Anger and How It Arises
Anger is an aversive, negative mind-state that
· Focuses on someone (or something),
· Feels (second skandha) them to be unattractive or undesirable,
· Exaggerates their bad qualities and
· Wishes to harm them.
Anger arises at the level of the second skandha when there is a feeling of aversion, which is always! Realizing this may help to understand that anger is therefore never an appropriate response to anything!
Anger arises when we concoct a story about someone or something we don’t want or like, then develop an aversion to it, which in fact really doesn’t exist. Because anger is a fantasy, an exaggeration, anger is always unrealistic and intrinsically faulty. The person or thing that it focuses on does not in fact exist. So we develop anger from a fiction we create about someone or something that doesn't exist.
Anger, viewed this way, never serves any useful purpose whatsoever.
Understanding this, we then need to watch our mind carefully in order to recognize anger whenever it begins to grip us. The moment we feel the grip start, we need to practice discipline, awareness, and mindfulness. In other words, we need bring ourselves back close to the Path.
We do this by letting go (of the anger) and by resetting our intention to compassion and patience., This our attention and leads us to compassionate responses and actions that plant wholesome seeds in our garden and those allow us to make better choices in the future.
There is nothing more destructive than anger:
· It destroys our peace and happiness now, and
· Impels us to engage in negative actions that lead to untold suffering in the future.
· It blocks our spiritual progress and prevents us from accomplishing our spiritual goals.
Anger is by nature a painful state of mind. Whenever we develop anger,
· our inner peace immediately disappears and even
· our body becomes tense and uncomfortable.
· We are so restless that we find it nearly impossible to fall asleep, and whatever sleep we do manage to get is fitful and unrefreshing.
Metaphorically speaking, anger transforms even a normally attractive person into an ugly red-faced demon, a hell-being. We grow more and more miserable, and, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control our emotions.
Anger always carries with it a wish to retaliate against that or those whom we think have harmed us. Often we are willing to expose ourselves to great personal danger merely to exact petty revenge. To get our own back for perceived injustices or slights, we are prepared to jeopardize our job, our relationships, and even the well-being of our family and children.
When we are really angry we lose our freedom of choice, we are driven not by reason but anger and rage, anger violent sister. Sometimes this rage is even directed at our friends and family. Forgetting the immeasurable kindnesses we have received from our them, we often strike out against the ones we hold most dear. It is no wonder that an habitually angry person is soon avoided by those who know him.
The antidote for anger is patience, or “patient acceptance” as it is termed in Vajrayana, and if we are seriously interested in progressing along the spiritual path there is no practice more important than this.
Why We Get Angry
Anger is a response to feelings of aversion from the second skandha, making anger omnipresent. Whenever we are prevented from getting what we want (greed) or when we are forced into a situation we dislike (greed) – in short, whenever we have to put up with something we would rather avoid – our undisciplined mind reacts by immediately feeling aversive. This uncomfortable feeling is what turns into anger.
Training ourselves to be aware of the physical symptoms of anger, which arise before the emotional components, gives us a good chance of stopping anger from taking hold. Some of those physical responses we can notice are faster shorter breaths, increased heart rate, facila tension, muscle tension and jerkiness, teeth clenching and grinding, flushing, prickly sensation in the hands, and sweating.
As soon as you notice these sensations arising, shift your mindstate, intention and attention to reduce and eliminate the anger and let patience arise. If you wait the adrenaline will surge through your body and it will be too late. So act early to transform and reset yourself on the Path––using right effort–abandoning the anger and refraining from maintaining the conditions necessary to maintain it, then developing patience and compassion and maintaining those.
The final part of this series will appear in about 2 weeks. Look for the announcement in the Center's next newsletter.