One of the things that was emphasized in my Buddhist meditation training (and this holds true for most contemplative spiritualities) was that there is really nothing useful about anger, it was entirely destructive. This is further backed up by statements such as “one moment of anger is enough to destroy the merit (good karma) that you can create over aeons” and “a moment of anger can cause you to have a hundred negative rebirths in the future”.
My present take on anger is that it is a powerful emotion that is basically neutral in nature, and that can be used in positive or negative ways.
Anger is NOT the same thing as raw aggression, cruelty, bullying, hatred, acting to deliberately harm. It can just as easily be expressed as personal power, positive assertiveness, the powerful/wrathful expression of compassion and so on…
With this in mind, here are three useful analogies* for what positive anger can be like:
Anger is the T cells, or white blood cells of our psychological immune system – It is the aspect of our mind that becomes alert when there is a threat to our wellbeing, and acts to defend
Anger is the protector of our psychological boundaries – When there is someone or something that is causing an abuse of our psychological self, positive anger can act to defend and ward off that abuse and restore appropriate boundaries
Anger is like an illuminating fire – Yes anger is hot like a fire, but it can also be illuminating like fire. In Tibetan Tantric Meditation the higher expression of anger is said to be ‘clarity’. If we can separate our anger from our confusion, sometimes we say things in a much clearer and more wise way than we would ever have the courage to do without the impetus of anger
Dealing with anger is not easy, but that does not give us an excuse to shy away from the responsibility that we have for harnessing it to our compassionate impulses and using it for the best and highest purposes of ourself and the World.
*These analogies if first heard from the work of Ken Wilber and Robert Masters
Tomorrow I will be doing a class entitled “The transformative power of bliss and ecstasy – Connecting to the experience of enlightened love” . So, I gave myself 20 minutes to write down some conditions that I felt were important for developing bliss and ecstasy in our life in general, and romantic relationships (as in all 5 types of romantic relationship). Here is what I came up with:
You need to have a right relationship to sex and sexuality, avoiding the extremes represented on the one hand by imbalanced religion: Sex is sinful, and on the other hand by secular culture where indulgence in debasing and carnal sexuality are encouraged. Avoid the extremes of either guilt or over-indulgence.
You need to have a healthy diet and take appropriate exercise. This means a diet that nurtures and preserves the long term health and wellbeing of your physical body. Blissful and ecstatic states cannot be sustained by a body that is filled with impurity and low vibrations. For example a sugar high may bring short term pleasure, but in the long term exess sugar desensitizes and degrades the body, making it very difficult for consistent, stable blissful states to be maintained in the body or mind. Similarly and physically unfit body that you don’t value enough to take care of is not going to provide you with a stable basis for deep bliss.
You need to be open and have the courage to face both deep pleasure and deep pain in your romantic relationship. Bliss and ecstasy cannot flow through a body mind where deep levels the emotional being has been repressed. Go beyond your comfort zone!
You need to know that you are deserving of bliss. If you don’t like yourself and love yourself, you won’t let bliss into your life even if the conditions are staring you in the face
You need to meditate and create special time to experience the divine each day. Bliss and ecstasy can be stimulated occasionally by outer objects and circumstances, but fundamentally deep, stable bliss relies upon some form of inner connection to source.
You need to enjoy the experience of being naked! The natural sensual spirituality of your own body and of your partners (even if you are well over 45!) J
You need to practice joy, gratitude and appreciation each day, and practice communicating these to your romantic partner
You need to be able to accept deep bliss. Superficially it seems like anyone would say yes to bliss. However, to our ego, bliss is as threatening to our self sense as pain and misery. If you really open to bliss, you will be transformed and changed. Your negative ego won’t like this and thus will try and close you off to too much bliss.
For sensual pleasure to be connected to inner spiritual bliss, they need to be combined with awareness and restraint
PS: If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out how you can use the latest meditation technologies to enhance your bliss and joy, then click here: Digital Euphoria
Conventional romantic love is temporary and transient, based around stimulation from an external object. Post-conventional romantic love is a lasting and deep seated experience of passion and ecstasy that arises from a deep connection to the infinite love and the reality of spiritual union that we find within ourself.
Conventional romantic love is thus a temporary high that arises from the pleasurable stimulation that we get from something or someone outside of ourself.
Post-conventional or transpersonal (meaning a sense of romance beyond the ordinary boundaries of our ego) romantic love is a type of happiness that comes from a sense of connection to the universe that we find inside ourself.
Conventional ideas of romantic love really centre around the ideas of desire and attraction in the sense that I have outlined in my previous article on these two qualities.
Our initial desire and attraction to a person or a pursuit causes us to temporarily connect to a sense of transcendence where all our problems seem to fall away and we experience joy, pleasure and feel great. The problem is that this only lasts as long as the novelty lasts. As soon as we start to get used to the person that we are in love with, or the work that we have fallen in love with starts to get tough, our old ego re-emerges and we crash back down to earth and all of our old problems find us again (and perhaps a few more that we did not think that we had before!).
The post-conventional or transpersonal view of romantic love is that the initial high that we experience when we fall in love is in fact real, but we mistake the person with whom we have fallen in love with the state of mind that our contact with them evokes.
It is indeed possible to experience a lasting romantic passion in our life (in any one of the Five types of romantic relationship that we may have) and for our life. However, in order for this to take place we need to shift that basis of our search for romantic love
From an external person or object that gives us pleasure
To an internal object (love and spirit) that gives rise to lasting, sustainable happiness and passion as an internal state of mind within ourselves.
Happiness arises always primarily from an inner source, pleasure comes mostly from an external stimuli. Knowing the difference between these two is a big part in negotiating our way to peace of mind.
Other observations about transpersonal or post-conventional romantic love:
It can hold paradox. This means for example that you can be at once passionate and ecstatic, and at the same time be in touch with deep centeredness and peace
It recognizes the external person or thing that initially stimulated our love as a doorway to the spiritual experience of romance. It does not confuse the state of mind with the object
Our sense of love may be inspire by a person, place or type of work, but we can transfer that sense of love and see all things and events in our life through loving eyes
Our life becomes characterized by creativity, flow and a sense of effortlessness (Or perhaps I should say here an awareness of the creativity, flow and effortlessness in our lif that was there all the time, but that we could not access)
How do you get to this post-conventional experience of romantic love?
Throughthe doorway of relationship, the second stage of romantic love as we are looking at it in these articles. It is through the challenges that we face with the people and things that we love that we are able to identify and clear all the aspects of our ego that are blocking our love. If we understand this then we will welcome the challenges that come into our romances, as we recognize that we can use them to travel toward longer term states of romantic passion and ecstasy.
What happens if I have not yet met my romantic “Soul mate”, or the person/spouse I am in a relationship does not want to use our problems as a way to deepen our love, but just wants to stay stuck in ego?
The journey to transpersonal romance often involves a level of patience and fortitude that most people did not think themselves capable of, so you need these qualities.
But, even if you never meet someone, or have to put up with a limited experience of love in your relationship with your principal human partner, remember there are five types of romantic love, and thus five different doorways through which you can experience romance in your life. If the human aspect has not come together, then you can still enjoy the other four and be deeply fulfilled in this way!