Difficult emotions, I got recently, from one situation with someone in a position of power. Fear, anger, sadness, disappointment, outrage, a full bag of difficult emotions opened, for me to investigate. After I had a conversation with that person, and I realized I was going nowhere in terms of trying to change the outer circumstances, wise mind came to the rescue. I remembered Venerable Madika's talk. "Drop your story. Remember, no one can make you angry." As I started looking into the story I had been constructing about that person, that particular situation, I realized there were parts of the story I was not so sure about actually. Was I justified in my claims? What if I was the one who was out of line? Back and forth, I went. In the end, the jury leaned in my favor . . . The story has been playing over and over inside my head, til now.
While dropping one's story seems like the right thing to do in principle, the reality shows it is not so easy. Expectations, 'I' driven thoughts, old wounds in need of some more licking, personal baggage not yet let go of, all conspire to give the story free rein. Meanwhile, one is left with the bag of emotions to hold, and the strategic question of what to do with all that energy, all those thoughts and feelings?
Most useful has been to engage in metta practice, for the other person, and for myself. Seeing him as someone with his own wounds and limitations, and remembering all the good that has come out of our relationship also. I have got blinders, and so does he. That his happen to affect me in a major way is just a product of circumstances. It has nothing to do with me really. Silently, I repeat, "May he be well, may he be at ease, may he be at peace, may he be happy", and I imagine love pouring out of my heart in his direction. And I do the same for myself. Loving kindness, such powerful stuff
. . .
Second, has been the realization of the damage done to my own mind, from hanging on to negative thoughts and emotions. Guarding the mind
, like one's most precious jewel, I can see the real reason for dropping the story, regardless. In the end, it is all about keeping one's house clean, and free of filth. Forgetting about the object of one's misery, and refusing to indulge the misery itself. Polishing the mind over and over again, with warm determination.
Third, is appreciating the teaching opportunity from such experience. Like a bright mirror, situation has forced me to explore my own imperfections, the places of stuckness that keep coming up along my path. In the midst of all the unpleasantness, I walk, with gentle curiosity, taking a close look at my sores. Investigating the real source of my suffering, with the full knowledge that in the end, the problem lies within myself. Of course . . .
Fourth, is turning the anger on its head, and transforming it into the positive force I very much need to deal with the particular situation. Taking matters in my own hands. This requires the conscious decision of no longer reacting when provoked. Instead, registering the emotions, feeling the immensity of the energy being released, and enlisting it towards creative ends. I have a plan, and it's working.
Venerable Madika is right, the story needs to be dropped, but not so fast. There is much to be learned from the suffering, still.
Now, tell me, any story you need to drop?