Urban Dharma Newsletter... March 9, 2004
This Issue: Buddhism and Anger
2. Transforming Anger ...Lama
3. Anger Management --Buddhist Style ...Jeffrey Po
4. HANDLING ANGER - APPLYING ANTIDOTES ...kalachakranet.org
5. Temple/Center/Website: Los Angeles County Coroner
- Gift Shop
6. Book/CD/Movie: Working With
Anger ...by Thubten Chodron
beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.
Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated
simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
Anger - a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward
some real or supposed grievance
Transforming Anger ...Lama
the Dalai Lama gets angry. The trick is what you do with it.
What did the Buddha teach about anger, specifically righteous
anger? Is any anger acceptable in Buddhism?
The Dalai Lama recently answered the question, "Is there
a positive form of anger?" by saying that righteous anger
is a "defilement" or "afflictive emotion"--a
Buddhist term translated from the Sanskrit word klesha--that
must be eliminated if one seeks to achieve nirvana. He added
that although anger might have some positive effects in terms
of survival or moral outrage, he did not accept anger of any
kind as a virtuous emotion nor aggression as constructive behavior.
in general teaches that anger is a destructive emotion and that
there is no good example of it. The Buddha taught that three
basic kleshas are at the root of samsara (bondage, illusion)
and the vicious cycle of rebirth. These are greed, hatred, and
delusion--also translatable as attachment, anger, and ignorance.
They bring us confusion and misery rather than peace, happiness,
and fulfillment. It is in our own self-interest to purify and
the tantric teachings of Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism), it is
said that all the kleshas or afflictive emotions have their
own sacred power, their own particular intelligence, wisdom,
and logic. The late Tibetan teacher Chogyam Tryungpa Rinpoche
often taught that five kleshas (in the Tibetan tradition, they
are greed, hatred, delusion, pride, and jealousy) are in essence
five wisdoms. The wisdom side of anger, for example, is discriminating
can this be? Anger makes us sharp and quick to criticize, but
anger also helps us see what's wrong. Our feelings and emotions
are actually serving like intelligence agents, bringing in news
from the field of our experience. We should not dismiss, ignore,
or repress them.
Tibetan tantric iconography, moreover, not all the Buddhas and
meditational deities are pacific. Some are surrounded by flames
and wear fierce masks symbolizing the shadow side of our psyches.
Yet it is always taught that the wrathful buddhas and "dharma
protectors" have peaceful Buddha at their hearts. Perhaps
this is connected to the modern, Western notion that righteous
anger can help drive compassionate action to redress injustices
in the world.
in our increasingly uncivil, fast-paced, and competitive society,
there are plenty of contributing causes of anger. Violence in
the media, permissiveness about expressing oneself, accelerating
change, and lack of an ethos of personal responsibility are
coupled with a growing sense of entitlement and dearth of family
and community connection.
the Buddha said that no one can make us angry if the
seed of anger is not in our hearts. The truth is, we all
have some anger in us. Even the Dalai Lama says he gets angry
as does the Vietnamese Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat
HanhThe difference is that these two sages know what to do with
their anger. Intense angry feelings don't automatically become
unhealthy or destructive or drive negative actions.
Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, I believe, have learned to constructively
channel the energy that can turn into anger. Through opening
the heart to that energy rather than repressing and suppressing
it they have learned how to recognize its essential emptiness
and transitory nature, and then transform and release it, or
direct it creatively.
ghosts of the past which follow us into the present also belong
to the present moment," says Thich Nhat Hanh. "To
observe them deeply, recognize their nature and transform them,
is to transform the past."
I believe that anger is just an emotion. We needn’t be
afraid of it or judge it too harshly. Emotions occur quickly;
moods linger longer. These temporary states of mind are conditioned,
and therefore can be reconditioned. Through self-discipline
and practice, negativity can be transformed into positivity
and freedom and self-mastery achieved.
clue to anger is that a lot of it stems from fear, and it manifests
in the primitive "fight or flight" response. I have
noticed that when I am feeling angry, asking myself, "Where
and how do I hurt? What am I afraid of?" helps clarify
things and mitigate my tempestuous reaction. After cooling down,
I ask myself, "What would Buddha do; What would Love do
in this situation?" This helps me soothe my passions, be
more creative and proactive instead of reactive. In that state,
I can transcend blame, resentment, and bitterness.
Thich Nhat Hanh has written, "Our attitude is to take care
of anger. We don’t suppress or hate it, or run away from
it. We just breathe gently and cradle our anger in our arms
with the utmost tenderness."
