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What is Anger?

MutleyMutley Somerset UK Explorer

What is anger? My suggestion is that it is a reaction to a comparison. E.g. you have a particular image of someone, parent, relative, partner, friend and expect them to act in a certain way (kindly, generous, understanding). Their behaviour falls below your expectation (they are mean, obtuse, unfeeling). Your reaction is to project a yang energy.

So the response should be to cultivate a yin energy (understanding, kindness, forgiving). The other thing to look at is that you are attached to a particular image of someone. This invokes the Second Noble Truth. So the thing to do is to always be objective in relationships, including your own part in the relationship. Always seek knowledge, life is a Gnostic journey.

Just a few thoughts of my own, not intended as a sermon and I would like to hear the views of others.

lobsterBunksDhammaDragon

Comments

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Mutley said: What is anger? My suggestion is that it is a reaction to a comparison. E.g. you have a particular image of someone, parent, relative, partner, friend and expect them to act in a certain way (kindly, generous, understanding). Their behaviour falls below your expectation (they are mean, obtuse, unfeeling).

    Yes, anger often does seem related to that sense of disappointment and frustration, expecting or wanting somebody / something to be a particular way.

  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Mutley said:
    What is anger?

    I do not know. I've answered this question before, and it sounded good enough to elicit 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from folks who haven't really spent much time contemplating but I'm pretty sure that it was little more than a guess, spoken confidently, and designed to stroke my own ego by showing how darn smart I am. I'd prefer not to do that again. Today I'll settle on saying that it seems to always come from wrong view, as opposed to Right View.

    Mostly today, I try to quell anger rather than figure it out. It's different than my usual motis operandi, so there's a good chance it's right (for me). I've found the following quote, from a fellow know as Dr. Paul found in the AA big book, helpful:

    And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

    Of course, I've had to do some gentle mental gymnastics around the word 'god' but I've found that acceptance leads to serenity, and serenity cannot exist simultaneously with anger.

    karastilobsterDhammaDragon
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    All very relevant to me as my anger is fear and frustration based. :3
    I also like to compare myself to Bodhi Tara, Shakyamuni or other idealisations ... and end up having to accept I am a rubbish Buddhist :cry:

    However anger and fear can be very motivating as an emotive fuel, if not overwhelmed. This is the basis of Tantra ...

    My 'yang energy' as you put it, is most manifest in the body and I find that is something I can look for and accept/relax/let go ...

    Anger for me has karmic roots, due in part to emotional suppression, which my father used to cope with his undiagnosed mental health issues. So it is a behaviour inheritance.

    KeromeShimDhammaDragon
  • In my experience, I've noticed that anger rises quite rapidly when I perceive things in others that I have perceived in myself. Possibly a past selfish attitude I had, or something else. And on the other side of the coin, when I have perceived myself in the negative light, I also see anger rise toward others. Of course, this is dualistic thinking.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Yes, I can see that....and that may be the BASIS of the anger. The immediate cause of the anger is fear of loss of control. That would mean handing control of the situation you are at loggerheads about, over to the other angry person.
    This is fundamentally why people argue, fight and get angry. To try to either retain, or wrest control.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @yagr said:.. I've found that acceptance leads to serenity, and serenity cannot exist simultaneously with anger.

    Yes, good point. It's like an example of Right Effort, cultivating skillful stuff to "displace" the unskillful stuff.

    yagr
  • Anger is just a trait that some living beings carry for survival. If somehow we can learn to live with one another, we are better off to evolve without it. We are as far away from that ever happening as evolution can suggest.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @namarupa said:
    Anger is just a trait that some living beings carry for survival. If somehow we can learn to live with one another, we are better off to evolve without it. We are as far away from that ever happening as evolution can suggest.

    Yes - survival. I don't tend to gussy it up with some psychological stuff because anger is a basic emotion that to me, is justified in and of itself. If some person's actions or whatever, threatens my survival, then there's nothing 'wrong' with anger. The more vulnerable (children, small beings) their response to life-threatening behavior and situations usually is turned in on itself (repression) so I say anger is a good thing. It informs of danger.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I realised something about anger... Anger in itself is something that passes quickly, that you can feel and not cling to it. The problems come when you let anger motivate you, when you let it direct your actions. The first thing it does is it searches for ways to hurt the Other, it looks for ways to inflict pain. Often it is angry words that follow. And during its search anger becomes gleeful with anticipation, as it considers all of these things.

    But the mere process of anger searching within you for a way to hurt its object is something that can be mindfully observed, if you are aware. If you are wise, you let anger come and go without even starting it's search - it finds much of its power in gleefulness, and denying it that limits its capacity.

    silverlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Anger is the extreme version of when things don't go the way one would like them to....

    DhammaDragon
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 2016

    I tend to view anger as an aggressive response to dukkha. It's the feeling of not wanting something to be the way that it is, whether it's a mental state or some external situation that we dislike. I think it originates out of our fight or flight response and our instinct to defend ourselves from things that can potentially harm us. So in that sense, I do see it as a reaction, one that's very difficult to change/overcome once that energy and its corresponding hormones are released into our bodies. Trying to be objective is a good antidote, as well as preventative. So is cultivating metta and compassion and detachment (i.e., psychological distance from the objects that give rise to anger).

    lobsterDhammaDragon
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    An effective antidote for anger is patience...Patience is the "buffer zone" the "time out" period , which allows clarity to make a come back....In a basic sense, anger happens when one is not paying 'any' attention to ones breath....

