spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Writings | World | Brad Warner | Sit Down part 2 | next   

Excerpted from Sit Down and Shut Up by Brad Warner. Copyright © 2007 by Brad Warner. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"It's hard for most of us to admit, but when you start paying attention you'll notice that you actually enjoy being angry."

  Brad Warner,
Sit Down and Shut Up, Part 2

But let's look at the questioner's other point, about how one "should" deal with anger according to Buddhism. He says he's heard anger shouldn't be suppressed. Actually, though, my teacher, Gudo Nishijima, advises his students to always suppress their anger. When I first heard this, it sounded not only absurd but positively unhealthy. Everyone knows you don't bottle up your anger; you have to let it out, or else you explode.

But then I began to look at anger a little more carefully. This I had ample opportunity to do because for most of my life I was one of the most hotheaded people you could ever have hoped to meet -- or, better still, to have avoided meeting. When I really observed my anger, it became apparent that it wasn't some substance that built up inside me that I could "let out" and be rid of. There was nothing into which anger could be bottled. That something I called "me" and that something I called "anger" were completely indistinguishable. I started to see that the process of "letting anger out" was actually the process by which more anger was produced.

When you suppress your anger, though, you've got to do it in the right way. Suppressing anger is not the same thing as what most folks call "keeping it inside." For most of us, "keeping anger inside" is the act of reinforcing anger internally. To really suppress anger, you have to suppress the urge to enjoy the beautiful juiciness of it all.

It's hard for most of us to admit, but when you start paying attention you'll notice that you actually enjoy being angry. There's this wonderful rush of self-righteousness to it. Because, obviously, you can't be angry about something unless you know you're right and the other person is wrong. You are angry because you want to be angry. Always, always.

So what do you actually do to suppress anger? I'll tell you what I do. Or at least what I try to do, since I fail sometimes. Not as often as I used to, though, because unlike any other method I've found for controlling anger, this one actually works because it addresses the real problem in a realistic way.

The main thing is to avoid acting on any angry impulses that might pop into your head. No matter how justified you might know yourself to be, an angry action will only invoke another angry response, both in the person you're dealing with and in yourself. These actions and responses scramble your brain and make it impossible to act in any kind of efficient way to solve the problem at hand.

next ->