Book Notes: Love and Rage

Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens
Read Nov 7, 2020 - Aug 22, 2021

I read Love and Rage over many months, slowly, giving myself the time to go back and forth, to re-read sections and ruminate on them.

There is much to recommend this book: the themes are very “of this moment”, the teachings are gentle and profound, the style is accessible. What I enjoyed most is how Lama Rod feels real and relatable in a way that is rare amongst Buddhist teachers, with his own mistakes and struggles and raw spots.

Book Highlights

Yet floating around in this spaciousness of mind is what I call material, expressions of energies that we identify as thoughts and emotions.

In Buddhist philosophy, enlightenment happens when I recognize the nature of my thoughts and sustain that recognition until it is permanent, leading also to recognizing the illusionary nature of my ego.

The development of an individual practice that supports the practice of the collective.

Without my body, I cannot experience liberation.

Tantra means “weave” or “system” and suggests a weaving together of various practices to produce a certain result.

Anger and rage are expressions of the same experience of being hurt, and the tension from needing to care for ourselves while also trying to figure out how to be safe.

When I say that everything should be loved, what I’m also saying is that everything has a place.

The self-agency that I speak of is an ethical expression of power that helps me to meet my needs and express myself in the world in a way that reduces violence against myself and others.

The issues we have with anger are rooted in our ambivalence toward power and our struggle to embody our power or agency effectively.

It is hard to let go of our ways of being in the world, because we simply do not know who we will become after we let go of our old selves.

The unbearable suspicion that their whiteness has had and continues to have a brutal impact on Black and brown folks creates a tension from which their own rage emerges, which is often directed back at Black and brown folks.

I had to understand that is part of my experience; however, there are people who trigger the experience for me, but they don’t create the experience. I create the experience. I am the creator of my anger.

The most important answers that I’ve gotten are: No, you figure it out. Use your practice to figure this question out.

Toxic psychic energy is energy that is unmetabolized, meaning that we are not holding space for the emotions we are experiencing, and we find ourselves reacting to the emotions in ways that are unskillful or harmful.

If we don’t do our work, then we become work for other people.

We need support to carry us through the bullshit. But more than that, we need to be reminded of our better selves, because those around us are often all too good at reflecting our ugliness back to us. If

I believe that the conflict we experience in community is a sacred conflict. I am not speaking of the conflict that comes through the abuse of power, but the conflict that comes with trying to get along with others and navigating various personalities.

I believe that ancestor practice helps us to develop a sense of connectedness and belonging to our communities and families while at the same time teaching us to open to a gratitude for what others have done before us to ensure our well-being. Ancestor practice also helps us to understand that we are ancestors in training, and this reflection helps me to think about what I am doing to ensure the well-being of others coming after me.

I define “lineage” as those beings who have come before us or who are still here in this life that share similar passions and interests with us.

So silence is not just the absence of noise or other distracting things; it is the state of being aware of phenomena and not getting lost in any of it.

One’s mind and body are talking. They are practicing community together.

To be a spiritual person means to be always willing to be in communication with things as they are, not as we wish them to be.

Holding space is the work of being with ourselves and others in a nonreactive way. I am able to notice everything that comes up in my mind and body, and I can allow it to be there without having to react to it.

I am committed to supporting people to be happy because it has been my experience that happy people create less violence.

When I am feeling disconnected, I begin to experience fear and isolation, and these are experiences that can lead to us committing all kinds of violence.

I tell activists often that if we want to change systems of violence and inequity, we must accept the reality of these systems. Again, accepting doesn’t mean celebrating or condoning; it only means that we allow the reality to be present so we can see it and really figure out how to change it. We cannot walk unless our feet are on the ground.

We are all experiencing broken hearts.

The gray is where we head to the edge of our practice where our hearts break and we are forced to sit with both the love and the rage.

Authentic self-care is about asking ourselves what we need in order to do the work of benefiting others, especially the communities we identify with.

Sleeping and resting are not the same thing. Resting means there’s a sense of letting go, letting be, dropping things, and just resting the mind, just being with things as they rise.

Anger is full of wisdom; and with the appropriate practice, anger can actually transform into wisdom.

If I am not being loved or not being encouraged to love, it’s not my community, and I must refrain by saying no.

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