• Luigi

When You Get Angry, A Little Cooling-off Time Will Protect One and All



Buddhism teaches many seeds that bring us happiness -- good deeds. Shakyamuni Buddha summed them up into six. They are called the Six Paramitas*. Last time we learned about the second one, discipline” (keeping promises). This month, let’s learn about the third one, forbearance. This means patience, or holding back anger.

We have a lot of stress in our daily lives. We often get angry at small things. When we get angry, we sometimes say things we'd never usually say or get violent. We may realize after we calm down that actually, we were raging over something that was completely trivial. Even if we try to keep our anger under control, we are sometimes provoked by others' anger. If we fight back under the influence of anger, anger will lead to more anger, and we may destroy everything around us. Finally we may find ourselves standing all alone, dumbfounded over what we've done. The Sutra of the Repository of Miscellaneous Treasures teaches us how horrible anger is. One household helper roasted beans for her master every day. One day, a sheep kept at the house sneakily ate some of the beans while the household helper was looking elsewhere. When she served the beans without knowing that, the master scolded her because there were fewer beans. Having lost the confidence of her master, she couldn’t contain her anger. After that she would hit the sheep with a stick whenever she saw it. This act of anger led the sheep to get angry too, and it waited for a chance to get back at her.


One day, the sheep saw the household helper carrying a brazier. The sheep thought now was its best chance because she didn’t have a stick. It dashed at the woman, knocking the brazier out of her hands.Oh no! Flames dropped onto the sheep’s back. Trying to put out the fire, it ran out of the house and rubbed its back against the walls of the other houses in the area. These houses began to burn and finally the whole village was burned down. The fire even reached a mountain. Five hundred monkeys lost their refuge and died.

In Buddhism, it is taught that anger is one of the three poisonous passions, which are the most dreadful of all the worldly passions*. Anger burns down all goodness*. The exchange of anger brings horrible results. The flames of anger spread far and wide, for a long time. As the saying goes, “Anger begins with recklessness and ends in regret.” We lose rationality when we lose our temper.

An executive member of Japan's Self-Defense Forces got angry because his wife didn’t see him off at the door. He set fire to his house and burned his four children to death. Another man lost his temper and bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer because she woke him up and complained, “Because of you, my computer is broken!” A moment's anger may destroy a person’s life: such incidents occur one after another. Some people say, “If you hate someone, lead the person to get angry. You can ruin his or her life without getting your hands dirty.” When you get angry and find it difficult to control it, just leave the place and take time to cool down. If you can’t leave the place, count to ten and wait for your anger to pass. It is very useful to look at yourself from an outside point of view and observe, “Hey, look, I am angry now. Where does this anger come from?” We should be careful never to be driven by the impulse of anger.

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footnote

Six Paramitas: Giving (Kindness), Discipline (Keeping promises), Forbearance (Patience), Diligence (Effort), Contemplation(Self-reflection), and Wisdom (Self-cultivation)

Worldly passions:

These are things that trouble and torment us. Each person has 108 worldly passions. Among them, desire, anger, and envy are particularly dreadful; they are called the three poisonous passions.

Goodness: Good deeds taught in Buddhism

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The Buddha’s wisdom is the light which brightens our life. If we practice the teachings, our daily life will dramatically change.

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