"embracing" of our anger is an important part of the
practice of lovingkindness: learning to accept and love even
what we don't like. The Dalai Lama has said: "My religion
is kindness." The cultivation of lovingkindness is an inner
attitude that embraces all in a way that allows no separation
between self, events, and others, and honors the Buddha-nature
or core of goodness at the heart of one and all.
is the root of nonviolence, the antidote to anger and aggression,
and the root of mindfulness practice, in that it requires the
same non-judging, non-grasping calmness and clarity that is
at the heart of Buddhist meditation practice.
anger surges up in you, try cultivating patience, lovingkindness,
and forbearance. When hatred rears its head, cultivate forgiveness
and equanimity, try to empathize with the other and see things
through there eyes for a moment. If you are moved towards aggression,
try to breathe, relax, and quiet the agitated mind and strive
for restraint and moderation, remembering that others are just
like you. They want and need happiness; they are trying to avoid
pain, harm, and suffering, too.
following is a very simple strategy to apply in the moment that
First, "I know that I’m angry--furious, livid, etc."
Breathe in deeply, and while breathing out say, "I send
compassion towards my anger."
this mantra, and observe how it magically interrupts the habitual
pattern of unskillful, thoughtless reactivity. This practice
can provide--on the spot--a moment of mindfulness and sanity.
It helps us take better care of ourselves and heads off negative
behaviors we know we don’t want to perpetuate.
Anger Management --Buddhist Style ...Jeffrey Po
other human emotions of love, patience, hatred, jealousy, anxiety
and so on, anger is a normal emotional experience also. It is
described as an intense feeling of irritation, displeasure or
dissatisfaction. Anger by itself is not something to be feared
about but the way and manner it is expressed can affect others
and us. This is something that we ought to be concerned about.
Lord Buddha Gotama, recognized the emotions of anger in humans
and He had made remarks in this direction:
are three types of people in the world. What three? One who
is like carving on a rock, one who is like scratching on the
ground and one who is like writing on the water. What sort of
person is like carving on the rock? Imagine a certain person
who is always getting angry and his anger lasts long, jut as
carving on a rock is not soon worn off by wind, water or lapse
of time. What sort of person is like scratching on the ground?
Imagine a certain person who is always getting angry but his
anger does not last long, just as scratching on the ground is
soon worn off by wind, water and lapse of time. And what sort
of person is like writing on the water? Imagine a certain person
who, even though spoken to harshly, sharply, roughly, is easily
reconciled and becomes agreeable and friendly, just as writing
on the water soon disappears".
is therefore inherent in humans. Though a natural expression
of emotion, Buddhists consider it as "akusala" (unwholesome,
unskillful) action. Buddhists do not subscribe to notions such
as "righteous anger" or "justifiable anger".
Anger lasts for a period of time and with varying depths and
intensities. Anger when directed at others shows up as aggression
and when turned inwards towards us leads to frustration, irritation,
and anxiety and eventually to depression. Both situations are
surely "dukkha" (unsatisfactory). It is therefore
looked upon a destructive emotional expressions.
originates from the mind and often gives rise to other unwholesome
(akusala) tendencies such as malice, hatred (dosa), ill will
(vyapada), revenge. In Buddhism, anger is taken to be synonymous
to hatred (dosa) which is one of the three unwholesome roots
(mulas) that has to be eradicated if one wishes to attain the
state of Nibbanic bliss. It is a defilement (kilesa) of the
mental faculties. Its long-term effects are usually detrimental
to oneself and others. As a mind-force, anger arises from two
sources - external and internal to the person. External situations
and issues (arammana) such as those from the speeches, behaviors
and body languages of others, received through the 5 sense-doors
(panca dvara) stimulate the arising of the anger emotions. Internal
stimulations of anger can arise from thinking and ideations
about those situations and issues be they from the present,
the past or even the future. From whatever way(s) anger arises
and in whatever form, it is mostly destructive and seldom constructive
anger originates from the mind, it can also be removed if the
mind can be trained in methods to firstly manage it and finally
to remove it. In psychology, the usual counselling technique
employed is the Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) or Cognitive
Therapy. This involves the slow process of modifying and altering
the mindset, attitude and worldview of the person. It means
redrawing the mind map so that judgments passed and decisions
derived at, do not cause the stimulation of anger. It also means
correcting any cognitive distortions that are held.
assist the redrawing of the mind map the following pointers
can be helpful:
Select a Role-model:
Buddhists the excellent role-model is the Lord Buddha Gotama.
