Anger and other dark allies

There are five Reiki precepts that are taught in a traditional Reiki I training; five pithy rules that Reiki practitioners are asked to adhere:

Just for today:

– I will do my work honestly

– I will not worry

– I will kind to myself and others

– I will be grateful

– I will not be angry

I’ve always had problems with the last one. 🙂

One of the main reasons I am attracted to Shamanism and Earth-based spirituality is that it is so inclusive of the dark forces. We see these everywhere in nature – tsunamis, thunderstorms, tornados, scorpions, volcanos, great white sharks, cancer, parasites.

Even though these things are unpleasant and even abhorrent to us, we don’t really see them as a kind of problem in of themselves; as things that shouldn’t exist or that shouldn’t be happening. They simply are. They are part of the grand design, the great happening – Nature expressing itself in its myriad of ways.

We humans too have a nature; an inner nature of feeling and emotionality that that if allowed to flow unimpeded mirrors exactly what we see from the larger perspective above.

It is my belief that in general, healing is most often about helping people move more fully into their nature – owning all of themselves – not just the parts of them that are polite, safe, socially acceptable, and unthreatening.

We are all in a constant state of evolution, and if we are coming from the supposition that we are divine beings, than we must look at all the parts of us that we try to hide – jealousy, resentment, anger, annoyance, frustration, lust – from a standpoint of evolution.

They are there, because they serve deep and meaningful purposes.

And if we can SKILLFULLY harness their energy, observe and honor their presence within us, and listen to what they are trying to teach us, they can become not dark forces that we are victim to and have to contend with, but dark allies that can help to light our way.

I recall a story a teacher of mine had told me about his commute to the city from Staten Island. My friend is one of the most wise, realized and kind people I know. But he is also a self-identified witch. And witches aren’t afraid of the dark.

One day, I was talking with him about some annoyance I had just had with some company on the phone. Endless talking to a computer, ridiculous customer service, press this button and that button, overcharges and unethical business practices – We have all been there. I was really mad and worked up, and I had asked him, if I could be more skillful in the face of a situation like this.

He said, squinting his eyes and with a dark grimace on his face, ‘The other day I was on the Staten Island ferry on my commute home from the city. It was so hot, and the ferry was packed. There were children everywhere, smelly people, others playing boom boxes loudly, and a lot of pushing and shoving to squeeze as many people on the boat as possible. As I sat there, trying to make myself small, my knees in my chest, closing my eyes to try to drown out the experience, I had a fantasy: I wanted to kill EVERYONE. I fantasized about how I would do it. Murdering them all. Suffocate that child, strangle that one, and throw that one overboard. Everyone would be terrified by me as I relished in their fear and misery, my hatred in full bloom, one by one destroying them ALL!’.

We both, of course, burst out laughing.

But what he was conveying to me, was something that can be so helpful in the therapeutic process – making friends with what’s happening – even if it’s dark, shameful, or ‘wrong’. In that moment, my friend was getting on his own team. The full expression of his dark thoughts was an act of compassion toward himself. It helped him to not fight against the moment, but rather to really be with what’s there.

Now, I am of course not advocating blind reactive anger, or chronic anger (often the result of deep wounding). But rather, an intelligent presence; a kind acknowledgment that ‘this is happening’. It’s only in this recognition, that we can begin to look at what is underneath; what our darkness is trying to teach us.

In another session with my teacher, I remember expressing real jealousy at another person’s accomplishments. He smiled and said, ‘Oooo, what are you yearning for? What might you need to do for yourself, to not feel that any longer? What direction does it point you toward? This jealousy is there for a reason. How is it helping?’

Again, making friends with what’s happening; getting back on your own side.

Theres a tradition that I love among gurus, shamans, spiritual teachers; those who have done lots of work on themselves – its a tradition of LAUGHING. They seem to always be laughing. And the laughter seems to stem from the fact that to them, NOTHING really is all that scary. Even our darkness.

My work is about teaching people to hold themselves in ALL that they are. In doing so, they can start to remove the subtle ways in which they turn against themselves and the world.