Anger

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
binocular
Posts: 6878
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Anger

Post by binocular » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:44 am

one_awakening wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:23 am
Anger is a common emotion and people often feel that they need to express their anger. Does anger serve any purpose?
Among other things, anger is a way to maintain personal boundaries, a way to psychologically draw a line between oneself and others, or to psychologically push others (or other things) out of one's mental (and physical) space.

It would be dangerous to try to overcome or eliminate anger without first learning and putting into practice other ways to maintain personal boundaries.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

mal4mac
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:47 pm

Re: Anger

Post by mal4mac » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:27 am

The energy of anger is habitual and serves the sense of self. Of course you can diffuse anger, but if there is no insight involved with doing that then there is no release from craving. What you seem to be talking about is a kind of psychology, but this is not what the Buddha was teaching. Your action is a behavioral therapy that does not address the root of suffering. Plus, anger has never been the catalyst for change. Look at the state of the world and ask yourself if anger has made any difference to violence and entrenched ignorance. Look how angry Americans are.
If I see someone doing something wrong, say someone is drunk at the pub and says, "I'm gonna drive home, I'm not thatch drunk...", then anger might give me the energy to talk him out of it and perhaps save someone from great suffering at his hands. Does this anger make me suffer? I don't really see it, I'd certainly suffer more through not doing anything about it, and (again) someone might suffer greatly if nothing is done. I think "righteous anger" has been a great catalyst for change for the good, though of course non-righteous anger is no use to anyone.

"Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." - Aristotle

Why have Buddhist monks & intellectuals remained so quiet under sometimes awful regimes (think of Burma?) In the UK things seemed to get better when anti-slavery protesters, suffragettes, Jarrow marchers, etc., got very angry, but in the right way, so things changed for the better. Of course, a lot of angry imperialists caused a lot of suffering around the world. George Orwell's "Burmese Days " is to the point here, the Buddhist populace don't anger very easily, or very well, and a bit more righteous anger directed against the British imperialists *and* complacent monks (& lip service Buddhist magistrates) would seem to be in order...
- Mal

chownah
Posts: 8437
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Anger

Post by chownah » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:42 am

one_awakening wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:23 am
Anger is a common emotion and people often feel that they need to express their anger. Does anger serve any purpose?
I like that you have differentiated between the emotion and the expression.
Anger(an emotion) is the fruition of past kamma (intention).
Expressions of anger(an action) is kamma (intention) and will lead to fruition in the future (in the future with respect to the expression).
The arising of this emotion and then the arising of intention is commonly how it happens even if the intentional aspect is only mental. So, I guess the question for the typical scenario is whether the fruition of the expression of anger serves some purpose....and I'll assume that we are really looking for some beneficial purpose. Personally, I can't see how it could.....except in some round about sort of way in an extreme narrative.
"I actually would have killed you except that I expressed my anger in a more appropriate way"....is an example of what I consier to be an extreme narrative.
chownah

User avatar
L.N.
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:01 pm

Re: Anger

Post by L.N. » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:01 pm

Sometimes people express anger as a social tool out of compassion without having anger in the heart. For example, in a classroom, a teacher might speak sharply to a student, yet not actually be angry. The student thinks the teacher is angry.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

dharmacorps
Posts: 1031
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: Anger

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:58 pm

Is your question really if anger serves any purpose, or is it "can we use it on the path"? Because regarding purpose, I don't know that any emotion inherently has a purpose, but all of them can become a part of the path.

I'm reminded that the Buddha said the universe in general serves no greater purpose, so I don't see why emotions we have would have any "purpose" either in and of themselves.

User avatar
PuerAzaelis
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:44 pm

Re: Anger

Post by PuerAzaelis » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:39 pm

mal4mac wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:27 am
[drunk guy at the pub etc]
One of my first encounters with Buddhism was a two day retreat I took with a Soto Zen monk. By the Q & A on the second day I was so exasperated with the unbearable b*llshit that the only way I could think of to console and revenge myself for these two lost days would be to present him with some hypothetical that would explode his mind and reduce him to tears and make it obvious that this whole Buddhism business with all its gentleness and etc. was basically cr*p.

So I asked him the standard question - what would he do if somebody crashed through the door right now and threatened to kill everyone with a gun. You know, because I wanted to un-man him for the spineless pacifist bs artist that he was.

I have somehow retained (without repressing them forever) two memories of my subsequent humiliation.

The first is the look of bemused compassion on his face with hints of sadness and concern.

The second is the large (as in, large) framed picture of Kwan Yin serenely standing on the back of a raging dragon he removed from his backpack and his subsequent explanation of how her view (stance? attitude?) might possibly assist me (me, as in, the person who had presented him with this hypothetical) in calming my anger which, in turn, would permit me to be more in control of myself in order to deal with the situation as it required, etc. etc. etc.

