Whatever my virtuous deeds may be,
Venerating buddhas, generosity and so on,
Amassed over a thousand aeons--
All are destroyed in a moment of anger.
Shantideva starts with a bang! A moment of anger, he says,
can destroy a lifetime of good deeds. Can this be?
of a time when your lashing out in anger disrupted
what seemed to that point to be a harmonious relationship.
One minute there' was love and friendship; the next
minute it feels like the flash of anger negated months
or years of positive feeling. Think of a time when
someone you trusted lashed out in anger. Even with
an apology, how did the anger affect your trust?
There is no evil as harmful as anger,
No discipline as effective as patience,
Thus by all possible means I should
Cultivate patience with intensity.
Yes, there are many destructive emotions: there is conceit,
arrogance, jealousy, desire, lust, closed-mindedness, and so
on. But anger has a place all its own in terms of its harmfulness,
both to our wish to be good-hearted and to our calmness and
clarity of mind.
What discipline can we identify as a path to transcending anger?
The opposite of anger ultimately is love and compassion, the
will to help others not to suffer and to be happy. But we know
we just can’t make this happen. We need a middle way, and that
way is tolerance, patience, forbearance. And forgiveness.
you are harmed, or think you are, how hard
does it seem to you to be able to actually
tolerate the irritation, be patient with the harm,
forbear from reacting, and even forgive the injury?
Recognizing how difficult even this middle way is for us, we
see how much we need the positive resolve is to cultivate tolerance
Keeping the mind wounded by anger,
I will never experience peace.
I will have no joy or happiness,
Will lose my sleep, writhing with frustration.
you are harmed, or think you are, how hard does it
seem to you to be able to actually tolerate the irritation,
be patient with the harm, forbear from reacting, and
even forgive the injury?
We think of being wounded by other people’s anger.
How about how your anger wounds you?
Can you remember being so consumed with
angry thoughts – of being wronged or hurt or ignored
or insulted – that you have lost your peace of mind?
Have you been unable to sleep because of angry thoughts?
know how anger feels in your body? One problem with
our being consumed with anger is that we don’t recognize
it. Perhaps we just take it for granted. So it can
help to make an effort to experience and recognize
the physical discomfort of anger.
Here’s a meditation Pema Chodron suggests:
been angry, you can intentionally replay the whole
Pay attention to your feelings and thoughts.
Are they obsessive and
repetitive? Do they fuel your
grudges or judgments? Then, while
in and out, take the feeling of anger as the focus
your meditation. Give it your full attention, without
away from it by repressing or acting it out.
Try to experience the
anger nonverbally by getting
to know its qualities. What color is
it? What temperature?
How does it smell or taste? This practice
in touch with emotions very directly and lessens the
Feeling how awful anger feels can motivate you to work