Attachment and anger are two sides of the same coin.
Because of ignorance, and the mind’s split into object-subject
duality, we grasp at or push away what we perceive as external
to us. When we encounter something we want and can’t get, or
someone prevents us from achieving what we’ve told ourselves
we must achieve, or something happens that doesn’t accord with
the way we want things to be, we experience anger, aversion,
or hatred. But these responses are of no benefit. They only
cause harm. From anger, along with attachment and ignorance,
the three poisons of the mind, we generate endless karma,
We can use the method of contemplation to think through
things differently, to change our habit of reacting to anger.
Since it is difficult at first to think clearly in the midst
of an altercation, we begin by practicing at home, alone,
imagining confrontations and new ways of responding.
Imagine, for example, that someone insults you. He’s
disgusted with you, slaps you, or offends you in some way. You
think: "What should I do? I’ll defend myself--I’ll retaliate."
Now try another approach. Say to yourself: "This person makes
me angry. But what is anger? It is one of the poisons of the
mind that generates negative karma, leading to intense
suffering. Meeting anger with anger is like following a
lunatic who jumps off a cliff. Do I have to do likewise? If
it’s crazy for him to act the way he does, it’s even crazier
for me to act the same way."
Remember that those who are acting aggressively toward you
are only buying their own suffering, creating their own worse
predicament, through ignorance. They think that they’re doing
what’s best for themselves, that they’re correcting something
that’s wrong, or preventing something worse from happening.
But the truth is that their behavior will be of no benefit.
They are in many ways like a person with a headache beating
his head with a hammer to stop the pain. In their unhappiness,
they blame others, who in turn become angry and fight, only
making matters worse. When we consider this predicament, we
realize they should be the object of our compassion rather
than our blame and anger. Instead of giving up on those who
cause harm, we need to realize that they are seeking happiness
but don’t know how to find it.
Another approach we can use is to develop awareness of the
illusory quality of our anger and the object of our anger. If,
for example, someone says to you, "You’re a bad person," ask
yourself, "Does that make me bad? If I were a bad person and
someone said I was good, would that make me good?" If someone
says coal is gold, does it become gold? Things don’t change
just because someone says this or that.