Here’s the deal: no matter how we live it, life will absolutely have the duality of Yin and Yang. Just as every coin has two sides, hot weather means there is cold weather, light means there is dark, and if there are things we enjoy then there are things we won’t enjoy. This is the essential nature of existence.
The universe represents everything, and we are playing out an aspect of that infiniteness. That role will certainly take us into both sides of existence. And if that is the case, then we can see that it’s possible to take what’s happening to us personally. We are not in control, we are more actors on the universe’s stage.
Those aren’t our problems, they are aspects of the universe’s script and we’re merely the ones playing that scene out. We simply shouldn’t take our identity or beliefs very seriously. We are enacting them, but they are not us. That’s why the real us can be at odds with our own actions.
We can think this is a complex, deep, foreign idea but it’s not. We encounter it all the time. Whether we choose to attempt to remember them or not, everyone dreams because that’s how our brain builds the ideas it uses to navigate the world.
In our dreams we are totally okay with being disappointed, or scared, or hurt because we wake up and write the feelings off as a dream. The question then is, why don’t we do that with the same feelings when we’re awake? We’ve already proven to ourselves that we can.
The difference will be that we believe we were just dreaming, whereas you call the other experiences you have: reality. But fear is fear. Joy is joy. The border between dreaming and reality is pretty thin. The difference is in what we believe. Ideas that are too far removed from our belief system simply get called crazy. Those are other people’s reality-dreams that are too far removed from our own.
For instance, there were many people who looked at the world and thought it certainly appeared flat so they thought the people who said it was round were crazy. That’s how belief works, whether we’re awake or asleep. Despite all of the evidence the contrary, people today prove that you can still earnestly believe it’s flat, and that the ’rounders’ are crazy.
There are two primary ways to navigate moving through this universe. The first is to self-reinforce your own beliefs and rigidly call them reality. From that perspective you will be disappointed or angry or upset by anyone who chooses not to share your beliefs regarding your priorities.
These people are easy to spot—they’re always angry or upset about something. They’ve got hundreds of ways for other people to be wrong, or immoral, or lacking in character. If they’re divorced, rather than their ex’s being good people that they couldn’t make it work with, they’ll be idiots or bitches or jerks or losers.
In essence, these people’s rigidness about what constitutes proper behaviour is what keeps them perpetually tense and angry and it’s why they can’t form the sort of strong bonds that real unconditional love creates.
Another way to be is; open and flexible regarding what you feel reality is. Then very little is outside of the boundaries of acceptability to you. If a dog barks and wakes you up, you accept that dogs bark, you accept that not everyone was raised to learn to teach their dog not to bark very early in the morning, and you accept that the event has already happened.
With a healthy perspective, the person can then wake up and go about their day under the assumption that something good will happen—and maybe even because they’re up earlier than they planned. They will find that good thing simply because they are looking for it. The duality is always there, it’s simply a matter of which side of the coin you choose to look at.
That other person is angry about the dog. The dog shouldn’t bark. That person in their past should have taught it differently. Therefore the dog is pissing the person off, and the owner is labelled an idiot. Meanwhile the healthy person is up having a tea or coffee, enjoying the day because that’s their mindset.
Without all of those rules and lines in their head, they are free to take in and absorb the magnificence of creation because that is what they are looking to find, just as the angry person was looking for reasons to think the thoughts that will dose them with the chemistry for their addictions: disappointment, frustration and anger.
That’s also why the angry person will still be talking or thinking angrily about being woken up by the dog even hours or days later. They’re like pushers, using their amygdala to dose their brain with angry chemistry.
Learn from angry people. Watch how much they are puppeted around by events in their lives. If it rains on their camping weekend it rained on them. If someone runs a red light, then they hit them. It’s as though the person who did the hitting was literally waiting for a specific driver to run into.
If they have a terrible new boss, then the boss is being a jerk to them rather than just being someone who is impacting everyone as they learn their new job . Their ex’s are all terrible people, and any ex-friend too. And they will have a lot of ex-friends, because with all of those rules and lines about what is acceptable and unacceptable it’s virtually impossible for them not to be let down.
Essentially, an angry person thinks every unmet expectation is a failure of the world’s, whereas a healthy person sees an unmet expectation as a mistake on the part of themselves, the thinker. Had they never used their power of thought to build that expectation then they couldn’t possibly be let down by it not happening.
Angry people are teachers. Far from bothering us, we should watch them intently. We should try to genuinely understand how they come into so much conflict and anger. Why are they always frustrated and disappointed? (Except in those cases where things are, by fluke, going exactly the way they want.) Witness the connection between their ugly feelings and their rigid expectations.
We can know ourselves by knowing them. Because in the end, we’re using the same tool to build our realities, and we’re only marginally better because we by chance got healthier programming. But we’re generally just as blind to enlightenment as they are.
Let’s make good from bad and use their extreme qualities to help us see exactly how they come into such a remarkable amount of conflict both inside and out. This not only increases our emotional skill set, but it also increases our empathy for the suffering of angry people.
Let us consider it a spiritual exercise to stop being bothered by angry or sad people. Instead let us learn from them. As the Dalai Lama has said many times, they are our very best teachers and we should be grateful for the lessons they so painfully deliver to us at such a high cost to themselves.
So with thanks to them, let’s all go out and enjoy our day, and let’s do it by choice. 😉
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.