I copied it from a Pdf file
Buddhist Era 2549 Vesak First Quarter – Friday May 05, 2006
by Ven. Boralesgamuwe Pemaratana
We are all familiar with the human emotions of love, hatred, jealousy, anxiety and so on. Of these anger is a common and powerful emotional experience which everyone feels from time to time. Before we see how to overcome our anger let us see what makes us angry. Generally our minds are dominated by a selfish ego and the need to have everything going our own way. When we feel that our selfish wishes are being frustrated and we are not getting our own way, we may respond by becoming angry. For example, we see many outbursts of rage for various reasons. In our homes husbands and wives express anger towards each other for seemingly minor reasons, such as when they have differences of opinion and ideas. Brothers and sisters may even argue due to disturbing noises of radio or television. The news on television and in the newspapers tells us how labourers cried angrily over their rights.
In Buddhism anger is regarded as the most dangerous and destructive of all the negative emotions. Why is this? As I mentioned, our examples show that the way and manner in which anger is expressed can affect ourselves and affect others as well. So this is something about which we ought to be concerned. It is due to anger that we do most kinds of unwholesome acts of mind, speech or body, therefore it is important for us to learn how to overcome our anger.
Cause of anger
Anger is described as an intense feeling of irritation, displeasure or dissatisfaction. Anger harms and can even destroy us. We may have experienced how, when anger takes over our thoughts, its force can bring devastation to our faith, our family, our friends, our neighbours, ourselves, and so on. The harm it causes, it always regretted later. Some people believe that it is all right to get angry under certain circumstances. This may be because things are not turning out the way we would like, such as your boss will not give you the raise he promised, your child behaves badly and ignores your request, or your spouse does not listen to you. When we give expression to anger it results in hurting others by violent and aggressive speech and actions. Sometimes it is impossible to fulfil all our desires or to stop unwanted things happening to us. So we need to find different ways of relating to our frustrated desires and our unwanted occurrences in a positive fashion.
Transform our anger
If we are honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we do experience anger, then we can become motivated to guard against our anger and deal with it in a humane manner. Firstly, we have to understand that the primary roots of our anger lie within ourselves. We all have seeds of unkindness and anger. So when anger develops in our own minds it is with the training of the mind that we can find its cure. We need to understand the nature of the angry thoughts in order to deal with them skilfully.
We may say that someone else has made us angry, but this is not so. When we check our own mind, we find that hatred, jealousy and anger still sit there. It is the seeds of unkindness and anger in our own minds that are the causes of our reaction.
When someone speaks unpleasant words to us – we may feel resentment. If we react angrily, not only will our mind and body become distressed, but we find that anger is returned to us and this increases our stress which creates a destructive cycle in our lives. But if we can gradually learn how to react calmly we begin to find ways and means to make ourselves and others happy and to develop the wholesome qualities of loving kindness, compassion and equanimity. There is a variety of antidotes to anger, such as mindfulness, patience, tolerance and forgiveness. A positive management of our anger means not suppressing it. First, we acknowledge that it is our own anger, not something given to us by somebody else. Then we do not ignore it, nor do we let it build up into hostility. It is necessary to refrain from saying or doing anything that might cause further upset and increase anger. We should think about the importance of guarding ourselves against an angry reaction. Then we see how this powerful negative feeling affects and hurts not only ourselves, but also our families, colleagues and others. We need to be patient and observe the anger dispassionately, without reacting in a hasty negative fashion nor allowing the impulsive tendency to build up and explode. Before reacting angrily we must examine the hurt, the disappointment and the pain that are arising within us. Thus we will gain an opportunity to transform undesirable feelings and thoughts. This gives insight into a proper way to open our minds and transform our lives.
In the teachings of the Buddha the two most important qualities we can develop to deal with anger are mindfulness (sati) and wise attention (yoniso manasikara). Mindfulness means to be continuously aware of what is going on in our minds. With mindfulness, we can see anger as soon as it starts to arise, then we can move skillfully to nip it in the bud, before it has time to develop and turn into a raging fire. So, when we realise anger is arising, we simply observe it instead of giving into it. We do not react. This is why mindfulness is regarded in Buddhism as a powerful weapon which helps us to weaken our anger.
Then wise attention helps us to bear-in-mind the dangers of giving way to anger and to understand the advantages of dealing with anger skillfully. Thus we can develop patience. We can then decide on a course of action that will defuse the situation. When we notice the arising of anger it begins to calm down and does not take control of our minds. When we are irritated or angry, we just recognise it. Just knowing it in a non-violent way, we look at our anger with compassion. So when we observe anger with compassion and care our irritation does not then develop into anger and stress but it will disappear. With mindfulness and wise attention we can weaken angry feelings and develop loving kindness.
