it! – essentially and truly happy and at peace all the time. Let us call this self ”The Witness.”
There are other in-between layers, doing various degrees of the above, but for simplification, let’s keep it at these three.
And then let’s leave out the middle layer, that aught to/should/must layer that tries so hard to be good. Because, boy, is that part a bore.
And now that it is simple we can see clearly there is a gap between the reactive every day self and the witness. The swirling invasive thoughts and feelings seem to block that resting self’s natural expression and create a troublesome gap.
Bridging the gap between the reactive layer and the Witness is called Practice.
It is what we do again and again, gently, until the reactive layer dwindles.
And practice is exactly what the word suggests it is…not something we do once or twice, or the odd time when we are feeling saintly, but something we plod along with and do regularly.
Simple Definition of practice
: to do something again and again in order to become better at it
: to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life
: to live according to the customs and teachings of (a religion).
How do we practice?
There are different methods depending on personality, mood, the thing that happened to cause the reaction.
There is the devotional practice where we offer it up in surrender to a Higher Force whose aid we seek within, again and again.
There is work, consuming activity, by means of which we physically expend the charge of the reactive self.
There is enquiry where we cognitively analyse the reactive self and investigate the swirl of thoughts/feelings.
There is meditation and deeper enquiry into the true nature of self – Who Am I? – which makes reactive self fade gradually.
There are even tantric methods to explode the reactive self by means of energy techniques.
Usually there is some combination of practices.
Again and again, facing the storm with awareness. Bridging the gap between selves.
To have arrived at the place where consciousness and awareness is there in the first place, where we are cognisant of the gap, is a good thing in itself. After that, it’s just practice, practice, practice….