A Man Without Anger (Story by Risa Peris)

I was in route to Tibet. I attended many classes about Buddhism while in Los Angeles. The classes were in Venice Beach in a one-bedroom apartment. The balcony door was always open and you could smell the salty air and hear people chatting about money, weather, and the feel of the water. The teacher sat cross-legged on the hardwood floor with a whiteboard. The room was crowded with an odd number of people. Thirteen, I think. They sat on a couch, two chairs, and on the floor. I could see in their faces they had great respect for their Buddhist teacher. I never had much respect for teachers. I had awful ones all throughout school. Even in college. The teacher began with a syllogism. I forget his example. It was too basic but I don’t think there was a fallacy. I knew one from Shakespeare. Timon of Athens. “Flavius: Have you forgot me, sir? /Timon: Why dost ask that? I have forgot all men; Then, if thou grant’st thou’rt a man, I have forgot thee.”

“We’re talking about Buddhism here,” said one lady, with dark roots sprouting from her blonde hair. “Not Shakespeare.” She looked at the teacher. “What does the Dalai Lama think of syllogisms?”

This got me hopping mad. Who cares what he thinks? What’s your opinion, lady who needs her roots touched up?

I stuck with the classes. And it took time for my anger to unfold. Why do the Buddhists think they have a stronghold on the truth? I went to Tibet knowing fully the violence the Buddhists enacted against the Rohingya in Myanmar. It made me laugh and cry. Buddhists don’t have any more answers than any other religions or philosophy. We are all flawed humans with biases scuttling about the Earth like unenlightened insects. But I had to go to Tibet. It was the only way to untangle the knot of anger.

In Tibet, after a long trip, people were just ordinary. The only thing I truly remember was a Buddhist monk making a gorgeous sand picture and when he appraised it, acknowledged his crowd and bowed, he flung his hand across the sand. He destroyed it. Like all life is destroyed. I saw something though. Beauty in the muddled lines. Chaos. Life. My slow unfolding anger flip-flopped and now I was in love with my life. With all life.

If one man loves life.
Then he is a man.
Therefore, all men love life.

I know there was a fallacy in that logic. Yet, in that moment it was true. A strong breeze came and so went my anger. What is the sound of one man without anger? Laughter. I smiled all the way back to the decrepit hotel.