Just be familiar with His life story and His constant admonishment
for peace, calmness and tranquility. Read the Jataka stories
concerning His past births - for instance when as the Bodhisatta,
born as Samkhapala, a serpent, maintained perfect peace and
tranquility of mind though He was beaten and pierced with sharp
instruments (Jataka story 524). Again, inspite of the many attempts
by Devadatta to create a schism within the Sangha, He did not
harbor any thoughts of malice and ill-will against the former.
If this selection is uncomfortable then a choice of a bhikkhu
or bhikkhuni or any other that one has affinity with is helpful.
the Lord Buddha Gotama is the perfect role-model is undeniable.
The Dhammapada verse 387 shares:
sun glows by the day; the moon shines by the night: in his amour
the warrior glows.
In meditation shines the Brahman.
But all day and night, shines with radiance the Awakened One"
times anger arises unconsciously and instinctively. It simply
flares up. The cultivation of the state of mindfulness (sati)
is considered as the best guard against anger and all other
unwholesome states of the mind. Mindfulness (sati) is "pure
awareness"; the presence of mind; realizing and knowing
clearly any happenings at that moment of time. Usually one is
unaware that anger has arisen until after a period of time.
By then the angry person is all red in the face; feeling hot;
lousy; huffing and puffing and the mind is speeding like a run-away
train. Persistent meditative practices to note the arising of
anger can eventually lead one to detect the arising of anger
before it arises (and erupts). The moment anger arises one need
to quickly recognize it and perhaps say to oneself, "Aha
- anger, anger". Also it is worthwhile to note that Right
Effort (Samma Vayama), the sixth factor in the Noble Eightfold
now, O Monks, is Right Effort?
the disciple rouses his will to avoid evil,
demeritorous things that have not yet arisen...
the disciple rouses his will to overcome evil,
demeritorous things that have already arisen...
clearly shows that with mindfulness, one can really detect any
sort of unwanted or unwholesome thinking that is about to arise
and through sheer training, curb it.
mind can be trained to substitute emotional expressions. Constant
recitation of short "catch phrases" is embedded in
the mind. Habit eventually forms to become instinctive responses.
Here the Buddhist concept of Loving-kindness (metta) comes handy.
Short phrases connected to it are useful substitute. Whenever
anger is about to arise, those phrases spring instinctively
to the mind and replace the anger expressions. The recommended
all beings be free from harm and danger
May all beings be free from mental sufferings
May all beings be free from physical sufferings
May all beings take care of themselves happily".
one might simply recite again and again to oneself:
all beings be well and happy".
Looking into ourselves:
one saying goes, "It takes two hands to clap". Anger
situations are usually provoked, though on most occasions parties
are unaware of those provocations. As much as others are blamed,
sometimes upon reflection we share some blame also. According
to the Lord Buddha Gotama, no one is blameless.
O Atula, is an old saying;
it is not one of today only:
they blame those who sit silent,
they blame those who speak too much.
speaking little too they blame.
never was, there never will be, nor does there exist now, a
person who is wholly blamed or wholly praised"
Think of Harmful effects on yourself:
expressions of anger affect everyone. They are unpleasant, distasteful
and wretched. So, before an outburst, just consider the aftermath.
Why get into it the first place? The Ven. Buddhaghosa reasons:
an enemy has hurt you in his own domain, why should you annoy
yourself and hurt your mind in your own domain?
someone, to annoy, provokes you to do some evil act, why allow
anger to arise and thus do exactly as he wants you to do?"
Live and Let live:
of death. Consider that one day all will die. Life is short.
Why go walking around with thunder and lightning above our heads?
Would it not be better and beneficial for all if more congeniality
and pleasantness ensues? Thinking is this manner one could perhaps
cool down and decide against getting angry. The Lord Buddha
in the world is unpredictable and uncertain.
Life is difficult, short and fraught with suffering."
the fruit is ripe, it may drop early in the morning.
In the same way, one who is born may die at any moment".
Adopt Forgiving Nature:
is the end product of anger. To stop hating, the expression
of love is the substitute. To love is to forgive. Ignore the
faults and mistakes of others. Do not look for motives to justify
one's anger. Just forgive and be relieved from the situation.
The very act strengthens both the spiritual and moral character
of the forgiver. Once again the Lord Buddha Gotama remarks:
three things the wise person may be known. What three? He sees
a shortcoming as it is. When he sees it, he tries to correct
it. And when another acknowledges a shortcoming, the wise one
forgive it as he should".
