Today is Sunday, December 3 2023. And before I get into my teisho, I want to address something that's on a lot of people's minds, I think. And that's
Sangha member, Barry Keesan, who's right now in the ICU in the neuro ICU at Strong Memorial Hospital, and has been an intubation for quite some time.
dedicating another chanting service to Barry, we've done two so far. And
anybody who wants to send a card or anything, talk to me or to Truman, and we can sort of point you in the right direction. And they're very is able to hear, and they've been communicating a lot to him, including playing our chanting. Hopefully that's helping. But each of us is incredibly fragile. And we forget until it's right there in front of us. The Buddha had a teaching in which he said, some people understand the reality of death, when they hear of someone dying in a distant village. For others, it's when they die, someone dies in their own village, or in their own family, or when they themselves are about to die. Buddha said something else, he said. For those who remember death, quarrels cease. We're all in this together. So one it's really one Sangha the broadest the broadest definition
but it doesn't always feel that way. And that's what my teisho is about. I want to talk about outrage, resentment, except acceptance, and forgiveness. And I'm gonna I'm going to read first from an article entitled The joy of outrage what could be more fun
I, I was once a painting contractor in a previous life, and was doing a job that was being sort of managed by the decorator and hadn't worked a lot with decorators. Don't recommend it. Although we have a Sangha member who's fine decorator has helped us out quite a bit. Anyway. Some dispute came up. Door was painted away. She didn't like or something I can't remember what it was. And, you know, we sort of started to get into it. And she just grew in size. It was the most amazing thing. She just got into it. It was I had to step back to see someone she was she was ready to go. I said, okay, okay. Route rage worked on me. But we were all familiar with outrage not working. And that seems to be where this country is at right now. So this is an article it's not that recent. Well, it's four years, little over four years old, from 2019. It was published in the Richmond times dispatch. Editorial, and it goes like this. It was a time when quote, angry words were about the only kind anyone cared to use. When people quote seemed tired of the reasoning process. Instead of trying to convert one's opponents. It was simply readjusted denounce them. No matter what unmeasured denunciation might lead to problems quote. We're slipping beyond the hope of even solution, sectional amenities, economic antagonisms, varying interpretations of the American Dream, the tragic unendurable race problem itself. That's a fair description of our own time. It comes however, from this hallowed ground, one of historian Bruce cantons books on the American Civil War, first published in 1956. Some are quick to say we're heading towards another such catastrophe. That's melodramatic melodrama being another form of organizing experience that Americans go in for these days to no one's benefit. Still and all indignation, righteous only in the eyes of the individual indulging in it is dividing Americans in ways that should concern us all. ask people why they are so angry, and they will supply you with a ready list of all the terrible things the other side is doing to them. They are encouraged in this practice by the alleged experts on TV night after night. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a hateful one is more likely to get you booked on MSNBC, CNN or Fox and we could ad get you more clicks more traffic online.
Anger is a public academic public epidemic in America says Jean Kim, a psychiatrist who works for the Department of Health and Human Services and teaches at George Washington University. Anger is also addictive. gives us an unhappy high we keep trying to replicate. Like addicts. We chase the next angry Hi.
Two other researchers Jerry Barrett, Jeffrey Berry and Sarah's Sobieraj, who teach at Tufts wrote a book called The outrage industry and said, complex issues are simplified to fit in a tweet, or a headline, and the messages make us feel good even while they make us mad. The simplification creates an illusion that problems are easier to solve than they are, indeed that all problems would be solved if only they whoever they are thought like us.
Recent study in Harvard finds that anger can color people's perceptions, form their decisions, and guide their behavior while they remain angry. Regardless of whether the decisions at hand are related to the source of their anger. Basically, the more time we spend in our outrage and our anger, in our despair, the less present we are, the less solid our decisions become, the more quickly we are to write people off. more irritable we are. When you piss a lot of people off, you run into a lot of this people. It's a it's a it's a vicious circle. They say how do we get out of this mess? There are no 12 Step programs we're aware of? Well, frankly, every single 12 Step problem gets a 1212 step program gets at this stuff. But yeah, there's nothing directed, haters anonymous. And there'd have to be millions of support groups to accommodate the need. For now, as psychotherapists tell their patients to become aware of our responses to the frustrations of everyday existence is itself helpful. There is no quick fix.
To one of our real problems that there is no quick fix. We're impatient. We don't like to sit in those insoluble problems. We don't want to recognize that two warring sides. Both have right on their side. It's an impossible tragic situation. We want to pick one side or the other. Then demonize her opponents. The article finishes with this sentence. One small thing we can do, though, might help. That is to accept the fact that we're all in this together, right, left and even center. And none of us is without blame.
