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Episode 183 - How to prevent anger

Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Release Date: 11/11/2023

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This episode explores the question “Where does anger come from?” Buddhist teacher, JoAnn Fox, also provides several practical ways to prevent anger from arising (when it typically would)!  Anger doesn’t come from another person or a situation. Anger comes from our thoughts. Specifically, when we pay inappropriate attention to an unpleasant object and dwell on its faults, we work ourselves up until anger arises. That point at which anger is manifest is when the mind is unpeaceful and uncontrolled.  A very sad aspect of anger is that this mental state has the wish to harm. The...

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This episode explores the question “Where does anger come from?” Buddhist teacher, JoAnn Fox, also provides several practical ways to prevent anger from arising (when it typically would)! 

Anger doesn’t come from another person or a situation. Anger comes from our thoughts. Specifically, when we pay inappropriate attention to an unpleasant object and dwell on its faults, we work ourselves up until anger arises. That point at which anger is manifest is when the mind is unpeaceful and uncontrolled. 

A very sad aspect of anger is that this mental state has the wish to harm. The intention to harm is the nature of anger, just as the nature of fire is to burn. We don’t want to harm those we love and cherish, but when we’re angry that mind wants to harm them. That makes Buddha’s advice to turn “ away from the intent to harm” and not “set anger loose” so important for all our relationships. 

The first step in solving an anger problem is to admit we have one and decide we must do something about it. Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this advice to a person who worked as a driver for a Dharma center. The driver complained of being very angry with his family and asked Rinpoche for some mantras to help him. Lama Zopa’s response began:

“My dear one,

You have recognized that anger arising is not good and that you must do something about it. You’re responsible for stopping that problem. Even this is progression toward peace and happiness.”

How beautiful and powerful is this first discovery and the wish to change!

One should not strike a brahmin 

And a brahmin should not set [anger] loose. 

Shame on the one who hits a brahmin 

And greater shame on the one who sets [anger] loose. (389)* 

For the brahmin, nothing is better 

Than restraining the mind 

From what it cherishes. 

Whenever one turns away from the intent to harm, 

Suffering is allayed. (390)

—Buddha, The Dhammapada

Reference with Link

Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 78 (Link)

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