In “Thoughts in Solitude” Thomas Merton writes:
"It would be absurd to suppose that because emotion sometimes interferes with reason, that it therefore has no place in the spiritual life. Christianity is not stoicism. The Cross does not sanctify us by destroying human feeling. Detachment is not insensibility." — Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, page 24.
This got me musing about non-violent action, righteous anger and the shaming or judgement we can often apply to the expression of big emotions. Or more to the point, a fundamental oppression or incapacity towards the healthy (and powerfully necessary) expression and alchemical transformation of big emotions in our society and our relationships.
In the context of the climate emergency, we are seeing some BIG emotions. The big emotions of rage, grief, terror, despair, fear. Unsurprising, considering what we are bearing witness to.
The lines of the opening speech of the international rebellion of Extinction Rebellion in Oxford Circus on April 15th 2019 were these:
“We are angry and we are calm enough to say so and invite others to join us.”
Prof. Jem Blendell, author of the Deep Adaptation paper recently wrote this piece entitled “Don’t police our emotions.” I recommend you read it.
In his analysis of archetypes, Carl Jung writes: “There are three essential aspects of The Mother; her cherishing and nourishing goodness, her orgiastic emotionality, and her Stygian depths.” The archetype of the Great Mother, the Earth. The One who nourishes us, delights us, terrifies and harms us. A force that drives both creation and destruction. The untameable, uncontrollable and the unnameable.
This morning I read these words by Steiner on the subject of anger.
No-one does better at acquiring an inner capacity for sound judgment than one who has started from a state of soul in which they could be moved to righteous anger by anything ignoble, immoral or crazy.
Life shows us that a person who is unable to flare up with anger at injustice or folly will never develop true kindness and love.
Equally, a person who educates their self through noble anger will have a heart abounding in love, and through love he will do good. Love and kindness are the obverse of noble anger.
Anger that is overcome and purified will be transformed into the love that is its counterpart. A loving hand is seldom one that has never been clenched in response to injustice or folly. Anger and love are complementary.
Transmuted anger is love in action. That is what we learn from reality. Anger in moderation has the mission of leading human beings to love; we can call it the teacher of love.