We see this kind of frustration, anger, outrage, not only between left and right in this country, but within the left and within the right. Right now we're seeing the Democrats warring with each other over support of Palestine or Israel. So a lot of demonization that's going on there. We see. The Republicans just recently went through their whole ridiculous speaker war, which led to Kevin McCarthy after he was ousted LBL elbowing another congressman in the hallway, in his kidney, and then that congressmen chasing after him and yelling at him, all while recorder, reporter recorded the whole interaction, which I'm sure you can listen to on Twitter. It's just the whole phenomenon of doubling down. Say something outrageous, you're called on on it, and you just go back there you go right back there. And apparently, this, this plays to packed houses. It's really going to be interesting to see how everything plays out. And there are a lot of people who think they know. And they don't. I read an article recently, just in the I think it was in the New York Times, just saying, you know, here comes fascism, there's no way around it. And I see others saying, you know, the American people have a lot of common sense. Look at the last every election since 2016. You see a lot of people are really fed up with the manufacture of hatred.
But everybody, whether they feel they have a lot of hatred or not, is writing off their opponents. Think of Hillary Clinton referring to the basket of deplorables, how badly that played. And then it just gets worse from there.
But what does it do when we buy into this kind of anger? Number one, it doesn't change anybody's mind. In fact, it hardens opposition. Maybe it makes us feel a little better, and maybe it does make them feel bad. But the real damage that we do, the damage is to the hater. And I want to read a story. This is something that happened in the NBA, my favorite league Favorite pro league in the National Basketball Association in 1979. It was referred to as the punch. And this is an article that was published in the Houston Chronicle involve two players, Rudy Tom Janowicz, who played for Houston, and Kermit Washington who was a Los Angeles Lakers, and it happened in the game. And here's how it goes. No one knew the extent of the damage, not even Rudy Tom Janowicz himself, not in that horrible split second, when everything changed. Everyone understood Tom Janowicz was badly injured. That much was obvious. But it was impossible to understand how that December 9 1977 moment changed his life and could have ended it. Tom Janowicz had rushed toward the start of a fight, though with no intention of joining it. Lakers forward Kermit Washington turned away from Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Kevin connard to see Tom Janowicz approaching. Washington fired out of Hard right hand, landing it just to the right of Tangen-roshi Tom Janowicz his nose. I was the first guy to him after that punch. Former rockets teammate Mike Nuland said, I watched the blood spurting after every heartbeat like a public fountain. If you go to a public fountain like in Portland and the water just geysers out, that's how it was. Tom Janowicz thought his nose was broken but that he would return to the game. He also noticed a bitter taste in his mouth. His face was broken in four places. The taste he was told at the hospital with spinal fluid leaking from his brain, threatening his survival
I remember it, I remember it like it was yesterday said Calvin Murphy Janowicz, his longtime friend and teammate, and I spent enough time on the witness stand and the court trial. From the time he was hit, and he went down. I knew there was a major problem, not just the guy getting punched, getting up and fighting back. But when he got hit, I knew he was hurt. But I didn't know the extent what we later found out about reconstruction of his teeth, and I ducked. That was the scariest time of my career watching that happen to Rudy. Janowicz, who was very well liked player and coming to Washington was light as well.
Little more about it, though. Skip ahead here. Washington was suspended for a record 60 days and fined $100,000 Janowicz made his way all the way back, becoming an all star for the fifth time. And then later he coached the rockets to back to back championships and the United States to Olympic gold. And now he's in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, becoming recognized and celebrated for much more than his part in the most violent episode in NBA history.
Says I did get tired of that for years. They said he's kind of familiar. And I'd say yeah, I'm the guy that got punched. And they'd say, Oh, yeah, I remember that. That was my identity. Tom Janowicz would not let the incident and there he needed to forgive Washington. Not for the sake of the player who threw the punch. But for himself. It healed in every apparent way. It reached the pinnacle of his profession, but he had to purge himself with a bitterness. It's clear to him as the taste of spinal fluid he will never forget. I learned something Tom Janowicz said it's a valuable lesson. resentment and anger is a weird thing. It's like drinking poison, hoping somebody else feels the effect. The truth is you feel the effect. You put the negative stuff in your own mind and body. To save myself, I had to do that I had to move on. I didn't want to be known as a victim and take on that role.
Somebody once said, it's like dropping a grenade in your own body to blow someone else up.
Of course it's more in the article, but I think we'll leave it there.
