Anger towards enemies
The dialogue between THEOPHILE THE ELDER and THEOPHILE THE YOUNG continues, this time about the topic of anger and reactions to injustice.
That particular morning, Theo the Young was very agitated. He had hardly sat down, facing his friend, than he started exposing his problem.
Theophile the Young: I have been developing intense anger all these years due to a neighbor who has harmed my family and me. I hate him and I can’t help it.
The Elder looked at him, quite amazed.
Y: Yes I know. But it’s all about his wicked, twisted and unfair behavior. I feel as if he is a chewing gum stuck to the sole of my shoe. I can’t get rid of it. As soon as I see him or merely think of him my anger is back.
Theophile the Elder: You are going to make yourself sick!
Y: I’m already sick. My stomach hurts, there are moments when I feel oppressed, and I often have a headache.
Once a warrior has won or lost a war,
he agrees that the war has ended.
He has no more enemy. He is at peace.
He will only have to make himself ready for another battle,
whenever it may come.
Meanwhile, he practices peacefully.
E: According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver Fire is what gives you such symptoms, which are caused by anger and resentment.
But tell me what you did?
Y: I went to court to assess my rights.
E: And what happened then? Did you win that legal fight against your adversary?
Y: Yes, legally, but he did not pay enough for my liking, considering all the harm he had done to me.
E: So the fight is still on! Your neighbor has succeeded in crossing your barriers and he is now partly occupying your inner space. You may also be in his mind, since you won the case against him. He probably hates you. Your anger is what provides access to his anger. Through your mental and emotional attitude, you have opened a way for him to penetrate within you. So now he can overrun you, reach your heart and plague your life.
Y: You make it sound like war!
E: Currently your life is effectively a constant state of war, so you’d better live it as a warrior would.
The book, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, is traditional literature in China, and it is still in use in War Colleges in many countries, since strategy is first and foremost simple psychology. For example, making the adversary’s general angry is a clever trick, as it will destabilize him and confuse his mind. He won’t be able to clearly see the way the battle is developing or to devise sustainable strategies. Being angry, he will tend to just charge ahead and seek revenge at all costs. Therefore, his engagement will have a weakness based on his own self-delusion, boldness and temerity. Some people will call it courage but, in fact, an enemy is more easily defeated once you have provoked anger in them and thus opened a breach.
Y: But I have won.
E: Do you really think so?
The Elder paused while Theo seemed to be thinking the matter over.
E [calmly]: You have not won the emotional and mental war.
Please God, give me the courage
to change the things I can change,
the serenity that will help me accept
the things to which fate binds me,
and enough wisdom to discriminate
one from the other.”
Once a warrior has won or lost a war, he agrees that the war has ended. He has no more enemy. He is at peace. He will only have to make himself ready for another battle, whenever it may come. Meanwhile, he practices peacefully.
The problem comes when your head and emotions go on fighting, cutting you off from your heart. It might be tragic for you and your balance. Basically, your neighbor has shown you the significant weakness that still abides in yourself.
Y [interrupting nervously]: So now you are going to ask me to be very grateful to him I guess.
E [smiling]: That’s almost it! In fact you should thank the Divine who let you see the weakness, the tendency you still have, and who gave you an opportunity to correct it. Your neighbor will become a mere indicator for you. That indicator could have been someone else or several other persons.
The strength of your recurrent emotions is only a sign, a symptom of the weakness within you.
Y [irritated]: But he was proven wrong!
E: So? You won, didn’t you? And justice was done. Then why should you continue the war?
I’m sorry to tell you, but that weakness of yours will be used against you by your enemies or by any other person.
Any serious adversary will easily defeat you.
Y: I don’t think so. I am strong and intelligent enough to know how to defend myself. Next you are going to tell me all about love again, aren’t you.
E: I might.
Isn’t that what we’ve already done on many occasions in the past?
The old man paused again and remained quietly focused on his hotheaded friend. Then he said:
E: The warrior instinct is in you. That is another way to approach the Divine, but it is a demanding one. Arjuna is a good example of it, in the Bhagavad Gita.
But Theo’s anger was not yet soothed.
Y: I’d like to plague his life just as he has plagued mine. That’s a fair return, isn’t it?
The Elder tried to temper him.
E: Let’s keep calm. Some families have carried their hatred through generations. Sometimes they even forget the root cause of the hatred, but their war has become a tradition and the families will hate each other forever.
Y [sulking]: So now you see me as a dunce.
E: [mockingly]: More or less!
Y: Well, do tell me. What would you do in this situation?
E: I would take all necessary action to address it on the purely material level. Then, once it is done, I would forget all about it. Life is great. So it’s really worth living it completely, enjoying all the gifts it offers.
Y: And what of the difficulties, the problems entailed?
E: I would deal with them as best as can be. Marcus Aurelius used to say:
“Please God, give me the courage to change the things I can change,
the serenity that will help me accept the things to which fate binds me,
and enough wisdom to discriminate one from the other.”
Otherwise I am happy under all circumstances – almost all of them anyway.
The old man realized that Theo’s anger was one of the oldest and most enduring forms of anger. So he did not insist anymore and decided to think over all they had been talking about that day.
Before leaving his friend, he said:
E: Theo, an enemy is supposed to be fought on the battlefield. Once the war has ended, he is no longer an enemy. That is sheer chivalry, an art Lord Krishna taught to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Looking very thoughtful, Theo watched the Elder as he walked away after having thus invited his young friend to stay calm and serene.
Dialogues with Theophile the Elder: Theophile the Younger’s Initiation
Article by THEOPHILE L’ANCIEN