I am a redhead and a hothead. I always suspected that God in the act of creating me, couldn't resist advertising my true nature in symbolic form to the world. "O my, here's a real wild one, lets set her head on fire!"
But I fooled God! I, of my own free will, took all that fire and I wrapped it up in a clean, white turban.
Well, maybe I never fooled anybody. I am a person who gets angry easily and often. However, I have discovered that anger is only the surface emotion in me, the first feeling I feel, but not necessarily my most authentic emotion.
Underneath my upset and anger is a deeper more vulnerable sea of sorrow, sadness and grief. Therefore I think about myself as a rage-on-top-of-grief personality because I am angry on top and so sad beneath.
There are many people who are the opposite of me. They repress their rage and show their grief. I think of them as grief-on-top-of-rage types.
Admittedly, to narrow the whole range of hard to handle emotions down to simply FEAR, which then births grief or rage, may be stupidly simplistic. The poet in me is outraged by such ruthless reductionism but another side of me still wonders if all "negative" emotions are not simply fear, expressing itself as grief or rage. Were this so in the rage family we would find anger, jealousy, revenge, anxiousness, and restlessness, and in the grief family we would discover sadness, depression, worry, listlessness and apathy.
Emotions such as disillusionment, sense of betrayal, or hopelessness would access rage in some and grief in others, depending on their basic personality.
I remember sitting on the floor around the communal dinner table one afternoon with several of my 3HO sisters. We were sharing one our many private jokes at the expense of our Sikh brothers and husbands. A single man was enjoying what we sisters called a "black stomp", marching around the ashram slamming doors and drawers and swearing to himself. Almost all the men in the house were prone to "black stomps", although the married men often contained their outbursts to their bedrooms and swore at their wives not themselves. Watching all this I started to figure out that almost all the 3HO men that I thought were strongest (and sexiest) were quick to anger. They were often bellowing, and we women, as Grace of Gods, were expected to calmly soothe these roaring lions with tall glasses of cool drinks, and mutterings of "you're right dear, I'm sorry dear, its God's Will dear."
I, however, had a problem with this system. I am a roaring lion myself. I am, in fact, a bit of a rarity, seemingly, in the 3HO dharma, I am a woman with a hot temper that is a scapegoat to the core!
This is the standard rage-on-top-of-grief personality; someone who gets pissed off often and easily and who then usually, forgets and forgives just as quickly. Most Rage/Grief types gave up on their parents at a very early age when they discovered that the dysfunctionality of their families was extreme enough that it was highly improbable that they would get any of their needs met. We Rage/Grief types reacted with a "well screw you, I'll do it myself" attitude that was designed to hide and protect that vulnerability, insecure and unloved child deep within us.
The Rage/Grief type fits best into the scapegoat or addict role. This does not mean that we can not attempt to be heroes or co-dependents, only that we will always feel a little inadequate in these roles. For women in 3HO, the rowdiness of the scapegoat and addict roles have been seen by many to be unfeminine and ungraceful.
I learned to fake a certain amount of the hero's patience and the co-dependent's devotedness by strong dependence on the Grace of God meditation which I practiced, at least twice a day, for three full years. I didn't fit my pictures of what the Grace of God was like, and I didn't fit other Sikh's pictures of Her either! I therefore believed that if I did this meditation long enough I would become more like that sweet and gentle Goddess, that is, more like a hero, less like a scapegoat. Actually one morning, somewhere soon after the third year anniversary of this practice, I leaped straight up in the middle of my mantra recitation yelling " Holy shit, I really AM the Grace of God!"
Clearly thousands of repetitions of the Grace of God mantra had not changed my nature, but had miraculously succeeded in changing my pictures of the Mother God. I never practiced that meditation regularly ever again, or did I need to, having discovered that for me the Grace of God incorporates the Goddess Kali, who is always, in scapegoat fashion, stirring up trouble.
So the angry scapegoat is merely my personality. Underneath I have been forced to meet a deeper aspect of my psyche, a part of me that my rebellious and fiery nature work hard to protect and avoid- my shadow if you will. I know that I am approaching this self when the tears begin to flow. Not just dampness of eyes , mind you, but great sobbing buckets of tears, for my secret self lives in a Sea of Sorrow.
Many scapegoats grow up to become addicts. Having set out to reform the world they become the leaders of the new order. Many early male directors of 3HO ashrams were these scapegoats turned addicts, rebels turn to tyrants.
As in any dysfunctional family, these rage-over-grief types were forever ranting and raving, praising and blaming, and, at times, participating in addictive behavior around money, sex and power. Their inner circle of co-dependents and those Keep Up Ji heroes, who were doing most of the labor, used to run around "working on themselves" in an effort to gain status and acceptance as much as spiritual insight.
There have been times down through the years where 3HO has seemed to me to be just like a baboon troop complete with Dominate Male #1, Male #2, #3, #4 and so on down the pecking order.
