Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Ep. 170 – Real Change Anthology: Anger to Courage

In celebration of the paperback book release of Sharon’s latest book, Real Change, in November of 2021, the Metta Hour is releasing an anthology of interviews exploring the themes from the book.

These interviews originally aired on the podcast in 2020, with Sharon speaking to different meditation teachers and activists about the intersection of mindfulness and lovingkindness practice with social action. For the fourth episode of this anthology, we’re exploring the theme of Anger to Courage. This episode features interview clips from Devon and Craig Hase, Sensei Joshin Byrnes, Marc Solomon, Mallika Dutt, and Shelly Tygielski. Each speak about their transformational journey working with anger: the pitfalls and promises of this powerful emotion and how to harness it for a courageous heart and mind.

The paperback edition of Real Change is now available! Order Here
Sensei Joshin Byrnes

Our first clip is from Episode 128 of the Metta Hour, featuring Sensei Joshin Byrnes, originally aired August 11th, 2020. Joshin is a Zen priest, teacher, activist, and the founder of the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community in Vermont. Joshin maintains a core practice of bearing witness to homelessness by offering street retreats in cities around the country and has spent much of his career working for social change nonprofits in the areas of AIDS and HIV prevention, child welfare, and community-based philanthropy. In this clip, Joshin shares about his personal journey learning how to recognize and honor his anger and find his own empowerment through self-compassion. He also shares about the necessity of anger in activism as an important threshold for taking action.

“I began to honor my own anger— In some way, anger is a valid or even wholesome response when we’re hurt. I could learn to how bow to it in a way, and that began a process of healing and transformation.” – Sensei Joshin Byrnes

Mallika Dutt (15:30)

Our next clip is from episode 140 of the Metta Hour, featuring Mallika Dutt, originally airing November 3rd, 2020. Mallika is a leading innovator in storytelling and culture change, bringing together the power of ancient wisdom and spiritual practices with contemporary technologies and tools for creative connection and transformation. She combines her creative advocacy for a thriving world with a coaching, speaking and strategy practice that connects planet, people, and purpose. In this clip, Mallika speaks about how she’s worked to honor the complexity of her anger and rage as part of her spiritual practice and work as an activist.

“I find that, for me, contemplative practice has really started to intersect very deeply with rage, with grief, with wrath, with this life force that exists around the outrageousness of what we have done as human beings to one another and to this Earth. And I can hold all of that and infuse it with loving kindness, with compassion, with empathy, with a deep commitment to service, to faith; and that there isn’t a contradiction between the two.” – Mallika Dutt

Shelly Tygielski (22:17)

The next clip is from episode 121 of the Metta Hour, featuring Shelly Tygielski, originally airing May 4th, 2019. Shelly is a mindfulness teacher, author, and grassroots community organizer who focuses much of her work supporting underserved communities, community organizations, non-profits, and schools. She’s deeply involved in offering trauma-informed healing practices to communities who’ve been affected by gun violence and mass shootings. Her first book, Sit Down To Rise Up, was released in September 2020. In this clip, Shelly discusses her experience teaching self-care for activists and how a longer-term perspective can be useful when working with anger to prevent burnout.

“Despair leads to anger. What I see most of the time now in the last several years is a rage, it’s an anger, and it’s a dangerous thing. It leads you to a place where you don’t have clarity, and anger is a bad thing to hold onto because it can hurt you physically and mentally in so many ways.” – Shelly Tygielski

Marc Solomon (26:49)

This next clip is from episode 134 of the Metta Hour, featuring Marc Solomon, originally airing September 21st, 2020. Marc is a nationally recognized political strategist and campaign leader with 25 years of experience in strategy, campaign management, policy development and execution, messaging and communications leadership, and field mobilization. Marc was one of the key architects of the marriage equality movement and has applied lessons from the marriage equality movement to help secure impactful criminal justice reforms, pass laws enacting automatic voter registration, advance pro-immigrant policies, and build bipartisan support for ending partisan gerrymandering. In this clip, Marc reflects on a three-month meditation retreat he sat in Barre, Massachusetts, in which he explored his anger towards himself and others, and how that led him to discover a more connected place within himself.

“There is something beneath those difficult emotions and feelings, and that is this notion of connection and love. It doesn’t mean that that’s what’s prominent much of the time, but just having experienced being in touch with that feeling of love and connection meant for me that even when I’m feeling angry and disconnected, I knew that there was something else, something better.” – Marc Solomon

Devon & Craig Hase

Our final clip is from episode 142 of the Metta Hour, featuring Devon and Craig Hase, originally airing Dec 1st, 2020. Devon has been committed to meditation since 2000, spending years in retreat in the Insight and Vajrayana traditions, and has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein, Tara Brach, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Craig began intensive meditation training in 1994, living in a Zen monastery for six years before getting his Ph.D. in counseling psychology. Together they are teachers and mentors in the spiritual community, and have just released their new book, How Not To Be A Hot Mess. In this clip, Devon shares her observations of anger in her mediation practice as a source of energy and clarity. Craig speaks about the different aspects of anger he has experienced, when it feels clear and useful, as opposed to times when it’s sticky and judgmental.

“I think that anger has the potential for really powerful action. Maybe ‘courage’ is a good word; for me it’s been ‘clear seeing.’ Anger has a kind of clarity in it that sees things truly. And from that place—when it’s also measured with a presence of mind and enough wisdom to know its appropriate—it can be a powerful change agent.” – Devon Hase

“That flash is enlivening, it’s energizing, it’s motivating. But for me the question is: Do I get stuck? A flash of anger—when I meet injustice, when I see injustice, and I have that white-hot flash—that can be very wholesome. Then there are the moments of: Does it get stuck? Does it become habituated? Do I get judgmental? The process of being socially engaged, for me, has been playing between these polarities, between these two kinds of anger.” – Craig Hase