On Anger

IMG_0689From Thich Nhat Hanh’s Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness: “As we’ve seen already, when anger arises, we first need to come back to our conscious breathing and sponsor our anger with mindfulness. We concentrate on our breathing in order to maintain mindfulness. We avoid listening to or looking at the person whom we regard as the cause of our anger. Usually when we’re angry, we don’t return to ourselves and take care of healing our anger. We want to think about the hateful aspects of the person who has made us angry—rudeness, dishonesty, cruelty, maliciousness, and so on. The more we think of them, listen to them, or look at them, the more our anger flares up. Their hatefulness may be real, imaginary, or exaggerated, but whatever it is that’s making us angry, we’re inclined to give our full attention to that. In fact, the root of our problem is the anger inside of us, and we have to come back to it and take care of it first of all. Like a firefighter, we must put water on the blaze immediately and not waste time looking for the person who set the house on fire.

“Breathing in, I know that I am angry.

Breathing out, I know that I must take care of my anger.”

So it’s best not to listen to, look at, or think about the other person, or to say or do anything as long as anger persists. If we put our mind into the work of observing and calming our anger, we’ll avoid creating damage that we would probably regret later. We may like to go outside and practice walking meditation. The fresh air, green trees, and the plants will help us greatly. As we walk, we can recite this verse: Breathing in, I know that anger is still here. Breathing out, I know that anger is me. And I know that mindfulness is me also. Breathing in, I know that anger is an unpleasant feeling. Breathing out, I know that this feeling has been born and will die. Breathing in, I know that I can take care of this feeling. Breathing out, I calm this feeling. Mindfulness embraces the feeling, as a mother holds her crying child in her arms and transmits all her affection and care. If a mother puts all her heart and mind into caring for her baby, the baby will feel the mother’s gentleness and will calm down. In the same way, we can calm the functioning of our mind.” (84)





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