John’s usual friendly face slowly transformed. His eyebrows narrowed and closed up; his eyes were intense and focus; the edge of the mouth turned down and his face was flushed. The sudden change in expression on his face and the rising change in his voice caught me by surprize. John was slowly being incoherent in his speech as he finally stared hard at me and shouted at how I had doubted him.
I watched this transformation in amazement without reacting to it. As time quickly passes on, the transformation was complete when he was shouting at the top of his voice. He was angry! He was not bothered by the presence of some peers nearby. John needed help.
Seven years ago, before I took up meditation, I would followed my thoughts and retaliated when slighted. I would felt the tension and pulpitation of my heart beating as the blood pressure rose sharply in response to John. My ear would have shut off his vocal attack and ready to defend John’s attack. Instead, in this instance, I watched as John’s anger reached a crescendo.
I decided to take action to help cool him down. I stated what and how he felt and how he was wronged. I agreed in the circumstances that he has the right to be upset. I apologized. And I paused. I watched as his face’s tension relaxed and his temper peaked momentarily. John’s expectation of a retaliation didn’t materialized and he simply stared, remained silent with the occasional interjection and listened further to my explaination. His anger subsided, his face relaxed and he stopped shouting.
On reflection, I noticed John was being controlled by his perceived thoughts of being doubted. In reacting to his thoughts, he went into a rage. Through this experience and understanding my reaction, I also noticed that by letting go of the thought of retaliation to John’s outburst helped the situation. Instead wisely deciding to help relieve his suffering changed my view on life.
I realized that following and acting on thoughts unwisely led to an imaginary world, an imaginary life. In contrast, to notice thoughts and letting it go led to a peaceful self in the middle of such anger attack. This good control of thoughts allows one to decide wisely the action to take. Hence, making living real and peaceful.
In summary, the imaginary and the real life co-exist in this world from moment to moment. Until we are awake to this fact, we will continue to live an imaginary life in a world driven by thoughts.