Normally we have so little control over our emotions – and we feel our vulnerability as a tight knot in our chests. People talk about needing armor, particularly around their chests, to protect themselves. Even bugs have shells to protect themselves. But no physical armor can protect us from what disturbs us inside. We cannot hide ourselves in a box in order to insulate ourselves from our own minds. The real protection we have is the practice of nonviolence.
In Tibetan, the term for nonviolence is tseme zopa. Zopa is translated as patience, tolerance, or endurance. Inherent in zopa is a feeling of positive disgust, or renunciation, that comes from knowing the negative results of anger. This disgust is similar to the disgust we might experience from eating the same greasy food again and again, day after day. Through constantly getting burnt by our own aggression, we will lose our taste for anything that feeds it and instead turn towards the virtues of practicing patience. With this kind of intelligence, we can endure anything. But more important, as we establish patience, we cultivate merit in this life and the next
It’s good to be a little afraid of aggression. Many think that being motivated by fear is not good. But we all get insurance, and we pay our premiums! If we are not afraid of tickets or getting in an accident, we might go through red lights. But due to our fear, we restrain ourselves. Studying other realms as described in the Buddhist scriptures informs us of the future consequences of our actions. For example, those who have a propensity for killing and harming others experience a paranoid hellish existence. However, we don’t need to go to such extremes to observe the cause and effect of aggression. We see it in ourselves, those around us, and even in movies and television.