View Full Version : Drop the case

Kunga Dorji
05-13-11, 07:25 AM
Meditation and Spirituality are all about achieving peace of mind.
The real goal of that achievement is to be able to take our part as a part of the greater whole of humanity and to offer the benefits of our peace of mind to all those who cross our path. I have been the beneficiary of other people's practice of this art many times, and am only just beginning to grasp how many times I have been carried by the goodwill of others.

When I look at my life- I can see so many times when I have failed to life up to my principals, so many times when I could have done better.
I think all of us who live or have lived with ADHD understand that there have been times when we have left a trail of destruction behind us.

One of the great things about being diagnosed with ADHD for me was that I could see a reason for my failings that did not involve deliberate bed behaviour. The diagnosis gave me a valid reason to forgive myself.

It wasn't too long before I figured out that despite not having ADHD- that the same truth applied to virtually everyone else.

People usually do not do wrong things because they wish to harm others- usually these actions arise because in some way we feel boxed in and trapped by circumstances. We often act in fear, in the way we feel we are forced to behave because of our misunderstanding of circumstances.
This is what is truly meant by the word ignorance- being ignorant of the whole of reality. In many ways ADHD involves a great deal of ignorance- ignorance of the totality of what is happening in the moment.

This is a situation that I think comes into our lives all the time- especially in this ultimate age of bureaucracy where we are always being scrutinized and watched by one authority or the other, all determined to see our behavior fits neatly into their predetermined boxes.

The longer I persist with my meditation practice the more I see that in hanging on to anger against others I harm myself more than I harm anybody else. I rather think that that rather trite Christian bumper sticker "Not Perfect, Just Forgiven" maybe encapsulates the greatest wisdom that anything we need to know.

I came across a rather interesting comment over the weekend at a workshop with Rick Hanson- a neuropsychologist from California:

He quoted a statement of that Buddha's that I had not heard before.
Acting towards another person with anger in your heart is like trying to hurt them by throwing hot coals at them with your bare hands.
I get that - I have had enough of anger.

I sometimes don't know how to establish firm boundaries, and to assert the right without acting in anger. However, I hope I will learn more of this skill in time.

It is in the context of this theme that I offer a teaching of Rick's on the subject of anger: ( and I do have his permission to post his email newletter here.
(The newsletter is called "Just One Thing" and anyone can subscribe to it free of charge at (

Who are you prosecuting? <table style="background-color: rgb(153, 153, 153); margin-bottom: 5px;" bgcolor="#999999" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="100%"> <tbody><tr> <td rowspan="1" colspan="1" align="left" height="1">
</td> </tr> </tbody></table><table style="margin-bottom: 5px;" border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; text-align: left;" rowspan="1" colspan="1" align="left"> The Practice
Drop the case.
</td></tr></tbody></table> <table style="margin-bottom: 5px;" border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; text-align: left;" rowspan="1" colspan="1" align="left"> Why?

Lately I've been thinking about a kind of "case" that's been running in my mind about someone in my extended family. The case is a combination of feeling hurt and mistreated, critique of the other person, irritation with others who haven't supported me, views about what should happen that hasn't, and implicit taking-things-personally.

In other words, the usual mess.

It's not that I have not been mistreated - actually, I have been - nor that my analysis of things is inaccurate (others agree that what I see does in fact exist). The problem is that my case is saturated with negative emotions like anger, biased toward my own viewpoint, and full of me-me-me. Every time I think of it I start getting worked up, adding to the bad effects of chronic stress. It creates awkwardness with others, since even though they support me, they're naturally leery of getting sucked into my strong feelings or into my conflict with the other person. It makes me look bad, too cranked up about things in the past. And it primes me for overreactions when I see the person in question. Yes, I practice with this stuff arising in my mind and generally don't act it out, but it's still a burden.

I think my own experience of case-making - and its costs - are true in general. In couples in trouble, one or both people usually have a detailed Bill of Particulars against the other person. At larger scales, different social or political groups have scathing indictments of the other side.

How about you? Think of someone you feel wronged by: can you find case against that person in your mind? What's it feel like to go into that case? What does it cost you? And others?

The key - often not easy - is to be open to your feelings (e.g., hurt, anger), to see the truth of things, and to take appropriate action . . . while not getting caught up in your case about it all.
</td></tr></tbody></table> How?

Bring to awareness a case about someone - probably related to a grievance, resentment, or conflict. It could be from your present or your past, resolved or still grinding. Explore this case, including: the version of events in it, other beliefs and opinions, emotions, body sensations, and wants; notice how you see the other person, and yourself; notice what you want from others (sometimes their seeming failings are a related case). For a moment or two, in your mind or out loud, get into the case: really make it! Then notice what that's like, to get revved up into your case.

Mentally or on paper, list some of the costs to you and others of making this particular case. Next, list the payoffs to you; on other words, what do you get out of making this case? For example, making a case typically makes us feel in the right, is energizing, and helps cover over softer vulnerable emotions like hurt or disappointment. Then ask yourself: are the payoffs worth the costs?

With this understanding, see if you can stay with the difficult feelings involved in the situation (the basis for the case) without slipping into a reproachful or righteous case about them. To do this, it could help to start by resourcing yourself by bringing to mind the felt sense of being cared about by others, and by opening to self-compassion. And try to hold those difficult feelings in a big space of awareness.

Open to a wider, more impersonal, big picture view of the situation - so it's less about you and more about lots of swirling causes coming together in unfortunate ways. See if any kind of deeper insight about the other person, yourself, or the situation altogether comes to you.

Listen to your heart: are there any skillful actions to take? Including naming the truth of things, disengaging from tunnels with no cheese, or the action of there-is-nothing-that-can-be-<wbr>done.

Watch how a case starts forming in your mind, trying to get its hooks into you. Then see if you can interrupt the process. Literally set down the case, like plopping down a heavy suitcase when you finally get home after a long trip. What a relief!

Enjoy the good feelings, the spaciousness of mind, the openness of heart, the inner freedom, and other rewards of dropping your case
In the context of this I would also like to offer the technique of "loving kindness" and "compassion based" meditations.

This was one of the focuses of our weekend workshop. I have to say that I found the meditaions a real pleasure to practice.

05-17-11, 03:39 PM
Acting towards another person with anger in your heart is like trying to hurt them by throwing hot coals at them with your bare hands.

I heard a similar quote recently: Resentment is like taking poison and then waiting for the other person to die.