There is a story about a Japanese zen master who had once been a samurai in pre-modernized Japan. His much younger student once asked him why he (the student) wasn’t more like his electrifying samurai zen master, rather than a meek and quiet person with no such charismatic qualities whatsoever. His master told him (paraphrasing): “Zazen won’t change who you are. Whoever you are, that’s how your zazen and practice will be.”
We don’t see how the teachings connect up with reality until we’re actually in the middle of our own delusion, or in the middle of our own pre-programmed methods of response to our world. But the sutras and teachings handed down from our ancestors teach us that the passions themselves are enlightenment. Therefore, not only is anger enlightenment itself masked from us by seeing it through the ego, but anger is in fact the most powerful fuel for enlightenment at our disposal.
“One who enters the way with ripened causes will never leave.”
Karmic effects are enlightenment come to roost. Turning them away won’t work. That’s us we’re looking at there. Anger is a type of energy. Energy can be used to fuel all kinds of things. Great athletes don’t swear as they run down the track, or as they deadlift 500 pounds, or work their way toward the hoop, they use their anger to focus more completely. The same applies to anger in zazen. We need only recognize our emotions as ourselves, and the energy they carry as our own. Then we may accept the gift of anger as truly a gift, meant to be unwrapped and savored for what it really is, as are all other emotions at their core: the will to save all beings.