The next memory I have is of me sitting at a bar consuming my xth gin and tonic and contemplating how everyone else walking around and laughing with each other at this bar were all robots and no one understood how clear perception really is.

So the moral of this story is ... is there some goddam thing with zen monks carrying around large (as in, large) framed pictures of Kwan Yin standing on the dragon, in their backpacks? Sort of like, break seal in case of emergency, sort of thing?

Inquiring minds want to know.

(Every single detail in this story is true).
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

User avatar
one_awakening
Posts: 176
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:04 am

Re: Anger

Post by one_awakening » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:27 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:58 pm
Is your question really if anger serves any purpose, or is it "can we use it on the path"?
Both are the same question. If anger can be used on the path, then it serves a purpose.
“You only lose what you cling to”

User avatar
one_awakening
Posts: 176
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:04 am

Re: Anger

Post by one_awakening » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:33 am

mal4mac wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:33 am
So anger could be the catalyst that causes us to act with courage and compassion to address violence, injustice, and entrenched ignorance. "
Can't we act with courage and compassion to address violence and injustice without anger?
“You only lose what you cling to”

Saengnapha
Posts: 1350
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: Anger

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:58 am

paul wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:46 am
Saengnapha wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:33 am
Any emotion or thought that comes up, if seen as impermanent, dissatisfying, and not self, doesn't harm anyone. There is no need to transform anger. We need to transform our view. Right view is the first step. It is a condition which allows harmony to unfold in all aspects of one's life. It leads to Right Intention and so forth, to Right Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration. This is not a sectarian issue where you decide which school has the right tools. Anger comes about through causes. It is not difficult to see what those causes are if you are ready to look.
The above statement is opposed to the transcendent Theravada view. The aim is to actively work towards the eradication of anger (ill-will) which task is accomplished in the third stage of holiness, non-returner.

2. ILL-WILL

A. Nourishment of Ill-Will
There are objects causing aversion; frequently giving unwise attention to them — this is the nourishment for the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and for the increase and strengthening of ill-will that has already arisen.

— SN 46:51

B. Denourishing of Ill-Will
There is the liberation of the heart by loving-kindness; frequently giving wise attention to it — this is the denourishing of the arising of ill-will that has not yet arisen, and the decrease and weakening of ill-will that has already arisen.

— SN 46:51

Cultivate the meditation on loving-kindness! For by cultivating the meditation on loving-kindness, ill-will disappears.

Cultivate the meditation on compassion! For by cultivating the meditation on compassion, cruelty disappears.

Cultivate the meditation on sympathetic joy! For by cultivating the meditation on sympathetic joy, listlessness disappears.

Cultivate the meditation on equanimity! For by cultivating the meditation on equanimity, anger disappears.

— MN 62

Six things are helpful in conquering ill-will:

Learning how to meditate on loving-kindness;
Devoting oneself to the meditation of loving-kindness;
Considering that one is the owner and heir of one's actions (kamma);
Frequent reflection on it (in the following way):
Thus one should consider: "Being angry with another person, what can you do to him? Can you destroy his virtue and his other good qualities? Have you not come to your present state by your own actions, and will also go hence according to your own actions? Anger towards another is just as if someone wishing to hit another person takes hold of glowing coals, or a heated iron-rod, or of excrement. And, in the same way, if the other person is angry with you, what can he do to you? Can he destroy your virtue and your other good qualities? He too has come to his present state by his own actions and will go hence according to his own actions. Like an unaccepted gift or like a handful of dirt thrown against the wind, his anger will fall back on his own head."

Noble friendship;
Suitable conversation.
— Commentary to Satipatthana Sutta

These things, too, are helpful in conquering ill-will:

Rapture, of the factors of absorption (jhananga);
Faith, of the spiritual faculties (indriya);
Rapture and equanimity, of the factors of enlightenment (bojjhanga).
C. Simile
If there is a pot of water heated on the fire, the water seething and boiling, a man with a normal faculty of sight, looking into it, could not properly recognize and see the image of his own face. In the same way, when one's mind is possessed by ill-will, overpowered by ill-will, one cannot properly see the escape from the ill-will which has arisen; then one does not properly understand and see one's own welfare, nor that of another, nor that of both; and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized.

