Anger is either destructive (on a relative level) or focuses attention (which destroys on an ultimate level).
There are injustices in the world – deliberate lies, false assumptions, ignorant gossip. Anger is a moralistic emotion where we feel fully justified, and clearly “in the right” about whatever has upset us. However, this approach merely gets us deeper into ‘debt’: the karmic debt of an angry atmosphere that will be thrown back at us at some time.
Even though we are aware of it, anger still arises in the mind. It just happens. We see and feel things, and there is a reaction. It’s the reason I write a blog! 😀
So how do we purify anger? With guidance, we transform it (or any emotion) into wisdom. In fact, all negative emotions are, in essence, wisdoms. “Not a lot of people know this!” I wonder why?
Thoughts and emotions are empty of any inherent existence of their own – we make them up. The realisation that all thoughts and emotions are empty of true reality is wisdom. Basically, thoughts and emotions fill up our mind, and we believe them. It’s all ‘make-and-believe’.
Change takes place when we realise the pain that anger – or any other emotion – causes. As a result, we experience regret. But what’s done is done. Regret is the first stage for purification. This is the application of the first noble truth – the acknowledgement of suffering.
The second noble truth is recognising the cause of this suffering, which is ignorance of our true nature of essential, pure, empty consciousness. We are already pure but do not realise it: because of this ignorance, we obsess about this and that.
The third noble truth is finding the method that arrests suffering. First, we have to be introduced to our true nature, as this is where everything is seen or recognised. Our true nature is pure conscious awareness, empty of contamination. It’s our bare, open mind. It’s what we are. But it is obscured by our make-believes.
When we see something that upsets us, makes us unhappy, disappoints us, worries us or causes us disorder, a strong feeling of displeasure arises: that is anger. Why anger? It’s connected to other emotions of pride, jealousy, fear, desire, ignorance. Our reactions turn anger into aggression and hostility. Here is where a verifiable method comes in: before unhappiness, disappointment, worry or disorder were created … there was seeing! What is seeing? Our true nature of pure, conscious awareness, empty of contamination. Our bare, open mind. What we are. We see it, therefore we are not it.
The method now turns into the fourth noble truth: remaining open.
In the very first instant, the emotions brighten the mind by focusing our attention. That bright openness – clarity – is wisdom. It is from there that love and compassion arise, because we can empathise with others’ suffering. Anger is mirror-like wisdom – it just reflects. Each of the other emotions has a corresponding wisdom.
What we do about the reflection will depend on our capacity and motivation.