Defeating anger with love

Image result for geshe kelsang gyatso quotesWe can all see the destructive impact that anger has on our state of mind and our relationships; it is not hard to see that retaliating to anger with anger only causes more problems. It takes a lot of mental effort to re-train our mind to respond to other people’s challenging behavior in a different way, but we can learn to transform those situations that usually provoke anger into causes of love instead. We just have to look into things a bit more deeply than we normally do, instead of reacting on instinct.

The simplest way to do this is to recognize that there is always a reason for the way they behave. The reason may be a bit messed up, but if we look beyond our immediate gut reaction and ask why? then we will find a whole set of causes and conditions that have forced our adversary into a position where they feel they have no choice but to lash out. People only hurt us when they are hurting themselves; the people who harm us are suffering from delusions, so we should feel compassion for them.

As Geshe-la says in Eight Steps to Happiness:

“Buddhas see that delusions have many faults but they never see people as faulty, because they distinguish between people and their delusions. If someone is angry we think `He is a bad and angry person’, whereas Buddhas think `He is a suffering being afflicted with the inner disease of anger.’ If a friend of ours were suffering from cancer we would not blame him for his physical disease, and, in the same way, if someone is suffering from anger or attachment we should not blame him for the diseases of his mind.”

We know we can’t help becoming deluded – anger, resentment, jealousy and so forth are deeply ingrained habits. So if we have trouble controlling our own minds, why do we expect other people to be able to control theirs? It’s not their fault: they may try their best, but still get angry. It’s not as if that were something they would choose to do: who says ‘Oh yes, I really fancy flying into a blind rage right now, that will really win me some friends’? OK, maybe the Vikings were into that – but generally, we know people would prefer to be calm and happy: they just can’t manage it. It’s not fair to blame them for that – it would be adding insult to injury really. If they’ve become angry, they’re already miserable, so they don’t need us making it worse. In fact, we can make it better for them and for ourselves if we recognize they are suffering from the inner sickness of anger and wish for them to be freed from that suffering.



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2 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    I am the one that is angry all the time inside – I hate humans for hurting animals and feel useless as I can’t help all the animals and nature from the destructive cruelty of man kind.
    I hurt inside and cry slightly and this intern fills my life with seething anger that I take it out on my loved one verbally and I know he will leave me if I do not contain my anger.’mwhen we met I had controlled my anger and learnt to hold back all emotions but he said I need to be free and let my emotions out.
    I told him he would not like me if I did that as my containment of these demons within my crying soul would over flow and consume me.
    Meh said he could take it but I can’t control the turmoil in my head the anger and sheer carnage that I have for the pain I feel for all animals – I wish I could be a super power and do to a human exactly what they do to an innocent animal.
    I need your help to learn to contain me grief and crying emotional state before it ripes through my being and destroys this kind mans kindness towards me.

    • Kunden
      Kunden says:

      Dear Karen,
      I understand your anger, but real compassion never turns to anger with others. Everyone who harms another person – human or animal – is creating negative karma that will bring them future suffering. It’s a vicious cycle, and ultimately no-one is to blame; the best thing we can do is to help everyone become free from the negative impulses that control them.
      What I find most powerful is to recognise that I can make a difference to the world through being a loving person; that has a far greater impact than anger. So have confidence that you can let go of your anger and that won’t make you passive: you will find a new and better way to help, a way that doesn’t damage your relationship.


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