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More On Anger
Don't Get Mad, Get Glad: Lama Surya Das on transforming anger.

Anger in the "I" of the Beholder by Dinty Moore.

How facing up to your anger can be a part of spiritual growth, by Darlene Cohen.

Plus, a passage from the Buddha on the futility of getting mad.

Hitting Your Head With a Hammer
A Tibetan teacher explains the foolproof way to diffuse anger
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche  
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, endless suffering.

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.

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Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Chagdud Gonpa Foundation and author of 'Lord of the Dance' (Padma Publishing). For more information, e-mail chagdud@snowcrest.net. This excerpt is adapted from 'Gates to Buddhist Practice.'

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