Nikaya I - 103
The Law of Kamma:
are familiar with the workings of the Law of Kamma. It is one
of the 5 Niyamas (natural laws). As such it is worthwhile to
remember that one is the owner and heir of one's deeds. They
will surely ripen one day either in this life or in future lives.
Therefore be wary of one's actions and be wise to remember:
to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purify one's mind, this
is the teaching of the Buddhas".
said thus far, would it mean that all expressions of anger are
to be entirely removed and forever eradicated from one's nature
and personality? Living in the modern society such directions
may backfire and result in stress and anxiety for the individual
instead. Today, it is recognized that "anger" consciously
deployed to reinforce another emotional expression such as being
stern (mother chiding her child) or to discipline (instructor
bellowing at recruits) is healthy as it reveals the emotions
of the "angry person". The other party is able to
follow-up the cue. The episode ends. However uncontrollable
and prolonged outbursts; fuming inside; unreasonable yelling
and shouting; challenging others (or oneself); instinctive flaring
up - they constitute "angry" emotional responses and
expressions that are considered unhealthy mental stances that
ought to be recognized, restrained and finally removed.
HANDLING ANGER - APPLYING ANTIDOTES ...kalachakranet.org
is a summary of various approaches to anger. They obviously
will be most efficient when used with a calm and concentrated
mind, either during meditation or at the moment you realize
that something needs to be done about your anger. Obviously,
the problem during an actual difficult situation is to have
a calm and concentrated mind - a regular meditation practice
can be of great help then! One of the best ways to really make
progress with understanding and changing the functioning of
our own mind is to try out analytical meditation, combined with
1 - Patience.
is the main antidote to anger. As common wisdom says: just count
to 100... During this time, any of the below methods can be
effective. The most effective method will depend on the actual
situation. Especially in our age of rush and intense change,
patience may not be seen as a positive quality, but take a minute
to think impatience can easily give rise to a general feeling
2 - Realisation of the Noble Truth of Suffering.
one understands that problems and frustration is a basic fact
of life, it can reduce our impatience with our own unrealistic
expectations. In other words: nothing is perfect, so don't expect
of my belief that things are or can be perfect, it is easy to
3 - Understanding Karma.
explained in the page on Karma, the real reasons for our problems
are our own actions, which are in turn caused by our own negative
states of mind. If someone makes us angry, it has a sobering
effect if we dare to think that the real reasons for this situation
are our own past actions, and the person is just a circumstance
for our own karma to ripen.
4 - Changing or Accepting.
we can find ourselves in two types of unpleasant situations:
ones we can change and ones we cannot change.
If I can change the situation, I should do something about it
instead of getting all worked-up and angry. Not acting in such
a situation will cause frustration in the end.
If I cannot change the situation, I will have to accept it.
If I don't, it will only lead to frustration and a negative
and unpleasant state of mind, which will make the situation
some reasons unclear to me, Westerners (including myself) appear
to have big problems with accepting unpleasant situations which
we cannot change. Could this be a result of impatience (a form
of anger) with imperfection (an unrealistic expectation)?
consider the wisdom in the following remarks (from an online
discussion - forgot the writer.):
does this effect my Buddhist practice?
These reported events are like an arrow shot at my heart but
it lands at my feet.
I choose not to bend over, pick it up, and stab myself with
5 - Realistic Analysis.
example: someone accuses me of something.
If it is true, I apparently made a mistake, so I should listen
If it is untrue, the other person makes a mistake. So what?
Nobody is perfect. I also make mistakes, and it is all too easy
to label the other as "enemy", in which case a helpful
discussion or forgiving becomes difficult.
may also be worthwhile searching for the real underlying reason
of the problem. Of special importance is to evaluate one's own
role in the situation: my own fears, insecurity, being very
unfriendly, or not being blameless (like leaving home much too
late for an appointment and blaming the 5 minutes delay of the
- Realisation of Emptiness.
summarise it briefly, if one deeply realises the emptiness of
inherent existence or interdependence of the other person, the
situation and oneself, there is nothing to be angry about. The
realisation of emptiness is therefore the ultimate means of
ridding oneself of unrealistic negative emotions like anger.
7 - Equanimity.
means that one realises the basic equality of all sentient beings;
others want happiness, just like I do. Others make mistakes
just like I do. Others are confused, angry, attached just like
I often am. Is the other person happy in this situation, or
just struggling like I am?
8 - Openness
prepared to be open for the motivation of others to do what
causes you problems. Talking it over and being prepared to listen
can suddenly make a problem acceptable.
you ever notice the difference when a plane or train has much
delay and nobody gives any reasons for it? People very quickly
become irritated and hostile. Then when the driver or pilot
explains there is a technical defect or an accident, suddenly
waiting becomes easier.
