The Poison of Anger.

Via on Sep 17, 2013

anger fear relationships

You will not be punished for your anger. You will be punished by your anger.”

~ the Buddha

Anger happens to all of us. Even the greatest among experience anger sometimes; regardless of how much we have cultivated love and compassion, we are still human.

In Buddhism, anger is one of the three poisons, along with greed and ignorance. The three poisons are the primary cause of our suffering. Striving to overcome our anger is essential to Buddhist practice. In Buddhism, we don’t really think of anger as ‘righteous’ or ‘justifiable’. It’s important to remember that our anger hurts us as much as it hurts whoever the target of our anger is, if not more. Anger is nothing more than an impediment to our inner peace. We might think, “this person deserves to be faced with my anger.”

But that shouldn’t be our line of thinking—instead, we should be thinking, “Is our anger helpful?”

So, we can strive to overcome our anger, but of course we will get angry sometimes, everyone does and we shouldn’t feel bad for it.

But how do we deal with our anger?

First, admit you’re angry. Admit that your anger is clouding your judgment and impacting your ability to deal with whatever situation is occurring. Anger can only get in the way and escalate situations. It never helps. Thinking anger is sometimes helpful is dangerous. Buddhism teaches mindfulness. Being mindful of our own emotions is part of mindfulness. We don’t suppress a negative emotion or deny it; instead we acknowledge it and try to recognize that it isn’t helpful and let it go.

It’s also important to understand that our anger is created by ourselves.

Anger doesn’t happen to us, our minds create it. We tend to think that someone else causes us to get angry, but it’s our own mind that makes us angry. We do have some control over how we respond to situations.

As Buddhists, our practice is to cultivate kindness and compassion for all beings that is free from attachment. “All beings” includes individuals who make us angry.

For this reason, when we experience anger, we should take care not to act on it to hurt others and ourselves. We also must take care not to cling to our anger. If we hold onto our anger over time, it is only more damaging to us.

So, how do we let our anger go?

One thing we can do it cultivate patience. We can sit still with our anger and try to release it. Our meditation practice helps us strengthen our patience for this purpose. 

It’s hard not to act on our anger sometimes.  It takes strength to acknowledge that anger is not helpful and it takes discipline to let it go.

The Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like picking up a hot coal to throw at someone.”

Even if we succeed at hurting the other person, we are hurting ourselves as well.

Is it ever really worth it?

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel 'Heng Xue' Scharpenburg is an authorized teacher in the Ch'an Guild of Huineng, in the lineage of Ch'an Master Xu Yun. He's the writer of 'Notes From a Buddhist Mystic'. He continues to study under Buddhist teachers in several different traditions. He created a meditation program for children at the Rime Buddhist Center in Kansas City and leads workshops and retreats throughout the Kansas City area. He writes a blog at faroutzen.wordpress.com   You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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One Response to “The Poison of Anger.”

  1. JohnH says:

    It might be easier to "let go" of anger when we realize it is part of a healing process and not just some lone/looney emotion. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross recognized it as part of the grieving process: denial (shock), bargaining (resistance), anger (reaction), depression (acknowledgement) and acceptance (adaptation). The enhanced energy of anger can help us to propel our way through the depression stage toward acceptance and compassion. Jung said, "Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering." Embrace anger as part of the grieving cycle and have faith the end point will be an enhanced acceptance of life and a broader feeling of compassion. By avoiding anger you only prolong neurotic suffering and avoid the peace of acceptance and compassion.

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