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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
page 2
Sit in front of a mirror, look at your reflection, and insult it: "You’re ugly. You’re bad." Then praise it: "You’re beautiful. You’re good." Regardless of what you say, the image remains simply what it is. Praise and blame are not real in and of themselves. Like an echo, a shadow, a mere reflection, they hold no power to help or harm us.

As we practice in this way, we begin to realize that things lack solidity, like a dream or illusion. We develop a more spacious state of mind--one that isn’t so reactive. Then when anger arises, instead of responding immediately, we can look back on it and ask: "What is this? What’s making me turn red and shake? Where is it?" What we discover is that there is no substance to anger, no thing to find.

Once we realize we can’t find anger, we can let the mind be. We don’t suppress the anger, push it away, or engage it. We simply let the mind rest in the midst of it. We can stay with the energy itself--simply, naturally, remaining aware of it, without attachment, without aversion. Then we find that anger, like desire, isn’t really what we thought it was. We begin to see its nature, to realize its essence, which is mirror-like wisdom.

It may sound easy to do this, but it’s not. Anger stimulates us and we fly--one way or the other. We fly in our mind, we fly to a judgement, we fly to a reaction, we fly to this or that, becoming involved with whatever has upset us. Our habit of lashing back in this way has been reinforced again and again, lifetime after lifetime. If our understanding of the essence is only superficial, we’ll find out that we aren’t capable of applying it to real-life situations.

There is a famous Tibetan folktale of a man meditating in retreat. Somebody came to see him and asked, "What are you meditating on."

"Patience," he said.

"You’re a fool!"

This made the meditator furious, and he immediately started an argument--which proved exactly how much patience he had.

Only through continual, methodical application of these methods, day by day, month by month, year by year, will we dissolve our deeply ingrained habits. The process may take some time, but we will change. Look how quickly we change in negative ways. We’re quite happy, and then somebody says or does something, and we get irritated. Changing in a positive way requires discipline, exertion, and patience. The word for "meditation" in Tibetan is a cognate of the verb "to become familiar with" or "to acclimatize." Using a variety of methods, we become familiar with other ways of being.

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