Is Anger a Good Thing? Ajahn Plien

Ajahn Plien

Is Anger a Good Thing? Ajahn Plien

Please reflect: is anger a good thing? How long have we been holding on to our aversions? Aren’t we fed up with negativity? Does the burning rage inside make you happy? Don’t you want to purify your mind of it? Don’t you want to live happily? Or would you rather hold on to it and lead a miserable life? If you want your life to move in a positive direction, then inwardly reflect and look at the consequences of anger. You will see that its conquest is the most important thing.

Now, how can we do this so as to be happy? If we realize the worthless and painful nature of anger, it is easier to give it up. We need to wisely reflect with mindfulness: “I have been caught in this endless ongoing cycle of anger which has perpetuated itself since beginning less time”. So what should we do first to curb this emotion and then completely abandon it, banishing it from our hearts and minds?

This is achievable through the practice of patience and humility. Here’s an example: Let’s say we want something to be done in a particular way and instruct an appropriately skilled person on the specifications. Despite meticulous instruction it does not get done that way. This may rile us. But rather than getting irritated, we can develop composure and remain silent, containing any arisen frustration within ourselves. By acting in this way, it just ends there.

In whatever social setting we are, we should endeavor to abandon feelings of vexation. If we do get upset and can no longer endure a situation, then it’s best to remove ourselves from that situation. Not having contact with those who annoy us will help subdue the resentment. This is a means of temporarily abandoning ill will. It will check the anger until we meet that person or situation again.

Avoidance of people who anger us cannot resolve the situation. Instead, we try to cultivate forbearance towards those who trigger such feelings in us. Endeavor to find skillful ways to see things from their perspective, their point of view. By understanding them more completely, we learn to live together amiably, communicate harmoniously, with less argument, anger, ill will or prejudice.

This reflection by Luang Por Plien is from the talk, The Abandoning of Anger, (pdf) pp. 7, 8, made available in English through The Sangha, Wat Aranyavivek, Chiang Mai, Thailand.