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Anger (Sneaky) part 2

In part one of a more detailed talk on anger, Bodhinatha shares with us the effectiveness of some advice he recently gave to someone about the effect of angry episodes on the accumulated power of sadhana. He reviews the eight steps on the ladder of anger and dives into the first rung on the ladder in detail, "sneaky anger."

Unedited Transcript:

After I gave that talk last phase, I came across some advise on e-mail and a

response. A devotee had written back to some advise that I had given a few

months ago, on expressing anger toward a parent. The problem is that

occasionally, the devotee flares up when the parent says something, kind of

breaks out in anger and angry words on a regular basis, not everyday but at

least every week. Something is said that pushes a button, so to speak and

out come the angry words.

So the devotee wrote in for some advise, a few months ago. When I reread

the advise I gave, I said, "Gee, this is good. It should have gone in the

'Anger Management' talk. So we will add it for future versions." This was

the advise.

"Thank you for sharing the details regarding your sometimes angry encounters

with you parent. I would suggest, you reflect on the seriousness of

inharmony in the home. It is taking a few steps backward in spiritual

progress. When you do sadhana, you move forward. But if anger occurs

regularly, you step backward and as a result, you could end up standing

still. It is like trying to save money for a purpose. You save each week.

Then, becoming angry is like spending what you saved the last month. It is

difficult to make the financial goal. Taking it more seriously, you are

motivated to avoid anger at all cost."

Just a few days ago, the devotee e-mailed back and said the advise helped,

it worked. Not getting angry, not expressing angry words toward the parent

anymore. So it showed that realizing how serious it is in terms of one's

spiritual progress is helpful. Some kind of analogy there, such as saving

money, where you realize your sadhana is putting money in a jar that your

anger is taking out. So consequently you are not really making any

progress. If you realize, "Gee, I am not really getting the advantages of

my sadhana. I am earning it but then I am throwing it away. So I am not

making the progress that I should be." Just have to harness that tongue,

harness those angry words and realize how important it is to do so.

Also in our talk last phase, we went through the eight steps on the ladder

of violence. To review, the first one is sneaky anger followed by the cold

shoulder, blaming and shaming, swearing, screaming and yelling, demands and

threats, chasing and holding, partly controlled violence and, last but not

least, blind rage. Most of these are self evident. But to some of us the

first two, it might not be clear as to what it includes. Sneaky anger in

particular and even the cold shoulder. So I thought we could look at those

for a minute. These are taken from the book 'Angry All the Time', that

Gurudeva drew on for his work on 'Anger Management'.

Sneaky anger is the first rung on the ladder of violence. It is a state of

mind something like this. "I am mad at you for something you did to me and I

am going to get back at you and get you really frustrated. But you are not

going to even find out that I am mad at you. I am not going to let you know

that. I am just going to get back at you and you are going to end up

really frustrated. I am going to do that not by doing something but by not

doing things."

So, that is the nature of sneaky anger, very subtle. It is the not doing of

things to frustrate someone else because you are mad at them for something

they did to you. That is sneaky anger.

We have five versions, according to the book, of sneaky anger. We have a

phrase for the first four.

"I forgot". Not doing something under the guise of forgetting. A familiar

youth chore of taking out the garbage. "I forgot to take out the garbage."

How many times have we heard that? How many times is it really true? I am

not talking about the legitimately forgetting sometimes people do, to do a

simple chore. You remembered and you knew very well that you are supposed

to take it out. But, you are going to say when asked why you didn't take it

out - "I forgot to take it out. It slipped my mind." Sneaky anger, one.

Sneaky anger two. The phrase, "Yes ... But". Purposely not doing something

under the guise of an excuse. "It was raining too hard to take out the

garbage". Or, whatever. We come up with a lame excuse as to why we didn't

do it when we are asked. "You wouldn't want me to get wet, catch cold. It

was raining too hard." Note the fact that it only rains for five minutes

and stops! "It was raining too hard." Yes, ... but.

Number three. "I could not figure it out." Purposely not doing something

under the guise of not being smart enough to figure it out. "I could not

figure out whose turn it was to take out the garbage. Just could not

figure it out, there are four of us and I just could not figure out whose

turn it was. So, I didn't do anything."

Number four. "I didn't remember that part." Purposely not doing something

in part under the guise of forgetting that, that part of it was supposed to

be done. "Took out the garbage but forgot to take out the gardening debris,

sorry." As the book says, "The word sorry usually appears in this one. I

just forgot that part, sorry."

The last part of sneaky anger, whining or whispering complaints while

performing the task, is also sneaky anger. Kind of muttering under your

breath, complaining about it but not loud enough so anyone really knows

what you are saying. But clearly, you are disgruntled. You grumble,

grumble, grumble. Complaining under your breath while you do it, is

another form of sneaky anger.

That is interesting! Never would have figured all that out without the book.

But those of you who are parents are probably closer to this than the monks

are. Very interesting, sneaky anger. That is anger expressed not through

doing something but through not doing something, either fully or in part, in

all the different ways you cannot do something.