Sunday, June 29, 2008

Probably Not the Best Example of Loving Kindness

I called somebody a "stupid fucking asshole" on the way to yoga class this morning...there in the middle of the street--him in his car that had careened in front of me, shaking with indignation, yelling, acting like he was gonna run into me on purpose, though I'd had the right of, women, and children standing passively at the bus stop on the corner as I unleashed my invective, yoga mat slung over one shoulder.

Probably not the best example of loving kindness. Then, that well of rage, so easily tapped, might have something do with why I go to yoga class in the first place.

Joe Strummer sang

Let fury have the hour
Anger can be power
Know that you can use it

And that's true, up to a point, even if the number of oppressive regimes overthrown by punk rock seems to be securely locked at zero. I've been known to rage against people with positive attitudes, though it's generally only those who desperately want to have positive attitudes that are the problem; y'know, people who say "keep your bullshit negative attitudes away from me," without the least hint of irony. Smiling organic types who, if you're suffering, will tell you it's just your own bad karma, all your own fault for putting out negative energy--as if anything could be more negative than substituting rejection and judgement for kindness and empathy. Then, who knows, maybe all those people in Darfur need is just a good New Age seminar.

An American Tibetan Buddhist nun named Pema Chodron (yeah, I’m at least as dubious as you are about Westerners who become Buddhist nuns and change their names, though, as far as I know, she didn't drop nearly as much acid as Richard Alpert did before he became Ram Dass) (not that there’d be anything wrong with that if she had) wrote this about a Zen teacher named Bernard Glassman who works with the homeless: “he feels that moving into the areas of society that he had rejected is the same as working with the parts of himself that he had rejected.” Could it be that all self-righteousness is, in essence, a refusal to accept what we see in the mirror?


JR said...

It says a lot that you didn't call somebody a "stupid fucking asshole" after you left your yoga class.

Ian France said...

It's quite ironic (and really funny) that you actually called someone a "stupid f**king asshole on the way to a supposedly peaceful and relaxing yoga class. The second I read the first sentence it gave me a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Wow. First, thank you for sending me this link. It embodies the kind of concise poignancy that I admire in your posts. That being said as a sort of disclaimer for the following verboseness...

1. I feel you on the American Buddhist thing, but I made an exception long ago for a professor I had that we called "Buddha Bob." If you read a lot on the subject, which it seems that you have, you might know the name Robert Thurman. If not, then please do read up on him. I initially took his class as filler, but left a changed person. It's truly rare to encounter people so brilliant that you recognize their importance whilst they still breathe.

2. Yes. I do think that self-righteousness is a manifestation of what we see in the mirror. Definitely. I think that the highly intelligent folk, like ourselves, that devote a considerable amount of life on self-reflection and personal growth realize this already. The bigger question is: Now that I know that my problems stem from the issues I have with myself, how do I channel them elsewhere than outward displacement and judgement?

From what I know of yoga, I feel like it tries to help get people to that point.

MYM said...

I feel your conflict.

Hey, at least we admit it.

Christa said...

OMG - I think you are hysterical.

I nearly peed in my pants when I read "I called somebody a "stupid fucking asshole" on the way to yoga class this morning".

You are my kinda yogi. Very real but on the path, mostly.

I am making a spot for you on my blogroll this instant. I can't miss another post!

Namaste and shit like that!

Gerry Hatrić said...

I used to rage like this until one day on the way home from the cinema with my wife and little girl I flashed my lights at some idiot who cut me up. He promptly slammed on the brakes and two burly looking chaps leapt out of the car. I managed to drive past them post haste but they chased my all the way to my neighbourhood. I eventually stopped outside a friend's place and blew the horn (hooted). The friend came out and the other car drove aware with the chaps leaning out of the window educating us on profanities we'd only heard in movies before.

Since then I have adopted a more laisser faire approach to such things.

Me-Me King said...

OMG! I must admit, I've done the same thing. I guess we misplaced the Zen of our circumstances...oh, well, better luck next time!

Anonymous said...

Been there, but did not put it into perspective the way you have. Nice.

Jane Doe said...

I've heard that people are most enraged at flaws in others that they exhibit themselves. I think that this is very true. Anytime I become angry over someone else's flaw, I try to remember to look at myself and ask, "Is this something I do?" It makes judging people a bit more difficult when you see the same thing in yourself.

light white said...