    The breath is like the built in catalyst for increasing ones patience for when one is battling to prevent a build up of what is for the most part just energy in motion....

    It's there with us all the time but more often than not it goes unnoticed....

    It's funny because one of the key ingredients to meditation is to pay attention to ones breath, and when the mind begins to drift off, one is meant to 'gently' bring the attention back to the breath...

    KeromeDhammaDragon
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    @Federica said: > Anger is Fear.

    In much of my experience, fear seems to come first, and anger follows it. A rather extreme example might occur when running a dog team, and a couple of the dogs become angry at each other and begin to fight - such a fight escalates very quickly and can involve every dog in the team trying to tear every other dog in the team to pieces.

    The driver's immediate reaction is fear - My God, those dogs are going to kill each other! The next reaction is anger or something very like anger, because the only thing that will stop the fight is a display of anger greater than that of the dogs themselves. So, curiously, anger may well be the skillful response to anger, yet it finds its source both in fear for others and in compassion for others,

    In practice, the driver's anger is something that he or she uses as a tool, but does not attach to, and lays aside once the fight has subsided.

    As @lobster observes, > anger and fear can be very motivating as an emotive fuel, if not overwhelmed. This is the basis of Tantra ...

    Though I don't know many mushers who think of themselves as Tantrists ..... O.o

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I think the Fear is always there, to some degree. With those who manifest Anger often, I would say they live in a state of unconscious, or subliminal Fear.

    lobsterRuddyDuck9pegembaraPJK
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    I was once accustomed to and reliant on anger as a defense mechanism for being depressed.

    I seem to remember projecting hate onto the world to mask the fear of being alone and unaccepted.

    Now the only time I seem to get angry is when I am not mindful of my impatience or when I see somebody hurting somebody else.

    Would it be my fear of being hurt still after all the time I spent alone and being good with it or is it just that stupid people (those that harm others without shame) piss me off?

    Either is a failing of sorts but still.

    lobster
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited July 2016

    @federica said:> Which is basically what I already said. Jeesh why don't people read the thread!? Is it so hard?? Is it really too much to ask people to at least read previous contributions, before com

    Yeah, and another thing, why don't people read the previous comments?! :p

    WalkerShoshin
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited July 2016

    One thing that gets me riled is people being dishonest and making stuff up. Grrr! There's a lot of that on the internet of course.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I think this is a healthy attitude when reading stuff on the general w.w.w...

    dhammachick
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    This all sounds very familiar to me. Myself being hurt or harmless things being hurt by others can still trigger my anger, but lately I have found that mindfulness can help me watch the sequence of anger's formation inside. I've found it to be slower now than in the past, but still quick enough for it to catch me out sometimes and not allow me to gain detachment...

    @David, do you truly think it is a failing? I find I struggle somewhat with Buddhism next to the natural path. In essence we are born with anger as an intrinsic response, evolution (or whatever placed us here) meant for us to experience it. When we choose the Buddhist path, we modify our responses, we gain awareness, detachment, we depart from what is natural to consciously shape our destiny.

    RuddyDuck9
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Kerome;

    I wouldn't say experiencing anger is a failing but letting it control me instead of me controlling it is the failing.

    RuddyDuck9lobsterKeromeShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    What is anger?

    One could say anger is a strong desire for Loving Kindness

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    @Silver. I haven't heard heard anyone use the phrase "gussy it up" in quite a long time. It has been a pleasure to hear it used once again.

    silver
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I realised something about anger... Anger in itself is something that passes quickly, that you can feel and not cling to it. The problems come when you let anger motivate you, when you let it direct your actions. The first thing it does is it searches for ways to hurt the Other, it looks for ways to inflict pain. Often it is angry words that follow. And during its search anger becomes gleeful with anticipation, as it considers all of these things.

    tee hee - I should not laugh :3
    You mean hating fish and shouting at them as a basis of dietrary inclinations is unnacceptable? What about those drivers who are too stupid to own cars? Surely one should yell at them to improve public safety? Also if no one shouts at Trump, we could have 'Mr Angry' as El-Presedente?

    m m m ... maybe I can just shout at myself? Is that what I have been doing? Tsk, tsk ... Could be anger plan ... :p

  • Anger does not always accompany hate. Sometimes it comes from love and attachment. It is almost always the result of fear of loss. One could almost say that without fear there is no anger.

  • techietechie India Veteran

    When you see the poor being exploited, for example, you may get angry at the injustice of it all. Or when a woman is violated and society blames her (as it often happens where I live). In such cases also you experience anger, but this anger is completely different, is it not? No fear or ill will or frustration, just moral indignation.

    Steve_B
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 2016

    ^^. Yes 'moral indignation' is a good case of justified wrathfulness. Ahimsa which has a long tradition in Buddhism, includes protection and - I say this very carefully - utilising our negative capacities skilfully.

