Recognizing the Trouble

3 of 4

Beginning with discomfort

Anger finds its food in the mental discomfort
I feel, faced with the unwanted happening
And the blocking of what I want to happen;
It then explodes and overwhelms me.


What happens when you don’t get what you want or things happen that you don’t want to happen? What happens when you are so sure in your likes and dislikes, wants and don’t-wants?

Before real anger happens, we experience a "mental discomfort" or frustration that comes from seeing things happen you don't want, or seeing what you do want being thwarted. Although you may become more and more irritated with these situations, this is an opportunity to do something with your discomfort other than flare up with anger. Catching that feeling of mental discomfort is an opportunity to intervene, mentally, verbally, or physically to dissipate the discomfort, to engage the situation energetically, before you explode and lose control to your anger and become its tool.

The Dalai Lama suggests we think of this mental discomfort as "discontent"

A nagging sense of discontent, a feeling of being dissatisfied, or of something being not right, is the fuel that gives rise to anger and hatred. What one should do is try to see how to prevent the arising of that fuel this feeling of discontent and dissatisfaction. Generally, this discontent arises in us when we feel that either we ourselves, or someone we love, or our close friends are being treated unfairly or threatened: people are being unjust toward us or our close friends. At that instant this feeling of discontent or unhappiness arises. Also, when others somehow obstruct us in achieving something, we feel that we are being trodden upon, and then we feel angry. So the approach here is to get at the root, appreciating the causal nexus, the chain, which would then ultimately explode in an emotional state like anger or hatred. The idea is to stop it at an early stage, rather than wait for that anger or hatred to arise fully.  quote

Seeing that, I should carefully eliminate
That food that gives life to the enemy;
For that enemy has no activity at all
Other than causing me harm.

Hatred not only destroys our immediate calmness and peace of mind, but also it throws us into a very complicated situation in which we are constantly confronted with confusion, problems, and difficulties. Shantideva wants us to realize that this inner enemy has no function other than causing us harm:

This is very different from an ordinary enemy. Although a person whom we regard as an enemy may engage in activities which are harmful to us, at least he or she has other functions: that person has to eat, that person has to sleep. So he or she has many other functions, and therefore cannot devote twenty-four hours a day to this project of destroying us. On the other hand, hatred has no other function, no other purpose, than destroying us. Realizing this fact, one should resolve as a practitioner never to allow an opportunity for this enemy, hatred, to arise. quote