CREDOS: Managing anger — II

Anger makes us sharp and quick to criticise, but anger also helps us see what’s wrong. Our feelings and emotions are actually serving like intelligence agents, bringing in news from the field of our experience. We should not dismiss, ignore, or repress them.

In Tibetan tantric iconography, moreover, not all the Buddhas and meditational deities are pacific. Some are surrounded by flames and wear fierce masks symbolising the shadow side of our psyches. Yet it is always taught that the wrathful buddhas and “dharma protectors” have peaceful Buddha at their hearts. Perhaps this is connected to the modern, Western notion that righteous anger can help drive compassionate action to redress injustices in the world.

Sadly, in our increasingly uncivil, fast-paced, and competitive society, there are plenty of contributing causes of anger. Violence in the media, permissiveness about expressing oneself, accelerating change, and lack of an ethos of personal responsibility are coupled with a growing sense of entitlement and dearth of family and community connection. But the Buddha said that no one can make us angry if the seed of anger is not in our hearts. The truth is, we all have some anger in us. Even the Dalai Lama says he gets angry as does the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The difference is that these two sages know what to do with their anger.

Intense angry feelings don’t automatically become unhealthy. —