The purpose of the following is simply to present the Zen perspective and not to convince.
Desire, anger and illusions are our main poisons. Among our emotions such as guilt, fear, resentment, doubt, confusion and jealousy anger is probably our most common one. “Being angry” does not mean I am “this anger”. Anger is not you or I or anybody else. Being anger means to have and to carry it. You can apply this important distinction for many of your emotions.
“No one makes us angry, we make ourselves angry. The trigger of anger is the match and the fire is ourselves. That we like it or not anger is a strong self defense reaction which can go overboard if not dealt in a mindful way that is …without emotion ”.
Therefore it is wise to deal first with ourselves and then with its outside trigger.
Dealing with anger is something like dealing with the flu:
When we catch a flu virus we accept it. Since there is no proper cure against it there is no point to fight against it. A similar approach can be applied with your anger.
1- Recognize, accept and observe your anger.
Being open and honest to our feelings is an essential tool to defuse them. Not easy!
We should not react nor fight against our anger since the stronger our ego reaction is the more violent the anger. This is Catch 22. Zen calls this auto feeding our emotions..
Great Zen Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said: “When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you.” Only understanding toward the genesis of your anger and how to deal with yourself will neutralize it”.
2- Don’t be attached to your anger.
Anger is quite unpleasant and harmful, and yet, strangely enough it can be very seductive.
Anger is a hook and we are the fish. There’s something delicious if not ecstatic about jumping at someone and telling what you think. This is oil on fire.
All beings includes the guy who just cut you off, the co-worker who takes credit for your ideas, and even a closed one who betrays you deserve the benefit of the doubt. It is not a sign of weakness, on the contrary it requires tremendous mental control and strength. For this reason, when we become angry we must take great care not to act out of our anger in making ourselves more miserable with the risk of retaliation from others.
3- Have patience.
Patience is a great healer. Wait before acting or speaking to the cause of your anger until you can do so without being upset and without causing harm. Act and speak to yourself first.
It takes enormous strength to cool down our self-defense reaction such as anger and wait before dealing with the cause.
4- Deal with the cause / trigger comes after dealing with self.
There are different types of anger triggers. The ones which affect you directly and the ones which affect you indirectly such as attitudes towards others. It is easier to deal with the latter. Also the cause can be one event or a chronic situation. It is easier to deal with the former. Finally in many cases dealing with the cause is not worth it your time, effort and stress. Let it go.
5- Finally consider meditating on your anger and its effects.
If resting our body is the best strategy against flu, resting our mind is the best weapon against anger or against any other negative feelings such as guilt, fear, jealousy, resentment, etc. You will not get this weapon on the black market but by practicing meditation to rest your mind.
Next week we will talk about how to rest our mind. It is easier than you think.
Thanks. Ven. Ji Gong Sunim Oct.2015
For a complete list of Dharma talks (Zen teaching) please go http://www.mindfulnesszenmeditation.ca/category/zen-keys/: list of subjects (posts) on the right hand side.