We might not be sure whether a Buddha gets angry, but we're certain that anger stalks us. In this talk, Jonathan explores how to practice with our anger by walking that knife's edge between denial and indulgence.
This week, we asked 'Does a Buddha get angry?' Well, who knows? But it's clear that anger stalks each of us, so maybe a better question is 'What do we do with our anger?'
The Buddha taught that we must inhabit that knife's edge between denying our anger (a particularly common tactic among spiritual seekers) and indulging our anger (a response held widely in our culture.) This practice is subtle and not for the faint-hearted: lean too far towards denial and we fall into the hell of aversion; lean too far towards indulgence and we fall into the hell of grasping.
We can indulge our anger by acting out (raging, speaking unkindly, imposing physical violence) but we can also indulge our anger by 'acting in.' A common type of 'acting in' is rumination, in which we turn the story over and over, deepening our suffering with every rehash. It's important to return to present-moment awareness of our bodies in order to notice how much our rumination causes us to suffer, leading us to see that our ruminative stories don't explain our suffering; they cause our suffering. Until we see this for ourselves, it's very difficult to release the rumination and transform our anger into understanding and love.
As challenging as this practice may be, success is possible because you have Buddha Nature. If the Buddha could transform his anger, you can transform yours.