one act in anger
lifetimes of merit fade – flames
devour the land
As Pema Chodron said (more or less)
“All these years of practice, same shitty old mind”
It’s said that Samsara, the endless cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death, is subtle, grinding and pervasive. And so it is. Recently, I had the “opportunity” to look directly at my own root klesha, that of anger (kleshas are the habitual behaviors that keep us stuck in Samsara, lifetime after lifetime –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleshas_(Buddhism).) On a recent trip with my wife and dear friends, I got triggered and without thinking acted out of irritation and anger. In addition to directly harming someone most dear to me, I could instantly feel whatever merit I may have accumulated in years of meditation practice completely drain away.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, “merit” is said to be accumulated through practice and is essential as fuel for further practice on the path to awakening (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merit_(Buddhism)
It’s also said that a single act of anger can destroy lifetimes of merit. And so it felt.
Actions cannot be undone, only addressed by subsequent action. We practice, we stumble, we get up again and resolve to do better. Perhaps, with grace, to soften the karma of this earlier action. And so it goes,
around and around and around…
Two poems then, the haiku above and the poem below, speaking to the experience of action and remorse – may they be of benefit
anger, rising like a flame, brief yellow, white hot and she’s hurt
this girl you’ve always loved completely. thoughtless, you’ve burned her to white bone.
actions refuse to be undone. whatever merit you’ve gathered turns to dust, blows away on the icy winds of hell.
dedicate whatever days remain to her. breathe only love and loving kindness. you will fail
but at least you will try.
prostate and purify collect mantra like dreams offer incense, the tendrils of smoke rising into heaven. your hair
beginning to burn.
Thank you for this amazing poem. You are that phoenix rising … emerging more loving, more aware, inwardly stronger because of this mea culpa. Not everyone can do this. I know all too well. Forgiveness douses the “icy winds of hell”.