There is a nice piece about the elimination of anger at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/piyatissa/bl068.html written by Piyatissa Thera. These kinds of teachings are very important and beautiful. They represent the Hinayana point of view. Why not just enjoy being good? Simple really - or maybe not always. There are some further things to be said.

The suggestion is that when one is completely illuminated spiritually one never becomes angry. It is probably true that anger in such a person is more rare and occurs in a different way for different reasons.

There is, of course, a difference between what we feel and what we do. It is possible to train oneself not to express anger even if one feels it. Is that a good thing? Sometimes it ia a matter of good manners. The English are, perhaps, particularly good at expressing anger in oblique ways, such as damning with faith praise or using irony. At least this can have an element of humour in it, but it can still cut or burn.

Probably, the best one can do sometimes is to divert the energy into a different channel. We can see this kind of sublimation at work in many people who support social or political causes. Behind their altruism is a rage about something.

What Would Buddha Do?
It does appear that the Buddha expressed himself rather fiercely on some occasions. In the Snake Simile sutta poor Arittha gets a thorough dressing down for misrepresenting the Buddha's teaching, for instance. The Buddha’s position on angry expression, if if you like to call it that, is that it is only appropriate when it actually does some good. This means, really, that the enlightened person does not get angry just out of feelings of personal hurt. This is right because enlightenment is that state in which one is not caught up in conceit.

We can probably all think of times when somebody else's anger has brought us to our senses about something or made us desist from doing something foolish. These times are not common, but they certainly occur. The problem here is that it takes the wisdom of Solomon to know in advance what the outcome will be. Anger is an emergency reaction and/or an expression of extreme displeasure - just as the Buddha was displeased with Arittha -  and these are not times when one is most considered in one's actions. In fact, it is probably substantially because, at such a moment, one feels the impact of something that is not calculated that makes the encounter powerful. So the injunction to only get angry when you judge that it is wise to do so is a tall order. There probably is a split second in which such a judgement might occur, but no more.

So it is not much use having an injunction that demands that one make a judgement before getting angry - things don't work that way. What is needed, and I think this is what Buddha means, is that by being beyond conceit one then only gets angry on those occasions where something of much wider than merely personal interest is at stake and these are the occasions when it might do some good.

Nonetheless, overall, I think that what is really important is that what happens between people is authentic and real. In the longer run, that is what "does good". Trying to assess goodness of outcome on some utilitarian basis is really spiritual materialism and not going to work.

The Flame of Life
As far as those who still are, in varying degrees, caught in the web of conceit, one should recognise that the anger they express - or the other passions, whatever they may be - is their life energy. It is the sign that they are alive and it is exactly the same energy as will make them/us into an enlightened person.

Anger is one of the first emotions to appear in the baby. The baby knows how to cry and scream and this is how it stays alive. It is the only power it has. When it is hungry or needs something its only way of getting it is to scream. The good parent says, “My! He’s got a good voice.” That baby is still alive and well inside us and although one can organise one's life so that it is not roused so often, I doubt that there are many of us who do not feel that infantile rage mounting from time to time..

The Reviler Story
If we think of the story of the Reviler who comes and abuses the Buddha, we remember that when he has stopped insulting the Buddha, the Buddha then asks him if he sometimes has guests come to his house and the Reviler says he does and the Buddha asks if, when guests come he offers them food and a resting place and the Reviler says that he does, and the Buddha then asks “But if, Brahmin, your visitors do not accept what you offer, to whom does it then belong?” The Reviler says, “Well, if they do not accept them, they stay with me,” and the Buddha then says, “It is just so in this case. You revile and scold us who do not do so back. So we do not accept what you offer, so it stays with you, it belongs to you, Brahmin.”

Now the moral of this story is clear and useful, but if one thinks about and imagines the incident, we actually have here a rather reasonable Brahmin who is willing to listen to what the Buddha is saying and, if this incident actually occurred, then the Buddha must have sensed that speaking in this way would, in this case, do some good. If so, then this is a rare case. Normally, if one spoke as the Buddha did to an angry person one would get a response something like: “You think you’re so clever, don’t you? Look at you, all full of your own cleverness. Proud! That’s what you are. Proud, and too clever for your own good.” and the abuse would not stop, but be amplified.

There is a story about a person coming to a talk by another Dharma master and heckling and abusing for some time until the master stood up, looked at him fiercely and said with his full power voice “Get out of here. Right now. Go!” and the man left. The next day, the master met the man in another situation and was perfectly friendly to him as if nothing had happened. This was certainly a real incident and something real happened between the two men.

Feel the Fever
I could say that in my life I have learnt to control my anger, but it is not really a strictly accurate thing to say. It would be truer to say that I get angry only much more rarely than I did and that even on those rare occasions, I tend not to lose my objectivity about what is happening. I feel the feeling welling up and I also see the situation. It is good to feel energy welling up. That is life. I feel wonder at it. I say to myself “You know, I am really angry about this,” as I feel my blood hot and my body tense. I wonder where the anger is going to take me. So I have both feelings simultaneously - the anger and the wonderment. Perhaps I lose some sleep. Of course, the anger does not go on and on for ever, but if I respect it, it usually yields some insight. It shows its colours, we might say, and, in the end, I am wiser for that. Perhaps it turns into another feeling, or perhaps it reveals a connection with something important in my life or perhaps it tells me that there is something that does require decisive action, or whatever.

So, yes, overcome hatred by love, but not just naively and superficially and not in a formulaic way that is liable to escalate rather than really defuse the tension.

The Big Scene
The same is true at the level of international politics. Right now in the world what is required is more understanding. We in the West need to understand why the Russians feel so paranoid about NATO bringing its lethal weaponry closer and closer to their borders and why so many Arab people distrust us. Because we think that our way of life is best, we see nothing wrong in spreading it, but other people, who do not think it is best, experience this as invasive. So we tend not to see what they see and they do not see what we see. What is needed is not so much that we all stop being angry with each other - though that might be a natural outcome - we need rather to stop being so conceited,thinking our way is best. That was the essential teaching of Buddha. It is conceit that is the root of the problem, not the existence of emotional energy. The latter, when stirred up by the former is a problem, but the problem is solved by overcoming the former - the conceit - not be suppressing the latter - the emotional energy.

Confidence in Love & Understanding
The baby is not to be despised. For sure it is good to grow up and I am all for spiritual maturity, but I respect the child too. The child has the raw energy that the adult needs. As we grow up we learn to turn a lot of that energy against itself which produces a kind of inner exhaustion. If our lives are to bloom, we need to liberate that energy and we will not do so by repression, only by the growth of confidence in love and understanding and by seeing through our own conceit.

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