It's incredibly powerful. Making the decision to forgive. And it's more powerful. When we have every reason to remain angry. Justified Anger is the most dangerous thing on earth. It's very hard to let go of it. It's very hard to say what happened happened. I'm okay with it. But when we can do that, there's amazing change that happens. Have to try it to really believe it. I think there's some words of the Buddha in the Dhammapada This is really radical. He says How will hate leave him. If a man forever thinks he abused me. He hit me. He defeated me. He robbed me. Will hate ever touch him. If he does not think he abused me. He hit me. He defeated me. He robbed me There is only one eternal law. Hate never destroys hate, only love does. The Buddha also said holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned.
I, well, back a year or two ago read a book by an author named Robert Sapolsky called Why zebras don't get ulcers. Very good book, I recommend it. Why don't zebras get ulcers? And why do humans get ulcers? Well, the answer is that zebras have stress just like we do. And the whole reason that evolution has devised the system. The stress response is to get us out of dicey situations. If you're about to be disemboweled by a lion, you need to send all your blood to the right place, you need to tune everything way up. And you need to run through your life. And a zebra does that and it either gets killed or it survives. And their stress response dies down and it returns to homeostasis.
But for us, stress response kicks up, and it can continue unabated. And so we have a situation today where Oh, you know, over 100 years ago, the most common the most common cause of death was death in childbirth. So just the women all by themselves are number one. Today, the most common causes of death, are all related to the stress response, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, even depression. All of those are brought on through this unending stress response that people fall into the amygdala, the center of fear enlarges the hippocampus, neuronal connections in the hippocampus weaken under prolonged stress. And that damages long term memory.
It just doesn't pay to be a type A personality.
Since that whole cascade of physical responses, there is just what it does to our relationship to others. We're cut off from so many people. Our immediate response when we see certain people is to label them
he's woke, he's cisgender. He's a communist. He's an anarchist.
You see people and you know in America, you can often see which tribe they belong to. They don't necessarily need to have a red hat to be able to suss it out. And immediately, it's really hard to take them in. Which is what we have to do. It's what we do in our Zen practice. We need to take everything in. It's very hard to do we want to wall things off. Don't feel safe unless we do. We want to wall off bad things happening. It's very hard for someone to say, I'll accept anything that happens. It's very hard to say. Thank you very much. I have no complaints whatsoever. Because we're worried about what will happen. And we have this magical thinking that if I just go No no, no, I don't like that. That that'll ward it off. We have no idea what life has in store for us. How our karma will play out
when of Bodhidharma is first teachings was the teaching to suffer injustice. He says in past lives. We've done so much that will bring us pain and bring us out For him, we have no way of knowing when that will mature when that will come out. When it does, our job is to work with it to accept it. Certainly we want to take care of ourselves, but to complain and to blame. It's going in the wrong direction
things are the way they are. Right now, for us. For everyone, it's like this
There's a passage in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Read before might be a good idea to read it every month. This is a part of the book where various people who've gained sobriety write about their, their journey. And this guy says, acceptance is the answer to all my problems today, when I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place thing or situation, some fact of my life, unacceptable to me. And I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. nothing absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. If you don't like the word God, we can say in this world of cause and effect until I could, until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober. Unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world, as in what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes. Called sweeping your own side of the street. He goes on Shakespeare said All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, he forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out. Because I knew you wanted perfection just as I did. A and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us, and a bit of bad in the best of us that we are all children of God. And we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you. I'm complaining about God's handiwork. I'm saying I know better than God.
If we can accept things as they are, we have a chance to have empathy for others which diffuses so much. Henry Wadsworth long fellow said I can find the quote.
We would read The Secret History of our enemies we would find in each man's life, a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
practices to take it all in
the Thai Forest teacher, meditation teacher John semedo said, awareness is your refuge. Awareness of the changing pneus of feelings of attitudes of moods of material change and emotional change. Stay with that. Because it's a refuge that is indestructible. It's not something that changes and it's awareness. It's a refuge you can trust him. This refuge is not something that you create. It's not a creation. It's not an ideal. It's very practical and very simple, but easily over Look, you're not noticed, when you're mindful, you're beginning to notice. It's like this
just for starters to know when you're angry, I talked about this a lot. But when anger really sweeps over you, you don't even know what's going on in your body. Hardest pounding, face is flushing. You just focused on the injustice. So a whole flood of emotion most people here have heard the teaching that those kinds of emotional reactions, if left alone will abate in about 90 seconds. heart's pounding and then slowly we settled down and we're back to homeostasis are back to balance. But if you start stirring that pot up, start thinking of all the reasons that you have to be angry if you start looking for the justifications for everything you did, and you just start that whole mental battle, then that can go on and on and on.
