17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.



 Anger : Effects, Causes and Antidotes

by Ven. Gyaltrul Rinpoche, 13.06.1997

The five poisons, i.e. desire, anger, ignorance, pride and jealousy affect our mind. Among these five poisons, anger is the most damaging one. One of the main practices of the Mahayana / Vajrayana practitioners is to get rid of anger.

Shantideva once said "One strong bitter anger can destroy merits of a thousand aeons". There is in fact no merits equivalent to patience and no bad karma equivalent to anger.

The Effects of Anger
1) Visible effects which are felt in this life
2) Invisible effects which will be felt in the next life

1) Visible Effects
Examples of visible effects of anger are feeling unhappy an uneasy, and showing undesirable facial expressions. These will cause others to feel uncomfortable and unwilling to talk to us. Our spirit and physical energy will be deteriorated. We cannot sleep well when we have anger and strong hatred. The next day we will not have a clear mind to concentrate on things. Our diets will be affected, either we do not have to appetite to eat or we will eat a lot. Worse still, it draws all our senses and wisdom such that we become very blunt and bold. Whatever we do, we will not be able to think whether it is right or wrong. We will feel like wanting to scold others and talk bad about others. Eventually, we lose our friends, relatives, health and merits.

2) Invisible Effects
Anger will destroy our goal for practicing and will cause us to be born in hell directly. In Amitabha;s long sutra, it was mentioned that saying bad words with anger and hatred to a Bodhisattva will create evil karma for aeons or destroy our merits accumulated for aeons. This was also mentioned in many other texts. A person who takes and preserves the bodhisattva vows is a bodhisattva. Practitioners of Mahayana and Vajrayana who always think of sentient beings and preserve their vows are bodhisattvas. Therefore one of the most important things to remember is that a bodhisattva can be anyone anywhere. We should not be angry at any person, especially our dharma brothers and sisters.

The Causes of Anger
To know how a problem comes about and how to get rid of it, we have to know its causes which can be divided into primary cause and secondary cause. The primary cause is self-grasping ego which can be eradicated by the practice of understanding and realizing emptiness. The secondary cause is frustration which is a step before anger. Frustrations arise when we get cannot get what we want or we get something which we do not want. All these happened because:
1) all sentient beings have too much self-interest or ego;
2) there is no respect towards others. Everybody thinks that they are the most important and unless there is mutual respect, we as well as others be harmed;
3) dissatisfaction which can cause unhappiness because we tend to want to get more when we are not satisfied; and
4) impatience. We should know that things take time to get results but we give up halfway. This also leads us to unhappiness and the generation of anger.

The Antidote for Anger
It is very important to know the causes and the effects of a problem in order to get rid of or reduce the anger associated with the problem. There are three ways to solve our problem of anger:-
1) Analytical meditation
2) Skillful practice
3) Generation of positive reception

1) Analytical meditation
Imagine someone says very bad words to make us very angry or defame us in front of others. If we are unhappy because of anger, we should examine ourselves. What is the cause that makes us unhappy? Is it the sound / word we heard, the cause of our unhappiness? Imagine again that somebody says very bad words but in a different language that we do not understand or he says it with a smiling face, what would you think? In our daily life, if we can analyze this through meditation, then we are actually practicing the Dharma. We should use this skillful mean. Chanting cannot replace this analytical meditation.

From our analytical meditation we will be able to know that the word is not the cause of our unhappiness and anger. The cause in fact is the thought attachment of thinking that the word is something bad to us. You may think that this is perhaps true, but you may get angry when someone hits you because of feeling the physical pain. You should meditate and ask yourself. If you get angry when you are in pain, why don't you get angry when you have a headache, toothache, etc? They are all pains. You may say the headache is caused by no one but this pain and anger is caused by someone with a bad intention. If you think like this, check if this person is always hitting others or saying bad words to others. He may not scold or hit everybody but just a few people. There must be
something behind him that makes him hit/scold others. Ask yourself if someone hits you with a stick, will you be angry at the stick or the person? Usually we get angry with the person but not the stick because it is the person who causes the movement of the stick. But we should know that the person hits us because of anger. He will not want to hit people all the time. For example, he will not hit people when he is happy. If anger is not the cause for him to hit people, he will hit people anytime. Why don't you get angry at the person's anger then? If you know this secret, you will not complain much. Instead you should feel compassionate towards this person because he will create karma under the control of anger.

Another meditation is to think of the corresponding cause. If you are not here, he has no object to hit. Therefore at least 50% of the problem comes from you. You are here at the wrong time and wrong place. If you think back with anger and hatred towards the person, will it help you to be happy? If it doesn't, why should you be angry? In fact this
will be harmful because it will create more bad effects. If you are angry with him, and in return he gets angry with you, etc. There will be no end to it.

2) Skillful Practice
One of the very successful skills is a Bodhisattva practice of practicing like a tree. If someone hits a tree, the tree will not feel anything and will not move. Similarly, if someone hurts us and we do not
react, it will stop further detriments (even though when we are actually emotionally involved). If your unhappiness is caused by jealousy, think of the goal that you want to achieve. Is it possible to
achieve? If it is not possible, why not just forget about it and do something else? Why be unhappy as this will not be helpful? The unhappiness will even make us angrier. You should void unnecessary
troubled places. If you know you'll have problems when going to a certain place at a certain time, don't go. It is also important to understand the timing factor, i.e. is it the right time or not? An
example is when you are doing a good deed but couldn't achieve the goal for others. You will get frustrated, but think, is it the right timing? If not, you should do it some other time. Another main skill
is never count to how many times you had practiced patience.

3) Generation of Positive Perception towards All Sentient Beings
When we are positive towards others, our anger will become weaker. To practice this, we need to do one of the following when we get angry:

1) contemplate about the benefits of patience and the faults of anger;
2) understand that things we experience are the results of previous karma and accept them; and
3) think or understand that the nature of all sentient beings is pure because they all have the Buddha Nature. They are beings controlled by
anger and ignorance. We shouldn't be angry at these innocent beings. We should be angry at the 3 poisons.

In conclusion, by understanding the faults and causes of anger and knowing how to solve the problem, we will be able to practice the Dharma
to calm our mind and attain liberation. It will definitely benefit us in this life as well as future lives.

Questions and Answers

Q. Is there any difference between acquiring Dharma knowledge by
learning from books and by listening to teachings in temples?

A. The three methods of learning the dharma are listening, contemplating
and practicing. Therefore, listening is very important. You can still
learn from a book but it depends on who wrote the book. When you are
reading the book and you don't understand, you cannot ask the book.
When someone speaks the dharma, you can ask questions to clear your
doubts and this is also not so boring.


Q. What is the real meaning and purpose of receiving empowerment? Is it necessary to practice after an empowerment?

A. Receiving empowerment is opening the gate to a deity's palace to receive blessing from the deity. Through empowerment, all defilements and obstacles will be purified. You will be blessed by the
deity and eventually achieve the state of the deity. It is not necessary to practice after receiving the empowerment, but if it is your commitment, you can chant the mantra and do the practice.

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