December 17 : Damaging Effects of Anger

When we get angry, or when we generate wrong views, we obliterate all the merit and goodness we have worked so hard to put into our consciousness. Even if we have previously dedicated the merit from our good deeds, we get two main results from anger. The first is the negative result of the anger — bad rebirths or hindrances and obstacles in your practice. Also, if you are about to attain a new level or gain insight, anger inhibits the ripening of your good karma. There still might be some residue left if you dedicated it before you got angry, so it is not like your good karmas are completely wiped out. But it is definitely damaged and you have to start all over recreating a lot of the causes for the insight that you might have been just on the verge of getting.

When you think about this, it is kind of scary, at least if you get angry at the rate I do! You may start wondering how you ever have any merit left because anger inhibits here, damages there, blocks there, and destroys here. You think, “All those mornings I got up at four thirty to do prostrations and meditate, I put in so much effort and then I go and get angry at some idiot who might happen to be a Bodhisattva. Since I did not know he is a Bodhisattva, all the effort I put into creating good karma is now damaged.”

Regardless of who the person really is, when we get angry our mind is totally hooked into thinking, “He is an inherently existent idiot from his side, totally independent from me, and this is just who he is.” We need to ask ourselves, “Is getting angry at this person worth destroying all the merit I put so much energy into creating? Am I going to waste my energy and damage myself just by getting mad at somebody I have a bad view of ?” We should conclude that that is crazy, totally nutty. I mean, maybe we could waste some energy on someone we respect, but there is absolutely no benefit in getting angry at someone we do not care for. As soon as you set down the anger, you stop seeing him as an idiot and start realising, “Oh this is all coming from me, it has nothing to do with him. This is just my berserk-y, angry mind that is creating the cause for suffering.”

Sometimes we might think, “Well, it is just a little bit of anger,” or, “It is just irritation, not anger, so it is okay because I am not actually destroying any merit.” But it is not like that, and if we look into our minds we can see how much we are damaged by the irritation and how miserable it makes us even if it is not a full-blown rage. I know from a lot of experience that being irritated is not fun. We should remember that these destructive mental states are just not worth it if we are trying to go towards Buddhahood and cultivate compassion and wisdom. This is the time when self-cherishing can be useful. Out of our own sense of integrity and respect for ourselves, let us not be bothered with anger.

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