Within the system of Reiki, the first precept says this: Do not anger.
However, it is said that Mikao Usui also was teaching a more elaborate precept about anger to some of his Buddhist students. That precept goes like this: Do not bear anger for anger is an illusion.
It is not hard to get an intellectual grasp of what the word “bear” means in this precept. “Do not bear anger” really means do not carry it around with you. Just observe it arising; don’t bear it, and it will dissolve all by itself.
However, “anger is an illusion” is much harder to grasp.
Recently I met up with Orgyen Chowang in California who wrote a wonderful book called, “Our Pristine Mind – A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness.”
In his book he writes very clearly about what illusion means and how this relates to anger. Here is a quote from his book:
“Illusoriness is sometimes misunderstood to mean that there is nothing there. If nothing appeared, however, we would not refer to it as an illusion because there would be no object to be an illusion. The point of illusoriness is that there seems to be something there, but doesn’t really exist as we think it does. Something appears, and in ordinary mind we are convinced something is real, but what we think it is in actuality does not exist in the way it appears.”
“Anger is an illusion” therefore doesn’t mean that anger is not there. It is there but it does not exist in the way it appears; it does not exist in the way we may think it does.
Chowang also states: “…if we pay attention to our anger and other negative emotions, they grow more powerful; if we do not pay attention to them, they disappear.”
This quote really points to the word “bear”. If we pay no attention to our anger it will dissolve. Or in other words, if we do not bear our anger it will dissolve.
Orgyen Chowang continues with, “When we do this, the angry energy fades away into nothingness because it was an illusion. Anger is an illusory appearance like the rainbow and the clouds. Circumstances and our perception make that anger appear. When we look closely at that anger, when we focus on the energy of anger and look directly at it, our perception shifts; we see there is nothing really there that we can identify as ‘anger.’”
This is why it is so important to not just recite the precepts mindlessly, but to really investigate what they mean and how they relate to our own way of living. We have to look really closely at our anger so that, as Chowang suggests above, our perception of the anger shifts. We can do this through the meditation practices taught within the system of Reiki and by meditating on the precepts.
Orgyen Chowang emphasises this point by saying: “In the same way, when we hear about illusoriness, our habit of assuming that things really are as they appear is so strong that it is hard to convince us that mental events are illusions. This is why illusoriness is very difficult for us to really understand. Even when we gain some intellectual understanding of it, the real meaning of illusoriness is something that has to be experienced through familiarity with meditation.”
This is why the system of Reiki is a life long practice. And this is why it is so important to apply the meditation practices which Mikao Usui put into his system, so that we can have the direct experience of why anger is an illusion.
He explains it even further: “If thoughts and emotions like anger, desire, jealousy, and all other mental events are illusions, why do they have such power? It is because we do not realise that they are illusions.”
Again, this is why we have to apply the meditation practices within the system of Reiki so that we can realise that our emotions are illusions. Not just anger but worry, jealousy, and “other mental events.”
Orgyen Chowang continues, “Sometimes people think we are denying or dismissing their emotional experiences if we say that mental events are illusions. They can become defensive. But identifying mental events as illusory is not intended to discount them. Of course, they do seem real, powerful, and able to affect our life. The point is that they are not the way they seem, and they do not have to have the powerful grip over us that we give them. That is why it is so transformative to understand their illusory nature.”
Mikao Usui was pointing out the same, that it is healing to understand the illusory nature of anger.
Thoughts come and go all throughout our lives. But if we focus on them and label, judge or distinguish, then we bear them in our mind and we give them power, power to become anger or worry. But before the moment we label, judge, or distinguish our thoughts, they are neither positive or negative; they are just energy.
As Orgyen Chowang points out, “Mental events do not have any inherent power apart from what we bestow on them with our attention. We perceive them as real, and that perception makes them powerful. Even if something is not real, if we think it is real, then it becomes powerful to us.”
As we can see, the precepts hold a lot of important teachings to rediscover and embody through our daily meditation practices as Mikao Usui taught. Because it is through the direct experience of embodying the precepts that real healing starts to take place. And realising that anger is an illusion, as in the first precept, is a first step on the path to healing.
Based in Holland, Frans Stiene teaches in North America, Europe, UK, Australia and Asia.
Frans is also the author of Reiki Insights, it is the continuation of his previous book The Inner Heart of Reiki, taking your personal practice and understanding of the system of Reiki yet another step deeper.