Bring Up that Anger
by Friends of Godwin
Some people in the West are hurt very much in their youth. They have never been able to develop their own self-esteem. They feel a coldness and indifference inside. This wound can be so deep that it is difficult to heal even with loving-kindness. It’s a kind of vicious circle they are in. The question is: how can they foster this little germ of self-esteem and self-love?
Sri Lankan people don’t have this problem. It is possible that they might have had a difficult childhood, but they do not suffer from it so much. Sri Lankan people are raised with the idea that they should be grateful to their parents. They never see a connection between their parents and the difficulties experienced in childhood, and their present problems. It means they never blame the parents for their upbringing and for what they are experiencing.
In Sri Lanka children are brought up within extended families, so children get enough attention, and they have many sources for experiencing affection. Their diet of affection and love is very rich and they have a lot of opportunities to find comfort and support if they need it, therefore the wounds described above don’t develop.
When I started to be with Westerners, I learned about these very serious and deep wounds which have happened to them in childhood. Usually these people carry a lot of anger and resentment against their parents. In the beginning I made the mistake of saying: “Just forgive your parents, have loving-kindness.” I realised this did not work because they would come and tell me: “How can I have loving-kindness? I feel like hitting my mother, I feel like beating my father.” Sometimes they had so much anger that I got afraid.
Now what I say is: “Please bring up that anger. If you like to, you can verbalise that anger, speak to your parents in your imagination, wholeheartedly experience that anger.” I think as children they did not have an opportunity to really express the anger they had towards their parents. They’re holding onto it, and it’s sometimes good to bring it out.