In this way, calming our negative thoughts instead of increasing them and getting more angry and frustrated, allows calmness to arise. When we develop calmness we are then able to look at the negative thoughts and able to transform them. In the Dhammapada the Buddha says:-
“A well-disciplined mind brings happiness”.
In the Path of Purification, Buddhaghosa goes into details about how we can guard our compassion, allowing our minds to free ourselves from resentment. To cultivate calm compassion and a stable attitude of mind means that we must develop loving-kindness (Metta). When we develop loving kindness we cannot generate anger towards others, instead we develop the sincere wish for the welfare of all around us, without exception.
Firstly, we develop loving kindness towards ourselves, recognizing both our positive and negative qualities. We repeat to ourselves, “May I be happy and free from suffering; may I be free from anger; May I be free from ill will; May I be free from enmity.” Then we extend these kind thoughts towards someone dear to us, for example, our parents, teachers, friends, also respectable and reverential people and to those whom we love. Finally, we extend these feelings towards people for when we have no particularly strong feelings of either attraction or aversion. We need to start with ourselves this because we cannot give to others what we do not already have in ourselves. This practical exercise calms our negative thoughts and at the same time generates love and compassion towards all beings. This practice enables us to forgive any hurt or harm others have caused to us.
Another way to transform our anger, is to recall the positive, wholesome characteristics of the person you are angry with. No matter how annoying you may consider the person to be, he or she must have some good qualities which you can respect. If the person’s speech is out of control, but not his bodily actions, we should focus on his good bodily actions, and ignore his verbal actions. If the person’s speech is kindly, even though his actions of body and mind are not, we remember his kind words. If someone generally has fine mental qualities, but may act due to circumstance with poor control of body and speech, we should develop compassion by recalling that the kammic
How to overcome anger
Buddhist Era 2549 Vesak First Quarter – Friday May 05, 2006 consequences of that person’s behaviour will be unwholesome. He is creating the causes for himself to experience great suffering sometime in the future. We can also think of the negative qualities or the dangerous aspects of ourselves getting angry. By getting angry, we are polluting our minds. If someone has hurt you and you react with anger, it is possible that you may make the other person suffer, but it is definite that you will bring suffering on yourself.
Another way of transforming our anger is to review the ownership of our deeds. Reflect on the karmic consequences of unwholesome actions and on how this brings unhappiness now and in the future. If someone “A” is getting angry with another “B” then “B” should reflect that “B” is experiencing the kammic consequences of some unwholesome action that “B” had previously performed. By “B” allowing anger to arise in his own mind, “B” is performing an unwholesome kammic action which will, sooner or later, cause him to suffer the consequences of his action in due time. The Buddha said: Reflect thus, “I am the owner of my deeds, heir of my deeds. Having deeds as my origin, having deeds as my kin, having deeds as my refuge; I will become the heir of whatever deeds I commit,” thus each unwholesome action only bring suffering on oneself. By getting angry one is poisoning and polluting one’s own mind and this unwholesome state will result in an unwholesome karmic consequences. The Buddha gave many discourses in the Dhammapada on overcoming anger.
He encourages us to “Conquer anger by love.”
We should not get angry thinking, “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me.” When we have such thoughts, hatred will not cease.’ Sometimes when there is a stimulus for anger we think we must react angrily otherwise we feel defeated or cowardly, but we should try to overcome such negative thoughts and feelings. Instead we should develop positive thoughts and understanding towards those who are wishing you harm in any way.
It is always possible to overcome anger by patience. When patience is present in our mind, it is impossible for angry or unhappy thoughts to gain a foothold. This is a statement made by the Buddha concerning patience, “Even if bandits brutally cut limb from limb with a twohandled saw, you must not have any hate in your heart for your abuser. If you did have such hate you would not be adhering to my teaching. Train yourselves in this way: ‘Unsullied shall our hearts remain. No evil word shall escape our lips. Kind and compassionate, with loving heart, harbouring no ill-will shall we abide, enfolding even these bandits with thoughts of loving-kindness” To repay any angry man by developing anger oneself is worse than being the cause of the original anger.
Let us summarise the main points on how to transform our anger. The first step is to understand how destructive it is, and then to develop the motivation to diffuse it. Secondly, we need to remember the antidotes such as mindfulness, wise attention, tolerance and forgiveness. Thirdly, we can reflect on techniques to overcome anger and to free ourselves from resentment. Most importantly we need to have patience and compassion towards ourselves and others. Also the following should be practised.
- The practice of metta
- Reminding oneself of the danger of getting angry
- Acknowledging the karmic consequences of anger
- Remembering the other person’s good qualities
- Our kinship with all – all are our family, whether friend or foe.
By overcoming anger and by developing loving kindness and peace in our minds, we help to establish peace in the world. Let us rejoice in the victory over our mind. By developing and maintaining peace, love and compassion we become decent citizens contributing not only to the place where we are born, or where we reside, but to the whole world.