Where would 3HO be without its Keep Up Jis? So many times in my Sikh walk, after letting my scapegoat ways get the better of me once again, I would seek out the soothing auras of those grief-on-top-of-rage heroes. They would sit me down, dose me with Yogi Tea and gently lecture me on the fine-points of dharmic living. Newly inspired I would once again attempt the endless job of disciplining myself.
Grief/Rage personalities survived the dysfunction of their childhood families by assuming the role of stabilizing adult. They learned to put their needs to the side and take care of everyone else first. Eventually they hoped that all this "selfless service" would lead to their being blessed and acknowledged. Of course it rarely did. In fact often their scapegoat sisters and brother got more attention with their report cards full of Fs than the heroes got no matter how many As they earned.
On the surface grief-on-top-of-rage types are calm and often serious. Their ability to put the good of the family and organization above their own needs give them a saintly, slightly martyred expression and when things go wrong, they get sad and depressed as they try, once again, to discern what next sacrifice is required of them.
Any anger, rage or jealousy that our hero has when faced with having to be the one, once again, who makes all the sacrifice is firmly repressed. Eventually a pit of rage, carefully protected and hidden, develops in the bellies of these peaceful souls.
Although there is nobody more taken for granted, and often times used, than the hero, the service position does, in fact, offer some hope of political and social power. Instead of serving in the kitchen, it is possible to become the assistant of the addict. This, again, is the role of co-dependent.
Co-dependents usually run the life support systems of the organization like creating the schedule and controlling the money and constructing the public image. They do this to support the addict as well as the organization or family, so when the addict, in typical unpredictable style, decides to bomb the calendar or raid the cash box, it is the job of the co-dependent to patch up or, if need be, cover up the addict's activity.
Thus co-dependents, though powerful, have lost most of their individuality. They sell their souls to the organization becoming "company men and women". Because of this, they can feel completely trapped in their positions- often so entangled in the web of politics with the family or organization that they are at a loss to know how to free themselves. When co-dependents do break free it almost always causes a scandal. It is not easy on a family or an organization when the person who has been holding everything up and making everyone feels secure just walks away and lets everything crash behind them.
Easy or not, this is the healthy step that co-dependents must make toward healing dysfunctionality in 3HO and elsewhere. Co-dependents need to remember that for them, falling apart is falling together.
There is nothing more shocking in 3HO (especially to other co-dependents) than watching some formerly model 3HOer access their rage. You start to hear rumors "So and so is negative." and you know that this person is on her or his way out of the dharma. Meanwhile we make every effort to avoid this person because we fear that "negativity" is contagious.
I predict that we are going to see more and more of our straightest Sikh friends get "negative"- or more likely yet become fully raging volcanoes!
Many people in 3HO have spent years being good Sikhs, or at least trying very hard to be good Sikhs. They have sacrificed, they have served, and they have done the practice to the best of their abilities. I actually know 3HOers who have never had a marital dispute because they have called in Yogi Bhajan to mediate every conflict. Though most of us haven't gone to such extremes, we have all put 3HO first; freely letting Yogi Bhajan dictate our diets, our sex lives, our clothes, our choice of partners, our children and our livelihoods.
For most heroes and co-dependent there eventually comes a day when they simply get tired. Having given of themselves so much over the years, they come to realize that they gave away everything and they are no longer who they want to be. All the dogma, philosophy, as wells as the lies and fantasies, turn to dust in their mouths. For co-dependents the burden of keeping everything under control, the burden of constantly soothing and serving the addict(s) in their lives and for some, the growing guilt over the less than righteous means that they may have employed to manipulate others, becomes just too heavy a burden to carry anymore. Instead of feeling liberated, they begin to feel used, conned and betrayed and these feelings access their rage.
It is this dynamic that we see when we watch former pillars of 3HO become, seemingly overnight, enemies of 3HO. Whether we like it or not, feel comfortable with it or not, 3HO has many heroes and co-dependents in its ranks and when they begin to awaken to reality and heal, the covert rage within them is going to become overt rage. So hang on- it is going to be a bumpy ride.
Though grief and rage are both very painful emotions and can be equally destructive and redemptive, the main emotional taboo within a dysfunction family or organization is expressing rage. This is not so surprising when we observe that raging people usually break not just the taboo against being angry, but every other one on our list as well, and they do it loudly. It is just too much for the family or organization to handle the role change, the demanding questions, and the threat to the addict/co-dependent bond, all at once. So angry people in 3HO get shunned.
Addicts and scapegoats getting in touch with their grief usually get shamed and ridiculed instead and they disappear too, going off to tend their wounds.
For whatever reasons, most of us in 3HO have visualized a rather limited, passionless, and, lets face it, boring picture of what a Sikh is. If we continue to let that picture dictate the content of 3HO rather than reality, or let ourselves be shunned when we don't fit that picture, eventually all of us will leave this dharma as we come to see how stilted and deadening this black and white photo of 3HO is fast becoming.
Copyright © Rick Ross.