Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 27

There are certain truths that I've come to understand this month. Some of them are religious and some of them are not. Today, I want to briefly discuss the non-religious aspect of what I gained from this wonderfully enriching month.

I can be frank here, right? Honestly, I have a lot of work to do on myself. While this month has been trying in terms of personal sacrifice --something that I'll write about tomorrow-- it's been even more revealing insofar that I didn't realize how much my own behavior could affect others. We should all know these things already, but Buddhism has really mapped it out very clearly and concisely. 

While meditating this month, I coasted between deep thought and casual reflection. Both were helpful, but it was only when I drifted into the depths of my mind that I could vividly see a a path; a course on which I could truly detach myself from this earth. As I've said before, throw out the images of hovering around in the north reaches of the troposphere. It's not like that. It's simply a clear and pure moment shared between your mind, body and soul. You can do it yourself. Try.

In one of these deeper trances, I got to see a very clear picture. It was of a simplified life. At first glance, it appeared to be normal by most standards. However, once I took a deeper look, I saw that there were no chains holding me back or obstacles blocking my path to true happiness and peace. As I slowly returned to reality, the message became more clear and it goes something like this.

Anger comes in many forms. It might feel like greed to some and jealousy to others, but it exists in far too many of us. Anger is crafty and has learned to disguise itself. In fact, it's so tricky that sometimes people get angry at themselves for getting angry. Anger originates from the outside our naturally pure minds and manages to seep into our souls and it's that anger which ultimately makes humans unhappy and keeps peace out of touch. 

Buddha said that we all of posses the true nature of Buddhahood within us and I firmly believe that. I know that I was born with the capacity for Buddhahood, just like I think we all were. Regardless of faith, we all know what's right and what's not. It's in there somewhere, but worldly delusion (and especially anger) pollutes the clarity of our minds and shields us from following the path towards peace.

I call the anger that originates from the outside world "fringe anger". This is the anger we feel when a boss agitates us; our better halves get unnecessarily irascible; our political party loses; or a mechanic overestimates the cost of repairs. While each of these things are important to us and some even deserve an emotional response, we must be careful that the emotion that surfaces isn't anger. 

If we allow this "fringe anger" to linger for too long and occupy our minds, it will bleed into our psyche. Once it's in there, it will pollute our cores and become "core anger". If we lose control of our cores (or nature) to anger, then every single time a situation that merits an emotional response occurs, anger will surface. This is not as simple as "don't sweat the small stuff". A person who has lost control of his peaceful nature and is now overwhelmed by "core anger" will not be able to identify what small stuff is. 

There will be times when anger seems to be the best option, but don't let it get mixed in with passion. Just this last week, I was confronted with several political issues that tested me. One in particular was the new immigration law in Arizona which gives police the authority to question anyone whom they suspect is an illegal immigrant. In other words, police can stop and search anyone who looks like the typical 21st century immigrant or, in other words, Hispanics. This is a disgusting law and a bad step for America.

After reading the law, I started to get more angry. How could they do this? Why are we creating so many divisions with such a rich and important part of our culture? I wanted to get angry at someone, but I realized that there was no one for me the yell at. The futility of anger slapped me in the face. And even if there was a member of the GOP in front of me, would getting angry at them work? Would I feel better? And furthermore,  if I did get a boost of happiness or satisfaction simply by yelling at someone, is that a good sign of the health of my spirit?

I can be passionate about changing this law and propping up my Hispanic brothers and sisters in many ways, just like I can handle the frustrations that other people inflict upon each other and myself without allowing anger to boil over. 

Who would you prefer to be?

Remember, if you have no anger inside you, then there is nothing that can surface.


  1. I really appreciated this piece. I needed it and actually, everyone does. I am lucky to have my own family peacemaker now. However, George, as much as you are a passionate political observer, you also have ALWAYS been a soul hoping for everyone to just get along. I admire that about you, always have.

  2. Your essay was definitely a wake up call for me. My cancer diagnosis 3 years ago was another important one. I try not to sweat the small stuff anymore. I thought of John Lennon's "Imagine" when you wrote: "You can do it yourself. Try." Maybe it can become easy if you just try. I thought also of a good friend in Memphis who is always angry at someone or something. When he launches into a tirade, I feel drained myself. Anger, even when self directed, does affect others.