I’m Not Angry!

One of the greatest rock 'n rollers in history was Elvis Costello. On his first album he included the song "I'm Not Angry" which is so ironic as to not need comment. The song literally seethes for its two and half minutes. Costello half screams, half growls the song's title, occaisionally adding, sotto voce, "anymore." It is a song I can often relate to, except for the "anymore."

Anger is my most dangerous emotion, it literally consumes me when I raise its ugly head. And somewhere in my study of psychology someone pointed out that anger turned inward is depression. I have been there as well. There is much in Taosim about controlling yourself and modifying your thoughts and therefore your feelings.

Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching has this to say:

The Tao doesn't take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn't take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.

(S. Mitchell translation)

Deep Breath. The saints make me feel unworthy and the sinners just plain tick me off. Deep Breath. I do need to accept both, they are both part of the Tao. People can't disappoint you or anger you if you accept them as they are. Both Taoism and Albert Ellis point this out. But this is difficult for me, I am extremely judgmental.

The sage retains tranquillity,
and is not by speech or thought disturbed,
and even less by action which is contrived.
His actions are spontaneous,
as are his deeds towards his fellow men.

(Chapter 5, S. Rosenthal translation)

Tranquility in the face of "provocation" is exactly what I need to strive for. "Good" things come and go. "Bad" things do as well. Even in his song, Costello offers this Taoistic rationale for not being angry "anymore:"

There's no such thing as an original sin.

He is right, every slight, every wound has been done before, there is nothing new in the Tao, as it contains all things. So there is only one thing to do, as Stephen Mitchell ends his Chapter Five: "Hold onto the center."

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Filed under General Writings, Self Improvement, Tao Te Ching Translations, Taoism

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