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The Attitude of Patience
(or hostility) can arise towards people, objects, or our own suffering (such as,
when we’re sick). It arises due to exaggerating the negative qualities of a
person, object, or situation, or by superimposing negative qualities that aren’t
there. Anger then wants to harm the source of the unhappiness. Anger (hostility)
is a generic term that includes being irritated, annoyed, critical, judgmental,
self-righteous, belligerent, and hostile.
Disadvantages of Anger
By reflecting on your own
experiences, examine if anger is destructive or useful.
Are you happy when
Do you see a pattern in
the type of situations in which you become angry or the people with whom you
get angry? What effect does this pattern have on your life?
How do you feel when
you’re angry? Underneath the anger, is there hurt? Fear? Sadness? Anger
often makes us feel powerful when inside we feel powerless. Getting in touch
with the feeling under our anger can help us understand it better.
Do you communicate with
others effectively when you’re angry? Do you aggressively lash out at them?
Do you withdraw and not speak?
What is the effect of
your actions on others? Does your anger bring about the happiness that you
Later when you’re calm,
how do you feel about what you said and did when you were angry? Is there
shame, guilt, or loss of self-esteem?
How do you appear in
others’ eyes when you’re angry? Does anger promote mutual respect, harmony,
Conclusion: Seeing that
anger and resentment destroy your own and others’ happiness, determine to
observe when it arises in you and to apply these teachings to subdue it.
Antidotes to Anger
Patience is the ability to remain undisturbed in the face of harm or suffering.
Being patient does not mean being passive. Rather, it gives us the clarity of
mind necessary to act or not to act. Each of the following points is a different
method of reducing anger. Take an example from your life of a time you were
angry and practice looking at the situation from this new perspective.
Whether or not what the
other person says is true, there is no reason to get angry when you are
criticized. If what the other person says is true, it is like being told you
have a nose. Both the other person and you know this is true, so there is no
reason to be angry about it. You should simply acknowledge your mistake. On
the other hand, if someone blames you for something you didn’t do, it is as
if the person said you have horns on your head. There’s no reason to be
angry at something that is untrue.
Ask yourself, “Can I do
something about it?” If you can, anger is out of place because you can
improve the situation. If you can’t, anger is useless because nothing can be
Examine how you got involved in the situation. This has two parts:
What actions did you
do recently to prompt the disagreement? Examining this helps you
understand why the other person is upset.
unpleasant actions you did earlier this life. What emotional or
behavioral baggage have you left unfinished? How is it affecting your
life now? Seeing this, you can learn from past mistakes and resolve to
act differently in the future.
Remember the kindness of
a disagreeable person (enemy). First, he or she points out your mistakes so
you can correct them and improve. Second, the enemy gives you the
opportunity to practice patience, a necessary quality in your spiritual
development. In these ways, the enemy is kinder to you than your friends or
even your spiritual mentor.
Give the pain to your selfish attitude by recognizing it is the source of
all your problems.
selfish attitude: “How dare you do this to ME!” “How dare you be different than
ME! MY way is better!”
Ask yourself, “Is it the
person’s nature to act like this?” If it is, there’s no reason to be angry,
for that would be like being annoyed with fire for burning. If it isn’t the
person’s nature, anger is also unrealistic, for it would be like getting
angry at the sky for having airplanes in it, in that it is not the nature of
the sky to have airplanes it, whereas it is the nature of the sky to have
clouds in it.
disadvantages of anger and holding a grudge. Having done so, you will want
to give them up because you want to be happy and you see that they cause
Recognize that it is the
other person’s unhappiness and confusion that makes the person harm you.
Since you know what it’s like to be unhappy, you can empathize and have
compassion for the other person.
that all people are in the same situation, we work to generate a helpful desire
to benefit all people most effectively.