No word has an independent, self-existent meaning. The meaning of every word depends upon the general agreement of those who use it.
Take the word Anger for example. See its meaning in the Buddha’s teaching, which has a similar meaning in widespread public use.
Anger has a direct and inseparable relationship to an unresolved issue in the mind. Anger is the impulsive or slowing burning reaction influenced by past views.
Anger/blame/aggression/negativity carries with it an intention to hurt, upset, undermine, threaten or demonise another or group. This state of mind ignores the ethical issue and the importance of clarity of mind. An outburst of anger blocks the opportunity to see what is arising between people or anger directed at oneself.
The intensity or frequency of such reactivity can lead to self-harm or harm upon another or violence. It does not take much to add fuel to the fire of anger. Thoughts can form on ways to get back at the other, such as abuse, attack, withdrawal or setting up unnecessary boundaries even if the person is not a threat. These reveal symptoms of anger with rationalisations for the anger.
Do I have the right to be angry? No.
If I think I have the right to be angry, where do I draw the line? Do I have the right to be very angry? Do I have the right to be abusive? Do I have the right to lash out with violent speech and violent action? Can a person control anger as it builds up when he or she person tell themselves they have a right to be angry?
Anger can carry with it strong emotions, and aggressive use of language, spoken or written. The same blind spot can show itself in a cold, calculating way, lacking feeling. A person detached from feelings and empathy makes lives of another unbearable, such as ongoing sullen attitude or a sudden outburst of rage. These states of mind reveal aversion, projection, desire and memory. All form together to produces an angry person.
There is no point in telling yourself you would never hurt somebody. Anger in speech, whether to little ones and the entire spectrum of ages, can dimmish a person’s sense of their worth/value. Such negatvity can instill fear among the vulnerable. These unresolved states of mind can leave long-standing emotional wounds in another.
It can affect another’s trust, confidence and capacity to deal with challenges .Expressions of such reactivity reveal an image, impression or stereotype about another (s) or about oneself. Anger confirms a false, corrupt impression, out of touch with the bare reality getting in the way of our capacity to deal with situations.
Anger is an unresolve problem acting in insidious ways upon oneself and others.
Violence dwells close to anger. We witness the violence upon people in conflict, wars, the violent treatment of animals including wild animals, farm animals and pets. Government and corporations inflict violence on the Earth in the pursuit of economic growth and profit.
The Buddha never flinches from staying true to non-violence and non-anger. If you wish to walk in the footsteps of the Buddha, you also stay true to the principles of non-violence, non-anger. There are practices to develop a humane and wise way of living. Millions of Buddhists, who justify war, discrimination and project their unresolved issues, need to take an honest look at themselves instead of clinging to harmful views.
In terms of the above, we have no right to be angry. We have no right to justify anger. We have no right to condone anger.
There is enough of this anger in the world. Look at the suffering due to anger. Do we want to add to it?
Can we use the word Anger with a different meaning to the above?
- My partner let me down. I really felt angry.
- Anger gets me to act, to do something about injustice.
- His attitude towards our ethnic communities made me feel angry.
- The UK government wants to withdraw from EU treaty on human rights. This makes me so angry.
- I get angry with myself when I fail to complete the targets, I set myself.
This use of the word Angry can have a different meaning. A person might mean he or she feels intensely passionate about the issues, sharply critical without any wish to cause the person or organisation to suffer. This meaning can also include a campaign to make another accountable for their actions while remaining free from reactivity/revenge.
Displays of so-called righteous anger often lack any power to take wise steps to resolve a situation. A person had strong, feelings, emotions and views, which faded away after the conversation – until the next conversation. The conversation serves as a way of getting some temporary relief from the pressure that has built up within.
What do you mean when you use the word Anger?
Never hesitate to ask another what he or she means when they use the word. The difference between the desire to dump anger on another/oneself and the determination to act without interest to inflict negative projections matters.
Be honest with yourself. Examine your motives.
Honesty belongs to Truth.
Truth transforms lives.
May all beings live with clarity
May all beings free from aggression
May all beings live with wisdom.
Right on Christopher! We do need to be honest with ourselves and diffuse anger as much as possible. We don’t always want to sit with our anger but it is great to see it diffuse. Peace to all beings!