Coax his anger

- through Francois Leclercq

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There are plenty of opportunities to experience the most explosive of the six basic emotions, anger, every day. Whether it is caused by a banal traffic jam or by an injustice of which oneself or others is the victim, anger is anchored to the human experience. But is it an appropriate response to our suffering and frustration, or a source of further unrest?

According to evolutionary psychology, anger is a primary instinctive reflex, a remnant of our primordial animality. One of its functions would be to allow the individual to ensure his survival by asserting himself and thus ensuring a relative peace. But this peace is precarious and deceptive, Buddhism tells us. As much to say it from the start: whoever seeks in the teachings from Siddhartha Gautama some justification for his outbursts, will be on his own account. Because, as the Dalai Lama testifies: “A moment of anger destroys the merits often acquired with difficulty for years (…) Anger is one of the most terrible enemies of the mind. »

A root of suffering

The Buddha teaches that human suffering has its roots in the kleshas, ​​variously translated as "poisons", "passions" or "defilements". These kleshas are three in number: ignorance (avidya), greed (tanha) and aversion (dosa). Véronique Crombé, speaker and Theravada practitioner, explains that “what we translate by aversion is a rejection that can be violent or not. Anger always arises from the frustration of not having obtained what one seeks. This disorder of the mind is intimately linked to the first cause of unease (dukkha): avidya, that is to say ignorance of what our deep nature is. Thus, anger is a more or less aggressive reaction against anything that threatens our illusory ego, that self that we imagine to be dependent and permanent.

Marie-Stella Boussemart, Gelugpa nun, a branch of Vajrayana, improperly called Tibetan Buddhism, remarks in this regard that “the “arhats” (1) and a fortiori the Buddhas have definitively eliminated all the kleshas. This rules out any possibility of a Buddha getting angry. And, adds the Buddhist doctor, Doctor Trinh Dinh Hy, “If you manage to have the least ego possible, the anger disappears immediately. »

Does this mean that Buddhism encourages us to remain passive in the face of injustice and all forms of oppression? Are we facing a tradition that advocates inaction while condemning revolt? No way. Because if anger is an effect of ill-being, developing compassion can put an end to it. And this quality, specifies Marie-Stella Boussemart, “includes an aspect that one could possibly call “indignation in the face of the suffering of others” or even “to feel the suffering of others as inadmissible” (and therefore to want to release). »

Replace anger with action

We remember the fights of Abbé Pierre for the poorest and his remarks in the face of inequities, he who affirmed: "If we are without anger when we see others flouted, exploited, humiliated, it is clear that we do not love them not. However, Dr. Dinh Hy Trinh reminds us that the founder of Emmaus, despite his diatribes against the powerful of this world, never committed an act of violence against anyone. “It is in this case anger that is transformed into action for the compassion of people. But, it is important to be vigilant not to feel hatred towards those who caused the suffering”.

As much to say it from the start: whoever seeks in the teachings from Siddhartha Gautama some justification for his outbursts will be on his own account.

If it is true that anger is, like any strong emotion, a powerful energy, Buddhism also insists on its destructive and difficult to control aspect. Doctor Dinh Hy Trinh recalls the example of Mahatma Gandhi, herald of non-violent action, who, faced with the humiliations suffered by his people, sometimes showed "holy anger" to change the society in which he found himself. found.

Cultivate Compassion

Buddhist wisdom is pragmatic and gives concrete ways to uproot the negative emotions. “We are not trying to repress a negative emotion, says Dr. Dinh Hy Trinh, but to bring out a positive emotion. For that, the doctor adds that the practice of the four immeasurables (benevolence, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity) is more than necessary. These four qualities are considered remedies for conflicting situations that arise from family and social relationships. To help us develop them and end the anger in the Madhyama Agama (2), Sariputra, the first disciple of Buddha, advises monks on five methods. Paying attention to the thoughts, words, kind acts of an irritating person, in order to forget what we think they are hurting us at the moment. And if that is too difficult, the sage calls on his disciples to remember that if a person is unlovable, it is because he is in great pain.


However, in a fit of fury, others recommend the exercise of full presence, without analysis, to what is playing in us at the moment. Follower of Vipassana meditation, Véronique Crombé advises to observe his anger, “without denying it, but to recognize it for what it is. Without being instinctively led by it. And then to wonder: where did it come from? What are the circumstances that made her come, so that in comparable circumstances it does not happen again? »

“If we are without anger when we see others ridiculed, exploited, humiliated, it is clear that we do not like them. " Abbot stone

What then of the tantric practices of Vajrayana, which propose to use the energies of negative emotions as a soil on which to rely? On this subject, the nun Gelugpa Marie-Stella Boussemart recalls that “tantras are high teachings and in principle secret. Westerners are attracted by tantras. But for lack of having the keys, there are many misunderstandings, misinterpretations, etc. ". The method of antidotes which consists in transforming a negative energy into its opposite, easy to understand in theory, requires like any Buddhist practice, to be learned and practiced under the guidance of a qualified teacher.

Before embarking on the Buddhist path, showing common sense vis-à-vis your anger or that of others therefore remains a pragmatic and positive solution, accessible to everyone.

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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