    Moral indignation, engaged Buddhism can all stem from strong emotions.

    Hate Trump! Hate hate! [oops too far?] :o

    Vote for Real Cheese!
    Make America Grate Again. ;)

    RuddyDuck9
  • "Alcoholism" sounds like a religion I could get into.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I sincerely hope you're joking. That's honestly quite a crass remark. There are people on here who have alcoholic relatives friends and partners.

    Jeesh, foot in mouth syndrome or what?

    lobster
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited November 2016

    For me, anger is a pain in my body. Specifically my head and jaw. Anger is my own personal self arse kicking device. I read not too long ago the following sage advice from either Lama Surya Das or Thich Nhat Hanh Anger lasts 90 seconds as a physiological experience. If you continue to experience anger after 90 seconds, it's because you're CHOOSING to

    It really slapped me in the face to read this because I realised this was exactly what I was doing. I have to remind myself EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. lately that I'm responsible for my anger and in turn, my pain. And that's kinda lame. For me, anger is my not so gentle reminder to reexamine where I'm at, why I've deviated/f@#&ed up, and to centre, breathe and focus.

    Today I failed - again :confused: There's always tomorrow right?

    _ /\ _

    lobsterDhammaDragonFosdickShoshin
  • Good post @dhammachick

    I swore at the radiator for not coming on quick enough today :3
    I have a lot of anger/angst/dukkha in me. Lots.
    However we try, we practice. Yes we fail. AND we are compassionate towards others failings/meat eating :p/less than optimum efforts as well as and oh so importantly our own.

    OK am off to give the cat a good angry kicking. Fortunately we don't have a cat ... just as well on this All Saints Day :p

    dhammachickDhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem Samsara Loop Veteran
    edited November 2016

    Anger response implies resistance or lack of acceptance of reality as it is, or what is the same: expecting reality to be what we want it to be.
    That has more or less been said.
    It is the way we express our frustration when we come face to face with dukkha, when something or someone tampers with our goals and expectations.

    Fear is at the base because it is a clumsy way to strive to protect the self, the persona, the identity we have created and which we perceive under attack.

    The state of mind in which we are affects the way we respond to external situations.
    In a conversation with HH the Dalai Lama, psychologist Paul Ekman wrote that there was a time in his life, after his mother's death, when he was so poisoned by hatred, that it facilitated the anger response whenever he was blocked by someone:

    " The long-term poison was that it made me into a person easily angered toward anyone, about anything. [...] It may be that if hatred develops and is maintained, that its maintenance reorganizes the brain in a way that facilitates anger."

    He then described two moments as vital: developing the skill to become aware of the impulse to become angry and not engage with it, i.e: not to become angry, or if we fail to recognize the impulse, i.e: if we have become angry, how to better brace ourselves not to act out on it.

    Shoshinsilverlobsterdhammachick
  • Exactly so @DhammaDragon. Well said.

    I knows it. I blows it.

    Knowing and implementing/practicing is ongoing ...
    Anger really is the dark side - fear, frustration of expectations, hatred etc.

    For me a big part was an upbringing based on emotional suppression. Very unhealthy. Anger and passion are very much related. More adult.

    Compassion and kindness for our emotive being is the key ...

    Many thanks.

    DhammaDragonPJK
  • smarinosmarino florida Explorer
    edited November 2016

    In my experience, anger that is directed toward another is nearly always simply another form of fear. Something has "offended" or threatened some part of our ego and it is reacting to that. When I am in a meditative state on a cushion or out and about in mindfulness, it's hard to imagine being angry. Things are only what they are, and there is no opportunity for anger in that realm. Only when my ego comes into play is anger going to be there. My ego seems to be all about fear.

    If it's anger at myself, it can be useful in motivating me to change my behavior. Many, many times I have felt that anger toward someone else was justified, but when I cooled down later I realized that it didn't need to play out that way.

    It's dangerous to have pat answers or fixed ideas on this or anything else though. If someone were to grab my finger and repeatedly force it into a fire I would feel anger at them, and I don't really see where that would not be unjustified. Every situation is unique. Even if it has happened a thousand times before, it is still the first time that particular situation has occurred. So we should always do what is appropriate at that particular moment in time, and I could see how anger might theoretically be appropriate in certain situations. Like most of life's challenges, it just depends. It's situational, not fixed.

    But still, I think that anger, justified or not, originates from fear. That was the original question..... what is it? I got off track there a bit. For that, I am angry at myself for being inattentive, and also grateful that I caught it :]

    Life's a mixed bag, ain't it?

    Keromelobsterdhammachick
  • PJKPJK UK Explorer

    Fear/Anger...Conditioning and genetics?

  • I think it depends on what it's mixed with. If it's frustration, it has a different feel to if it's with hatred. The Dalai Lama has said (not sure where) that anger per se isn't a problem but if it's mixed with hatred then you have a problem.

    Anger for me is some energy build up that taps into an aspect of my ego and that the energy and the ego get mixed up together. It's not until I'm calmer that I can see where the ego is confronted.

    Further than that, I have no idea of what anger is in the same way I have no idea of what any emotion is.

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