Work With Anger. . .
We live in an age where we’re told to express our anger, but Buddha would disagree. Acting out on anger makes it easier to do so again in the future, leading to a never-ending cycle. Buddha advises us to neither bottle up nor let our emotions overflow, but to analyze them and come to understand the faulty thinking behind anger.
The 8th-century Buddhist scholar Shantideva described anger as the most extreme negative force, one with the capability of destroying the good we’ve worked so hard to create. Think about that – how anger can destroy friendship and trust that might have taken decades to build up. Ultimately, anger is more dangerous than most of the weapons we fear.
We’re all in this together. Being angry at situations, others, or ourselves is not going to make anything better. Other people say and do stuff we might not like because – yes – their lives are difficult too. This kind of thinking can radically transform our perspective. Even if each of us might seem to be the center of our own universe, that doesn’t mean that everything has to – or ever will – go exactly the way we want.
Patience is often seen by many as a sign of weakness, where you let others walk all over you and get away with whatever they want. The reality, however, couldn’t be more different. It’s easy to simply scream and shout when we are upset and it is difficult to stay calm and control our emotions. But following our feelings wherever they lead us does not make us heroes – it makes us weak. So next time you’re on the verge of screaming your head off, draw your sword of patience and cut the head off your own anger instead.
Buddhism often teaches us to do precisely the opposite of what we’d normally do. When we’re angry with someone, our urge is get revenge. The result? We’re left just as, if not more, miserable than before. It seems counterintuitive, but doing the opposite gives the opposite result: the path to happiness. It sounds crazy, but think about taking your object of anger as your teacher. If we want to become better – that is, more patient, more loving, kinder, happier people – then we need to practice. In this way, the person we’re angry with becomes extremely precious, giving us the opportunity to really practice patience.
It doesn’t matter how many times we repeat “I won’t get angry”; without actual effort, we’ll never achieve the peace of mind we all wish for. The above points aren’t just words – they’re actual tools we can use to free ourselves from our frustration, anger and sadness. With practice, any of us can do it.
Peace and Love, Jim