Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Sides to One Coin (repost)

A few years ago I ran into a book I normally would not have considered reading. It was a biography of sorts, describing the life of a Holy man. What I thought was going to be a very boring read turned out to be a very illuminating work, which really gave me chewable food for thought.

In one of the chapters, the Holy man was visited, one day, by the town drunk; as everyone expected – being the infamous derelict that he was – the man walked in showing no respect, and began his verbal lashing in a very loud fashion. After spewing hateful words, and displaying an unwarranted angry behavior, the drunken man was about to turn on his heels and leave again. The Holy man smiled, thanked him for coming and told him to come back any time. At this juncture, all the believers in the room were puzzled, and asked the Holy man if he knew who the hateful fellow was. The Holy man only smiled, then whispered softly: “Yes, he is the most loving man I’ve ever met. He just hasn’t met that part of himself yet.”

Needless to say, this chapter had me thinking for days. Was the Holy man delusional? Was he so enshrouded in the light of Spirit that he couldn’t tell the difference between a spiritual being and a heavenly reject? Or was the Holy man so wise in his assessment that he could see something that was obviously eluding me?

I started watching angry people with different eyes, hoping to get a clear picture of what the wise man was talking about. What I saw the next several months knocked my socks off. Most of the angry people out there really were only lost to themselves, roaming around unhappily and hoping to connect somehow.

Anger is an emotion. To trigger anger one must be open to feelings. Most angry people are simply very sensitive people who are afraid and put up an intimidating shield to stop people from getting too close. Someone told me once that if you can feel one emotion you are already familiar with its opposite - the twin, the other side of the coin. The two are at odds with each other, and always present at the same time; if one can be triggered, so can the other.

I began to test the waters anytime I met anyone who appeared angry and despondent. I would argue with them a little, just to trigger the one side of emotions they were most comfortable and familiar with; once they became angry, I would switch my response and expose them to the twin feeling while they were riding the peak of the opposite wave. The results were astounding. Fire cannot be put out with more fire, but only with its opposite. Opposites defuse and neutralize one another, creating a new stage of play.

And for those who wonder whatever happened to the drunken man in the book, he went back to see the Holy man several times; with each visit, his anger diminished a bit more and he was able to open up and listen, rather than lash out at every word the teacher uttered. Soon, he became his most faithful follower, and remained with the Holy man until his teacher’s death many years later.

No comments: