The destructiveness of anger

7 September 2010 - 3:54am Comments Off

We may have knowledge and even teach Dharma. But are we humble and kind to everyone?

Even to people who annoy us or are irresponsible? Being kind does not mean you don’t recognise qualities that need to change. It just means you have to be patient and dwell on the other qualities that are…okay. They might change and they might not, but out of compassion for others, be an inspiration for them to change by you yourself changing first. We can choose: Be happy or unhappy.

His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche

In the Lamrim chapter on generating bodhicitta, a prerequisite practice is to develop the mind of equanimity. This is the mind which is not selective in rendering help. It is a mind which:

  • Does not develop closeness to people we like out of attachment
  • Does not feel aversion towards those we do not like
  • Does not develop indifference or inertness towards those we do not have any association or relationship.

The three types of people are those whom we consider as our friends, enemies and strangers. The most dangerous situation is when we have to deal with someone we label as an enemy. Unlike the other two situations, if we are not mindful, we can create harm to our enemy and to ourselves immediately. Anger easily arises when we see someone as our enemy; the encounter becomes a confrontational and hostile one.

We need to reassess such labelling of people into the three categories. There are many people in our life who had helped us in the past, whom we consider our friends. If our friend now commits an injustice to us, is it reasonable for us to instantly ignore all the good he has done for us, the many years of friendship he has given us, to now call him an enemy? The reverse also applies.

People who shout at us are influenced by anger – a mental affliction, a disease of our mind. If we retaliate in a negative way, it will make them even angrier and engage in more negative actions. Anger’s destructiveness can destroy all our merits and is a direct cause to be reborn in hell.

If we understand the person has a problem, is ‘sick’, would we still view him as our enemy or as someone who needs help?

If we know the faults of anger and we retaliate with anger, then we are starting a vicious cycle which will only result in unhappiness. If we are wiser, have compassion – we should take responsibility to prevent this cycle from happening by having forbearance and loving kindness for our ‘enemy’ who is suffering.

As Rinpoche said, we have a choice. We can transform a potentially harmful situation into a win-win situation or we go for the lose-lose option.

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