9 - Relativity.
yourself if this situation is actually important enough to spoil
your own and other people's mood. Is this problem worth getting
upset in a life where death can hit me at any moment?
10 - Change Your Motivation.
case a situation is really unacceptable, and another person
needs to convinced that something is to be done or changed,
there is no need to become upset and angry. It is likely much
more efficient if you show of understanding and try to make
the other understand the need for change. If one needs to appear
angry for some reason to convince the other person of the seriousness
of the situation, one can think like a parent acting wrathful
to prevent the child from harming itself.
general, to be really effective one needs to reflect on quite
a number of aspects in one's own mind like; forgiveness, peace
of mind, fears, self-acceptance (no acceptance of others is
really possible without self-acceptance), habits, prejudices
11 - Watch Your Hands.
interesting suggestion from Jon Kabat-Zinn, from 'Wherever You
Go, There You Are':
our hand postures are mudras in that they are associated with
subtle or not-so-subtle energies. Take the energy of the fist,
for instance. When we get angry, our hands tend to close into
fists. Some people unknowingly practice this mudra a lot in
their lives. It waters the seeds of anger and violence within
you ever time you do it, and they respond by sprouting and growing
next time you find yourself making fists out of anger, try to
bring mindfulness to the inner attitude embodied in a fist.
Feel the tension, the hatred, the anger, the aggression, and
the fear which it contains. Then, in the midst of your anger,
as an experiment, if the person you are angry at is present,
try opening your fists and placing the palms together over your
heart in the prayer position right in front of him. (Of course,
he won't have the slightest idea what you are doing.) Notice
what happens to the anger and hurt as you hold this position
for even a few moments."
12 - Meditation.
but certainly not least, meditation can be the ultimate cure
to completely eliminating anger from your mind. In the beginning,
one can do analytical meditations, but also meditation on compassion,
love and forgiving reduce anger as well.
the realization of emptiness eradicates all delusions like anger.
Los Angeles County Coroner - Gift Shop
shop, called 'Skeletons In The Closet', has been operating
since September 1993. With the declining tax revenue, other
concepts had to be considered to help off-set monetary losses.
The intent was to use monies raised to offset the costs associated
with the Youthful Drunk Driving Visitation Program (YDDVP),
which uses no tax dollars as support.
marketing effort is an outgrowth of a coffee mug and tee-shirt
that had already been used to complement an annually sponsored
professional Coroner conference.
in the Closet features a complete line of quality souvenir items,
such as beach towels, tee-shirts, tote bags, baseball caps,
coroner toe tag key chains, boxer shorts called "undertakers,"
and more. Each item displays a unique Los Angeles County Coroner
design such as a skeleton in Sherlock Holmes attire, a chalked-out
body outline or the L.A. County Coroner seal.
to this marketing program has been overwhelmingly positive and
has received worldwide interests, particularly throughout the
United States and Canada. Customer awareness has been generated
through much publicized newspaper and magazine articles, as
well as radio and television appearances.
worldwide mail order business has been established with over
30,000 names of people interested in receiving the annual Skeletons
in the Closet catalog. Customer names are constantly being added
to the mailing list throughout the year from visitors to the
shop, and daily telephone requests.
Working With Anger ...by Thubten Chodron
- Reviewer: Midwest Book Review from Oregon, WI USA ...What
are the advantages and disadvantages of anger? Is it ever useful?
Working With Anger considers various forms of anger in response
to various life conditions, revealing the circumstances in which
anger can serve as a catalyst for change. An excellent survey
and self-help guide.
- Reviewer: from Sacramento, CA United States ...This was
an AWESOME book. Thubten Chodron knows what it's like to be
in the shoes of an American living in the millennium. And more!
She gives wise, yet practical, perspectives in how our perception
is what stands in our way 100% of the time. Of the many choices
we have in reacting to any given situation, anger is but only
one, and Thubten clearly illustrates how it only serves to pave
a destructive path for ourselves and others. I initially bought
this book in the hopes of finding a few answers for personal
situations, and I found myself feeling transformed within the
first 30-40 pages! For those who are naturally introspective,
some of this book will serve as an effective reminder for what
you already know. Most of it, however, will offer a refreshing
new view to take with you as you approach your day. One does
not need to be religious to benefit from this book, and you
don't need to spend a chunk of your day in a meditational state
to make use of it. A definite must for those who want to evolve
in a difficult world.
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