First, control the speech, then it’s easier to control the anger that drives it

Dec 4, 2023

 

QUESTION

Dearest Robina,

 

I’ve learnt a hard lesson this week and have been quite shaken by it. I got really hurt by somebody.

 

I am trying very hard not to listen to the victim mentality that’s upset by this, and I am also trying very hard not to be angry, but I feel really hurt and upset. It’s painful, and I am a bit in shock still. My I is wounded, shaken, and I can’t stop crying! But I think this situation has triggered a lot of suppressed emotion, because amidst the tears and pain, I can see how it’s an emotional overreaction, albeit too strong just now to get control of.

 

This person has reinforced for me the importance of equanimity, controlling one’s body, speech, and mind, how poisonous anger is and how it blinds us, and the importance of refuge in the buddhas and the teachings and how precious they are.

 

It’s also reinforced (again) how much I am at the whim of other people’s emotions, words, and actions, and as usual how fragile my I is. I am making progress, in that this incident aside, recently I have been able to gain my composure quicker by applying the correct thinking to counteract anger. I have more work to do but that’s okay.

 

Much love,

D

 

ANSWER

Good to hear from you, dear D!

 

It’s good to talk about your “I” being wounded. But it’s better to be more precise and identify which delusions, exactly, are causing the suffering.

 

Attachment is the basis of all of them, but they can be quite specific.

 

If you’re feeling offended and insulted, then pride is the problem.

 

If attachment simply didn’t get what it wanted and anger arose, that’s pretty clear.

 

Is it attachment to being loved and approved of, being seen and heard?

 

Otherwise, good reflections!

 

QUESTION

Dearest Robina,

 

Frustratingly, it’s the same one as always: the craving for praise and not wanting criticism, the I feeling wounded and hurt is because of not being seen, heard, understood, accepted, or validated.

 

Praise and criticism is really hard to get past emotionally, it’s an instinctive response. I need to work on increased awareness, I think, concentration meditation. I need to work on implementing more of a pause before responding to anything someone says or does.

 

I probably need to disengage or not engage in speaking at all depending on the situation. Not entering into challenging situations when I’m not feeling 100%, as I’m less in control of myself, and more reactive.

 

Much love,

D

 

ANSWER

This is why we need to focus very specifically on the first scope of practice, which is to control the body and the speech.

 

We don’t even think of it as a specific practice in the West. But it’s huge.

 

In the four opponent powers purification at the end of the day, regret the uncontrolled speech and when you do the fourth step determine to keep the mouth shut. Then in the morning, remember your promise to yourself and again promise to keep the mouth shut.

 

Not control the anger, no — to keep the mouth shut.

 

We tend to assume the anger in the mind and the angry speech are one activity, but they’re different. 

 

When we get this, it’s a revelation. 

 

QUESTION

Dearest Robina,

 

I have both anger in my mind and when it gets out of my control then I can’t control speaking out my thoughts. I can control it so it’s not really abusive or violent but that’s not enough, I need to be able to keep my mouth shut completely. I will work on this as you say. Thank you.

 

Much love,

D

 

ANSWER

Of course it’s in the mind! It wouldn’t come out of the mouth otherwise!

 

The practice is to control the speech. It’s a huge one.

 

Then it’s easier to control the mind.

 

That’s why it comes in the first scope of the lamrim: entry level, junior school, grade one: control the servants of the mind – the body and speech.

 

Then controlling the mind gets dealt with in the second scope.

 

QUESTION

Dearest Robina,

 

Thank you very much, that is so helpful.

 

Much love,

D

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