Making the Most of Anger

Book Two – Chapter 08
[Parts of the chapter were posted previously here]
 [From Buddhas Heruka, Vajrapani and Manjushri]

We’ve covered most of the major delusions by now, and We’ve mentioned already that anger is one of the worst. So let’s spend some time covering anger.

Sometimes anger proves useful.

Not all the time; just sometimes, and not frequently. What carries more weight than the frequency, though, is how we deal with the frequency. And “frequency” means both the frequency of occurrence as well as the frequency of the energy generated when we get angry.

Anger disturbs the physical body and the mind.

Let’s start with the mind, because anger first erupts there. Some Buddhist teachers describe anger as the wish to harm.

Actually anger generates the wish to harm.

Anger always – always – arises from a feeling of hurt or fear.

Check for yourself: remember any anger-provoking incident that’s come your way. Now think back to how that incident began, well before you first started to feel manifest anger.

Someone did something – directly or indirectly – that affected you personally, in some instance shortly before the anger arose. Find it.

Many emotions affect us powerfully, mentally, even if they don’t seem to affect us physically. So find that instance, and try to remember how you did feel, before your feelings turned into anger.

Did you feel indignant? Indignation comes from feeling threatened, afraid, or concerned that something might harm you.

Did you feel embarrassed? Embarrassment comes from being hurt by teasing and such. We can feel embarrassed about something that “actually” happened, something we remember, or something we anticipate.

Were your feelings hurt, or your heart broken?

Or did you experience physical pain?

The list goes on, but you can see how all these different emotions boil down to feeling physically or emotionally at risk.

We feel a component of pain, and a component of uncertainty. When these two meet, they lead to anger.

Now let’s look at how the body reacts when we feel that precipitating emotion.

You probably know the ‘flight or fight’ response: our adrenaline level and heart rate increase when we sense danger, and the body does a host of other things too, depending on the level of threat. Whenever we feel threatening emotions, our familiar bodies respond… and our subtle bodies respond too.

Our ordinary and “super” senses may part ways then. Ordinary hearing may shut down, and we may freeze, but our subtle channels begin to open so that we can receive more sensory information about the state of our environment.

The mind rushes out to the sense organs to receive the sensory input, and the super-senses go into hyper-alert status.

On an energetic level, compare it to a World War II movie scene: a submarine coming under attack.

When we feel like this, we sometimes say that we “shut down”. Actually, the conscious mind shifts from focusing on our usual rational-logical thought process to a more responsive-instinctive-intuitive process.

We may not recognize our responsive-instinctive-intuitive mental process if we don’t use it often, so we may not feel at ease with it.

This adds to the feeling of discomfort and uncertainty, which further heightens the sense of danger…

Unless we find a way (quickly) to vent some of the pressure that built up so suddenly (usually in a matter of just a few seconds), something is bound to pop – and it’s usually our temper, although in some cases it might be, even more tragically, a blood vessel or a weapon.

If we’re lucky, we find a way to take a moment and a deep breath, and find calmness. When we manage to find that moment, this quick meditation technique works very well to bring us back to familiar ground without lashing out or dashing out.

It’s also ‘normal-enough’-looking that we can even do it in a crowded public place or at work.

When you feel like lashing or dashing, try this:

If you’re standing, plant your feet a bit apart so that they’re not touching, and let your arms fall relaxed at your sides.

If you can, close your eyes. Now imagine or visualize – or just think – that immediately all the excess energy flows both down through your feet straight to the center of the earth, and up through the top of your head straight into the heavens. The energy will follow your thoughts, leaving your body and going to the two places where it can transform without harming anyone.

As it flows into the earth, Mother Earth receives it lovingly, and immediately transmutes it into life-force energy that she can give to other beings that need it.

As it flows heavenwards, Holy Beings receive it, also lovingly, and they transmute it into blessings.

If you easily sense subtle energy, you may feel a shift in your body’s energy within a matter of seconds. If you’re not sensitive, don’t worry; it’s still happening.

If you cannot close your eyes, just try to focus your mind for a moment on where you want to direct that energy and ask for help, and the Enlightened Beings will gladly take over.

So we’ve just averted a potential physical disaster – congratulations!

How do we deal with the mental/emotional crisis that still looms heavy?

Ideally, we try to remember Emptiness. If we’re not ready for that, which is fine, there are other thoughts we can use, a few of which are:

  • Remind ourselves that whoever upset us appears only human, just as we appear only human (or only an animal, even more pitiful);
  • Try to put ourselves in the other beings’ place/shoes;
  • Best of all: mentally ask Enlightened Beings to take away our anger.

Now, if we’ve developed anger against an inanimate object… Well, then we can just remind ourselves how silly human beings can be sometimes, and try to laugh it off.

Sometimes a little straightforward humor is the best remedy for anger. If we can find the humor or ridiculousness in an anger situation (without trying to pass off more anger – sarcasm – as humor), then we’ve found an arsenal that’s quite capable of defending us from the pitfalls of anger.

Earlier, We said sometimes anger could be useful. So far, it doesn’t sound very useful, does it?

The usefulness of anger comes from this: it’s one of the most obvious delusions, so when it arises we can use it as a reminder. Let anger remind you that you are on a path, that you are making progress, and that anger is one of the delusions that you will one day conquer.

Progress is inevitable. Anger is not.

If we use our anger to fuel our motivation to make progress, we’ll notice, ironically, our progress increasing and our anger decreasing.

Eventually, if we use all our delusions as fuel in this way, we’ll find that by the time we run out of fuel, the wisdom of our realizations will be blazing brightly on its own.

Wait, that was a great ending… But what about that idea that everyone is already enlightened? Why are we even talking about anger and delusions?

Please keep reading…

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