early morning reading


“When others make us angry at them–at their shamelessness, injustice, inconsideration–they exercise power over us, they proliferate and gnaw at our soul, then anger is like a white-hot poison that corrodes all mild, noble, and balanced feelings and robs us of sleep. Sleepless, we turn on the light and are angry at the anger that has lodged like a succubus who sucks us dry and debilitates us. We are not only furious at the damage, but also that it develops in us all by itself, for while we sit on the edge of the bed with aching temples, the distant catalyst remains untouched by the corrosive force of the anger the eats at us.  On the empty internal stage bathed in the harsh light of mute rage, we perform all by ourselves a drama with shadow figures and shadow words we hurl against enemies in helpless range… And the greater our despair that it is only a shadow play and not a real discussion with the possibility of hurting the other and producing a balance of suffering, the wilder the poisonous shadows dance and haunt us even in the darkest catacombs our dreams. (We will turn the tables, we think grimly, and all night long forge words that will produce in the other the effect of a fire bombs that now he will be the one with the flames of indignation raging inside while we, sooth by schadenfreude, will drink our coffee in cheerful calm.)

What could it mean to deal appropriately with anger?  We really do’t want to be soulless creatures who remain thoroughly indifferent to what they come across, creatures who appraisals consist only of cool, anemic judgments and nothing can shake them up because nothing really bothers them. Therefore, we can’t seriously wish not to know the experience of anger and instead persist in an equanimity that wouldn’t be distinguished from tedious insensibility.  Anger also teaches something about who we are. Therefore this what I ‘d like to know: What can it mean to train ourselves in anger and imagine that we take advance of its knowledge without being addicted to its poison?

We can be sure that we will hold on to the deathbed a part of the last balance sheet–and this part will taste bitter as cyanide–that we have wasted too much, much too much strength and time on getting angry and getting even with other in a helpless shadow theater, which only we, who suffered in impotently, knew anything about. Why did our parents, teachers and other instructors…Not give us in this case any compass that could have helped us avoid wasting our soul on useless, self-destructive anger.” ~Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (pp.377-378)

hungry ghosts


“,,,when we offer food to the hungry ghost, the ceremony always begins with a dharani for the hungry ghost to help increase the size of their throats so that they can receive our offerings. In classical Buddhist literature, hungry ghosts are described as having a big belly but a very tiny throat–so even though they are always very hungry they are never able to take in enough nourishment. There are many kinds of hungry ghosts that need our help to transform their suffering. They are hungry for love and understanding but because they are so suspicious, because their hearts are not open enough, they cannot receive our love and compassion.

“All the hungry ghost bear great injustices in themselves and that is why they have become hungry ghosts. Many of us are victims of injustice, and if there is no compassion and understanding there is no way we can undo the knot of injustice within ourselves and become free. We still continue to suffer if no one can help us undo the knot of injustice in our heart.
“There are so many hungry ghosts in the world. Many of them are caught in their situation and have no opportunity to experience the kind of safe, calm, stable space that will allow them to get in touch with what is nourishing and healing…they will be hungry ghosts all their lives, wandering aimlessly in suffering, destroying themselves physically and mentally.

“Hungry ghosts are drive by the habit energy in themselves. They may want to tear up the new roots, they may not be able to feel peace, they may not be capable of establishing themselves in the here and now. …it is important for us to become aware of the habit energy in ourselves. It is always pushing us to tear up our roots, to play the role of a wandering soul, a hungry ghost. We can become so used to being a hungry ghost that staying in one place becomes very difficult.  So we practice mindful breathing and recognize that the habit energy of being a hungry ghost is still very strong in us.


“All of us who are the friends of the Earth-Store Bodhisattva must pool our ideas and energies to help the many hungry ghosts in our family, community, and society…

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Opening the Heart of the Cosmos

The images within this posting were drawn from the internet and reflect historical representations of hungry ghosts.

an uncertain weekend

Angry in the ultimate dimension

I close my eyes and look deeply

Three hundred years from now

Where will you be and where shall I be?

~Thich Nhat Hanh*


While Thich Nhat Hanh’s words are of anger, I believe they also apply to today’s uncertainty in that “…we are living in the most fear mongering time in human history. And the main reason for this is that there’s a lot of power and money available to individuals and organizations who can perpetrate these fears.”

…where fear is about danger that seems certain; anxiety is…”an experience of uncertainty.”

If there is a crack in human psychology into which demagogues wriggle, it is by offering psychological relief for the anxiety created by uncertainty…this is where a good scapegoat comes in; for example, There’ us — real Americans – then there are…”**

May equanimity fill the minds and hearts of all this holiday season and end this dangerous game of brinkmanship.

*cited: No Death, No Fear, Thich Nhat Hanh

**cited: Why We’re Living in the Age of Fear, Rolling Stone