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Excerpted from Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner. Copyright © 2007 by Brad Warner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Meditation is all about understanding the state you're in here and now."

  Brad Warner,
Sit Down and Shut Up, Part 3

In a little book called Shobogenzo Zuimonki, which compiles a bunch of Dogen's short talks as recorded by one of his closest students, Dogen puts it this way: "It is not good to overwhelm another person with argument even when he is wrong and you are right. Yet it is also not right to give up too easily, saying, I am wrong,' when you have every reason to believe you are right. The best way is to drop the argument naturally, without pressing the other person or falsely admitting that you are wrong. If you don't listen to his arguments and don't let them bother you, he will do the same and not become angry. This is something to watch carefully."

That's pretty straightforward advice, I think. But we can go a bit deeper. The next step is to see anger for what it really is. And that's the tough part.

See, if anger isn't some substance that gets bottled up inside us, what is it?

Since meditation is all about understanding the state you're in here and now, and since I was often consumed with black rage as I sat on my black cushion, I've often focused my attention during zazen practice on understanding the real source of anger. It took a long time for me to see anger for what it was, and when I did, I was truly shocked.

See, I always used to believe that anger was somehow something apart from myself, that "I" experienced "my" anger. But as my practice deepened, it began to dawn on me that this was not the case at all. It wasn't that I could eradicate those things about myself I'd labeled as negative qualities while leaving the good stuff intact, like cutting off the rotten parts of a carrot left in the fridge too long and cooking the rest. The source of anger, hate, fear, and all the rest of it was the same as the source of that collection of ideas and habits I had mistakenly called "me" for most of my life. To end anger once and for all, I had to die completely. Not commit suicide but something much, much more difficult.

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