Awareness is our refuge. We say I take refuge in Buddha, what is Buddha? Buddha is awareness. Nothing other than awareness.
There are some things that happen that were going to take us a long time to work through. And there's a guy at the University of Wisconsin named Robert Enright who studied forgiveness for I don't know how many years, a couple of decades at least
you wrote a book called forgiveness is a choice. And it's kinda it's a 20 step program. But thankfully for us, it can be simplified. And this article which is on the website international forgiveness.com.
goes through the goes through the steps. And the first phase is called uncovering one's anger, the uncovering phase, it says during this phase, the individual becomes aware of the emotional pain that is resulted from a deep unjust injury. Characteristic feelings of anger or even hatred may be present. As these negative emotions are confronted, and the injury is honestly understood, individuals may experience considerable emotional distress. It's very hard to look at something terrible that's happened to you something that may have caused real trauma. It says deciding on the appropriate amount of energy to process this pain, while still functioning effectively is an important consideration during this phase. In other words, you can't just bring it all out immediately. It's just it's just too much. It's just too hard. We all have the ability to take on a certain amount of damage. And as we practice, that amount gets bigger and bigger. Joko betch back refers to it as a bigger container, ABC. But all of us have a limit. There's a place where we all decompensate so you have to work carefully. It takes a long time. It's a journey. But as they say, as the anger and other negative emotions are brought out into the open, healing can begin to occur. The next step is the decision phase. The individual now realizes that to continue to focus on the injury and the injure may cause more unnecessary suffering, and begins to understand that a change must occur to go ahead in the healing process. This person may then experience a heart conversion, or in other words, a life change in a positive direction. The individual entertains the idea of for given us as a healing strategy, and then commits to forgiving the injure who has caused him or her such pain, of course, is what really Tom Jonathan did.
complete forgiveness is not yet realized. But the injured individual has decided to explore forgiveness, and to take initial steps in the direction of full forgiveness. An important first step at this point is to forgo any thoughts, feelings or intentions of revenge toward the injurer. obvious but hard to do. Nursing those feelings of revenge is the unskillful way that we try to make ourselves feel better.
Third phase they call the work phase. Here the forgiving individual begins the active work of forgiving the injurer. This phase may include new ways of thinking about the injure, the injured individual may strive to understand the injures childhood or put the injurious event in context by understanding the pressures, the injurer was under at the time of the offense.
Exactly what Longfellow was saying. This new way of thinking is not is undertaken not to excuse the injure of his or her responsibility for the offence, but rather to better understand him or her and see the injure as a member of the human community. Often, this new understanding may be accompanied by a willingness to experience empathy and compassion toward the offender. It's also something that happened with Rooney Tom Janowicz, just realizing how disastrous the whole incident had been for permanent Washington, whose career never really recovered the way Rudy's did.
This work phase of actually willing to experience empathy and compassion also includes the heart of forgiveness, which is the acceptance of the pain that resulted from the actions of the injure. This is not to be confused with any sense of deserving the pain, but rather of bearing the pain that has been unjustly given. As the individual bears the pain he or she chooses not to pass it on to others, including the insurer. This is often where the challenge of a quest for the good is most evident. Indeed, the individual and may now become ready to begin to offer goodwill towards the injure in the form of merciful restraint, generosity, and moral love. And this happens remembering that shooting that happened in a church down south thinks the shooter was somebody named Dylann Roof, if I remember correctly. People in that church who survived, said they forgave him. It's inspiring people of any faith can really put it into practice. He says his article says this may or may not include reconciliation. The Goodwill may be offered while at the same time taking into consideration current issues of trust and safety in the relationship between the individual and the injurer. And then the fourth, the simplified process is outcome slash deepening phase. In this phase, the forgiving individual begins to realize that he or she is gaining emotional relief from the process of forgiving his or her injure. The forgiving individual may find meaning in the suffering that he or she has faced. motional relief and newfound meaning may lead to increased compassion for self and others. The individual may discover a new purpose in life and an act of concern for his or her community. Thus, the Forgiver discovers the paradox of forgiveness. As we give to others the gifts of Mercy generosity and moral love, we ourselves are healed.
Up Prayer. I think in Thailand, may I be given the appropriate obstacles in order that I may grow OUI OUI OUI when we meet people who have suffered, really suffered and been able to come through it, been able to accept it been able to forgive, we feel a difference. The grown up just just their presence is helpful. All of us aspire to be such people to get beyond simple self protection to open our eyes to the mistakes that we make
we can't determine which direction the world is going to go in.
None of us none of us has that power. But all of us can be a force for good and all of us can find the refuge of awareness and acceptance.
All right, time is up. We'll stop and recite the Four Vows