Buddhists believe that anger is one of the three poisons that cause rebirth. Though rebirth might sound like a blessing to many, Buddhists view it differently. To Buddhists, the ultimate achievement is to escape the perpetual cycle of death and rebirth, which they call Samsara. The other two poisons are ignorance and greed.
Of these three poisons, ignorance is the worst. As Tibetologist Jeffrey Hopkins states, “Ignorance is the conception or assumption that phenomena exist in a far more concrete way than they actually do. [This leads] the person to be drawn into afflictive desire and hatred [i.e. attachment and aversion]… Not knowing the real nature of phenomena, we are driven to generate desire for what we like and hatred for what we do not like and for what blocks our desires.”
Ignorance is the root cause of all suffering and is also the root cause of anger. In order to remove anger (and all suffering) we must remove ourselves from ignorance.
To clarify, we must learn to detach ourselves from our ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. We must learn to let go. The manner in which we let go is incredibly simple. At least, it’s incredibly simple in theory. It does take come practice.
The path is through acceptance of things as they are. When we accept things precisely as they are, we free ourselves from ignorance and from suffering.
For example, let’s say we’re angry because we’ve been paid late. In our mind we are apt to think something along the lines of “My pay is late. I won’t make rent. I’ll have to get a loan. That’ll mean I’ll lose money… I’m never going to afford that vacation” and so on. In this situation, we fight to deny reality. We think “I’m not accepting that I’m being paid late.” Buddhists would say that this denial, in itself, is the root cause of suffering.
So how do we develop acceptance? The answer is through meditation. When we meditate we learn to accept things as they are. This prevents the suffering. That’s why meditation is so powerful for anger, because as soon as we accept reality we let go of our anger.
So how can we used Buddhist meditations for anger management?
When starting to use meditation for anger management it’s very important first to understand that anger is created by the mind.
Aim to understand that anger is a feeling created by yourself. Sure, certain external events can lead us to anger, but the ultimate feeling, anger itself, is created by ourselves. An important part of Buddhist meditation is to recognise that we, ourselves, create our emotions.
Anger is a product of the mind. That’s why the only way to stop being angry is to control the mind. And that’s really what meditation is, it’s total self control. It’s self mastery. Naturally, self mastery is not so easy. It’s a challenge. Buddha meditated for decades before attaining enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. But we don’t need total enlightenment to mange our anger. We just need a bit of control.
In order to control your anger, use these 3 tips:
1) Be mindful of the feeling of anger. Casually observe anger in its purest form.
2) Remind yourself that anger is created by yourself and that it is related to your sense of self.
3) Accept reality as it is. To do this, simply focus your mind 100% on any part of your present environment. For instance, if you’re walking heom from work and you’re angry, just focus your mind 100% on what you’re doing: walking. Your anger will chill like cinders on the snow.
Another excellent way of curing anger through Buddhist meditation is to practice Loving Kindness. When you feel angry at someone, try to be compassionate towards that person. Try to recognise that they themselves are human and subject to the faults of the mind. Imagine extending thoughts of love and kindness to this person. This will completely defuse your anger.
And as an aside, there are many people who have said to me that it’s cowardice to ignore someone when they’re “giving you shit.” I simply cannot agree to that. It is a heck of a lot easier to be angry than it is to accept another human being’s shortcomings and to compassionately maintain equanimity and loving kindness towards them.
I hope you’ve found this article enlightening. If you have any question,s, please get in contact either via a comment below, or via our Facebook page (which you can reach via the sidebar).
Thanks for reading.