Published Friday, 29 September 2023
Suffering subsides to the degree
that you are free
from the intention to cause harm.
There is no real greatness
if there is no restraint of anger.
Dhammapada v. 390
In contemplation of this teaching on anger, we need to understand what is meant by ‘restraint’. For instance, do we think it is possible to feel aversion without it turning into toxic hatred? Or do we hold to the view that we must get rid of all feelings of aversion? Of the many skills taught by the Buddha, perhaps the most ignored, at least in modern times, is that of restraint, indriyasamvara. Wise restraint, or intentional inhibition, can be considered as a spiritual muscle. If you exercise it – carefully, not compulsively – you could discover a level of competence that means you can feel aversion without your heart contracting around it and turning it into hatred. Without clinging, there is no hatred. Right restraint doesn’t mean not feeling. It means feeling accurately. Of course there is a risk involved in as much as we might merely think we are not clinging when in our hearts we are still clinging. Hence, once again, the need to remember whole-being awareness. This path of practice is not merely a mental exercise.