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Feel the Burn - Burning Up the Seeds of Aggression


           In her book, Practicing Peace in Times of War, Pema Chodron asks the question, Why is it that we all want a peaceful existence, yet our actions or reactions produce just the opposite. We seek peace and happiness by going to war. This can occur personally with those close to us. Or it can happen in the world theater with country against country.

We want to be compassionate and loving to those around us, but many times, we react in anger and with judgmental behavior. Our small self feels injured or betrayed, and we strike back, in a fashion we are accustomed to. The script is written for us according to our karma. The end result of our negative reactions is more suffering, and even more karma. This aggressive human tendency to react in anger may be the root of all wars and suffering.


           Pema Chodron tells us the antidote to anger is patience. When a rude driver yells out his window at you, there is a moment when you have the choice how to react. These moments require patience combined with compassion. fearlessness, and a great deal of energy. She advises us to go cold turkey, watch the anger, don’t suppress it, but also don’t react to it. Pema asked her teacher Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Master, why this moment was so uncomfortable if we don’t give into anger. He said it was the burn, burning up seeds of aggressive behavior. We are burning the seeds of negative karma and planting the seeds of peacefulness.


           We need to learn to soften our hearts. In order to end war, both globally and personally, we must be willing let go of the doctrine of being right and soften the rigidity of our heart, to find solutions that benefit both sides of the conflict. This is why the peace and reconciliation movements were so powerful for South Africa and Ireland.


            Pema counsels that we have endless opportunities to dissolve the seeds of war where they originated in the hearts and minds of individuals like you and me. The Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King was an example. It was based on love, love that excluded no one and, it brought great changes in this country’s culture.


            We find ourselves again in a period of great change. We can help birth positive change by allowing ourselves to think compassionately, not only of those who have suffered great loss, but also those who are engulfed in hatred, revenge or divisive behavior. This is true Bodhisattva action, caring for all sentient beings.


May all Beings Be Happy! 


Namaste, Jamey and Darlene Potter




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