— SN 46:55

"The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest", Nyanaponika Thera.
I don't dispute what you wrote, but I think the view I was responding to needs to start at the beginning of developing Right View. The Transcendent View is not really available to most if there is no preparation and study of the conventional as the Buddha laid it out through his basic teaching of the 4 Noble Truths, etc. Perhaps I'm being too simplistic, but the Transcendental is not realistic for most people except a highly developed practitioner. I try not to use words like conquering, destroying, annihilating, because of the mixup of 'atta' as doer and not understanding 'helplessness' in terms of disenchantment and dispassion.

Saengnapha
Posts: 1350
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:17 am

Re: Anger

Post by Saengnapha » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:14 am

mal4mac wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:27 am
The energy of anger is habitual and serves the sense of self. Of course you can diffuse anger, but if there is no insight involved with doing that then there is no release from craving. What you seem to be talking about is a kind of psychology, but this is not what the Buddha was teaching. Your action is a behavioral therapy that does not address the root of suffering. Plus, anger has never been the catalyst for change. Look at the state of the world and ask yourself if anger has made any difference to violence and entrenched ignorance. Look how angry Americans are.
If I see someone doing something wrong, say someone is drunk at the pub and says, "I'm gonna drive home, I'm not thatch drunk...", then anger might give me the energy to talk him out of it and perhaps save someone from great suffering at his hands. Does this anger make me suffer? I don't really see it, I'd certainly suffer more through not doing anything about it, and (again) someone might suffer greatly if nothing is done. I think "righteous anger" has been a great catalyst for change for the good, though of course non-righteous anger is no use to anyone.
Do you need to be angry to tell a drunk at the bar not to drive home? According to the Buddha, suffering is the first Noble Truth. Our whole existence is suffering. When you approach the drunk guy, with or without anger, you are already experiencing this suffering. Anger is there as a habit of relating to people and the world. Anger is a temporary condition. Why complicate it and call it 'righteous'? Contemplating your own anger is not impossible. People spend their whole lives fighting it, trying to change it.

chownah
Posts: 8437
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Anger

Post by chownah » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:04 am

Did the buddha ever mention anger as being useful on the path? Seem to me like always said to get rid of it. Is the opposite of anger good will (metta)? Should we forgoe metta and instead cultivate anger in some situations?
chownah

mal4mac
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:47 pm

Re: Anger

Post by mal4mac » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:47 pm

PuerAzaelis wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:39 pm
The second is the large (as in, large) framed picture of Kwan Yin serenely standing on the back of a raging dragon he removed from his backpack and his subsequent explanation of how her view (stance? attitude?) might possibly assist me (me, as in, the person who had presented him with this hypothetical) in calming my anger which, in turn, would permit me to be more in control of myself in order to deal with the situation as it required, etc. etc. etc.
So how would you deal with the person? Its' interesting you say nothing about acting, and nothing about the Zen monk indicating what action to take. I worry that Buddhism, in general, focuses too little on taking action.

If there was little doubt the gun man was about to start shooting innocent people, and me, I'd shoot him, and I'm not sure if it matters or not if I'm angry or not when I do so. Thinking of Aristotle again, he recommended a "middle way", so I'd hope to be just angry enough to want, and have the energy, to act, but calm enough to assess the situation correctly.

Actually the Dalai Lama was questioned about this, in the context of a personal assassination attempt, and he said he would shoot the gun man, but remain compassionate towards him, and help him afterwards.

https://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/dalailama.asp
- Mal

User avatar
PuerAzaelis
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:44 pm

Re: Anger

Post by PuerAzaelis » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:17 pm

I think HHDL’s answer to the question as to whether to shoot the guy was something along the lines of, if it was clear there was no other choice, I would give the matter serious consideration. Lol.
Generally, enjoyment of speech is the gateway to poor [results]. So it becomes the foundation for generating all negative emotional states. Jampel Pawo, The Certainty of the Diamond Mind

binocular
Posts: 6878
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Anger

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:07 pm

L.N. wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:01 pm
Sometimes people express anger as a social tool out of compassion without having anger in the heart. For example, in a classroom, a teacher might speak sharply to a student, yet not actually be angry. The student thinks the teacher is angry.
And the effect on the student is the same, whether the teacher is really angry, or just pretends to be angry.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

User avatar
L.N.
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:01 pm

Re: Anger

Post by L.N. » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:12 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:07 pm
L.N. wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:01 pm
Sometimes people express anger as a social tool out of compassion without having anger in the heart. For example, in a classroom, a teacher might speak sharply to a student, yet not actually be angry. The student thinks the teacher is angry.
And the effect on the student is the same, whether the teacher is really angry, or just pretends to be angry.
This may be true. In the case of a pupil, the long-term effect may be positive if it reinforces good behavior. See this discussion.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: cappuccino, Majestic-12 [Bot], Sam Vara, Sobhana, Wizard in the Forest and 162 guests