Anger Doesn’t Have to Be a Problem

In the current issue of Shambhala Sun, which I referenced in yesterday’s post, there is a short piece by Sylvia Boorstein which reports something the Dalai Lama said.

Asked once “Do you ever get angry? the Dalai Lama laughed, saying, “Of course! Things happen. They aren’t what you wanted. Anger arises. But it doesn’t have to be a problem.”

A simple but very important point. We can’t stop anger from rising, any more than we can stop other feelings from rising. We have no choice about that.

What we do have a choice about is what to do when anger arises. It is our choice whether to grasp onto that anger and act out of it, or to let it go, responding with wisdom and compassion.

Mindfulness helps tremendously in this. If I am aware of the anger at the moment it arises, I can recognize it for what it is and remind myself that I need not follow it.

Boorstein, commenting on what the Dalai Lama said observes, “the momentary constriction that blurs the mind when anger arises is quickly eased by the wisdom that anger is a normal neuronal reaction to displeasure, and not a mandate for any response other than clarity and kindness.”

We have no choice about what feelings arise. We do have a choice how we respond.

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One thought on “Anger Doesn’t Have to Be a Problem

  1. Susan, I know you recognize the potential gift in anger if it is refocused for a creative purpose. Where would we be if MLK had not been angry about injustice? Let’s not squander the gift of “righteous indignation” or outrage too soon. (Yes, I’m preaching to the choir here!)

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