Dharma Topic: Letting Go of Resentment

Dharma Topic: Letting Go of Resentment

Discussion date: Thu, Jan 26, 2006 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday Evening, January 26, 2006, after ourmeditation period, we will practice the Five Touchings of the Earth, aguided movement meditation created by Thich Nhat Hanh that can help ground us inour personal histories, our collective histories, and in the relationships thatnow engage us.

In our program, we will focus especially on the fourthtouching which is about transmitting love to those close to us:

In gratitude and compassion, I bow down and transmit my energy to those I love.

All the energy I have received I now want to transmit to my father, my mother, everyone I love, and all who have suffered and worried because of me, and for me.

I know I have not been mindful enough in my daily life. I also know that those who love me have had their own difficulties. I see that they have suffered because they were not lucky enough to have an environment that encouraged their full development, and I feel compassion for their suffering. I transmit my energy to my beloved ones: my mother, my father, my brothers, my sisters, my husband, my partner, my wife, my daughter, my son; to the family of friends I have created around me; and to the husband, wife, partner, and children I may have in the future.

I transmit my energy so that their pain will be relieved, so they can smile and feel the joy of being alive. I want all of them to be healthy and joyful. I know that when they are happy, I will also be happy. I no longer feel resentment towards any of them. I pray that all ancestors in my blood and spiritual families will focus their energies toward each of them, to protect and support them. I know that I am not separate from them. I am one with those I love.

For me, one of the most powerful parts of this Touching isthe short sentence "I no longer feel resentment towards any of them."The teaching is that we can truly begin to love only when we give up ourresentments.

I think of anger as being like thunder – when it is presentyou know it is there, and your attention is drawn to it. Resentment, however, islike water seeping into the beams. It is quiet, easily ignored, and insidious.It may be unnoticed until the beams rot and the house collapses.

In our daily life resentments are born when another person,even someone we are close to, acts in ways which we believe harm us or others,and we hold it against them. And continue to hold it against them, cherishingour spite. Implicitly we attribute to them a "self" that intends tohurt others. They, or at least part of them, then become the enemy, someone, orsomething, separate from us.

If we are not mindful of the resentments in us, if we don’tlearn how to reverse the process, deconstructing the evil "selves" wehave created for others, the resentments grow and cause suffering both forourselves and for those we resent.

For me, the teachings on letting go of our resentments areone of the greatest gifts of mindfulness practice. To let go of our resentmentsmeans to live without the desire to get even or to punish. It frees us to lovefully.

Letting go of our resentments, however, doesn’t mean to letgo of our common sense or wisdom. It doesn’t mean to not protect ourselves andothers from physical and emotional harm. It simply means to let go of thestories we are constantly creating in which we attribute to others (andourselves) evilness, meanness, or other inherent negative characteristics.Rather than the stories, we rely more on our eyes of compassion. We become moresensitive to the ignorance and suffering that underlies destructive (orself-destructive) behavior.

You are invited to join us this Thursday for our meditationperiod, the Five Touchings of the Earth, and our discussion on how love andresentment have interacted in our lives.

The best times to join us on this Thursday evening are:

  • Just before the first sitting at 7 pm;

  • At 7:25, at the beginning of walking meditation; or,

  • At 7:35, at the beginning of the second sitting.

You may also enjoy reading the William Blake poem, A PoisonTree, provided below. It was originally called "On Christian Forbearance."

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher


A Poison Tree, by William Blake
(A copy of Blake’s notebook sketch for the poem, completed in 1794, isbelow, followed by the text.)

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine –

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jan 26, 2006


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