Anger is, unquestionably, the largest obstacle to Buddhist practice — and the most destructive — particularly in anger-prone modern times. Anger suppressed is unhealthy. Anger expressed inappropriately is dangerous. Zasep Rinpoche explains how in Buddhism there are “antidotes” to anger which are not only psychologically sound, they also bring peace and enhance our practice of compassion and Bodhichitta.
In our “Ask the teacher” advice series with the teachers, a student asked Ven. Zasep Rinpoche:
“How do I deal with my anger. Sometimes it consumes me and hurts others.”
In a concise, five-minute teaching, Rinpoche gives advice for this student, appropriate to anyone, and practices that help with our anger. The video ends with a wonderful Bodhichitta chant from amazing vocalist Yoko Dharma — not to be missed!
Full teaching video and mantra chanting here [Transcript below of the teaching.]:
Yoko Dharma’s brilliant vocalization of Refuge in “the Three Jewels and the Four Immeasurables” is used with her kind permission. Information on Yoko Dharma (or to download the track) please visit here>>
Teaching transcript of Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche’s answer
“Anger is destructive mind. A person is angry, to himself or herself, or angry to others.
The nature of the anger is very unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful, restless, destructive. It hurts inside of you. It feels like your heart and your organs in your body are somehow heated up, and burning. Your blood in the body is running faster, going up to the head.
Some people when they get angry — their eyes are red, and their hands are shaking, and the voice changes. You know, you see the body language is changing — and it looks ugly! It looks unpleasant. So, anger is a very unpleasant thing! It makes other people uncomfortable.
Health issues from anger
Some people when they get angry — their eyes are red, and their hands are shaking, and the voice changes. You know, you see the body language is changing — and it looks ugly! It looks unpleasant. So, anger is a very unpleasant thing! It makes other people uncomfortable. It doesn’t look cool.
Anger actually destroys inner peace, destroys love, destroys compassion. Anger destroys virtues. Anger destroys ones own Dharma practice (if it’s not dedicated to the benefit of all sentient beings.)
According to medicine — traditional [Tibetan] medicine — says that anger weakens your heart. People who have lots of anger, most likely, they could have a heart attack [according to Tibetan traditional medicine]. [In Tibetan medicince] people who have lots of sorrow — it weakens your lungs.
Three steps: How do we deal with anger?
Now, how do we deal with anger? First thing, you have to recognize your anger. If you don’t recognize your anger, then you can’t deal with it. You have to acknowledge it. You have to say to yourself, “I am angry. I feel I am angry. I am angry. I have anger issues. Here, again, I am suffering from anger.” You have to acknowledge it first.
The Buddha said, “First you must acknowledge whatever delusion is in you: anger, attachment or ignorance.” Those are the three main delusions. First, you acknowledge.
Then, the second step is you experience. Well, once you acknowledge it, you can experience. You can feel it.
The third step, you have to deal with that anger, then let it go.
So, how do deal with anger?
The mindful breathing antidote method
The method is first, you say “I’m angry, then, you focus your mind on the breath. You do anapranasatti. Do breathing meditation. That helps you to calm down. You take off, or release, the pressure from your heart. Do more breathing meditation.
Breathe in, out, in long, out long. Do, say, ten-minute breathing meditation. That would be good. Or twenty minutes, maybe.
If anger suddenly happens, say you’re on the subway or bus, or your workplace — we don’t have time to sit. What you do, is just have a little break. A two-minute break. Or, go for a walk. Or, just keep silent, and you feel your heart, and you do a little bit of breathing. A couple of minutes. Just breath in, out. That will help you to calm down. Take away the pressure.
Antidote for anger: Metta — love and compassion
Then, after that, you can do different kinds of practice. The antidote for anger, which is love. Ultimately, the antidote for anger is love and compassion.
It is hard to do meditation on love and compassion (Metta) when you are angry. First thing, it’s better to do breathing meditation. Then, do meditation on loving kindness.
When you become angry, you should see the effect of your anger. See what this anger is doing to you. This anger is destroying my inner peace. Think about the disadvantages of anger. I already mentioned them before, the disadvantages of anger. Right? Burning in your heart. And being uncomfortable, and so on and so forth. Think about all the disadvantages of anger. Then, you decide you don’t want to be angry anymore — and instead, you want to practice love.
If you are angry with yourself, instead you should practice love to yourself. Try to take care of yourself. Say to yourself, I want to learn how to love myself. And then, also, I would like to practice loving-kindness for others. Then, meditate on Bodhichitta.
We have extensive teachings on these meditations on loving kindness. Love and kindness. Metta and Karuna. Bodhichitta, in the Buddhist tradition.
So, as I said, the antidote for anger is love and Bodhichitta. Imagine,
“Everyone deserves love. Everyone wants love.”
Deep inside, everyone wants love. We want love, and we want to be loved. Therefore, I would like to practice loving-kindness.”
“Refuge” (in Tibetan) and Four Immeasurables Mantras: Chanting from Yoko Dharma
The teaching is followed by wonderful chanting by the amazing musical talent of Yoko Dharma, first chanting in Tibetan the Refuge in the Three Jewels (three times) (which should begin any meditation or practice) and then the singing the Four Immeasurables:
Sanggye Choedang Tshogkyi Chogname La
I take Refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Sangha.
Jangchub Bardu Dagni Kyabsu Chi
Until I attain Enlightenment.
Daggi Jinsog Gyipeai Soenam Kyi
By the merit, I accumulate from practising generosity and the other perfections,
Drola Phenchir Sanggye Drub Par Shog
May I attain Enlightenment in order to benefit all living beings.
Namu Guru Byah
May all beings have happiness and its causes
Namo Buddha Ya
May all beings be freed from suffering and its causes
Namo Dharma Ya
May all beings constantly dwell in joy transcending sorrow
Namo Sangha Ya
May all beings dwell in equal love for those both close and distant.
ABOUT VENERABLE ZASEP TULKU RINPOCHE
Rinpoche is popularly known for his approachable teaching style, strong humor and teachings based on a long lineage of great lamas. His own gurus included the most celebrated of Gelug teachers: His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Venerable Geshe Thupten Wanggyel, His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Venerable Lati Rinpoche, Venerable Tara Tulku Rinpoche and Venerable Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche.
Rinpoche is spiritual director of many temples, meditation centres and retreat centres in Australia, the United States and Canada. He was first invited to teach in Australia by Lama Thubten Yeshe in 1976.
Gaden for the West Meditation Centres
- Vajra Ling, Uralla, N.S.W.
- Losang Gyalwa Mandala, Sydney, N.S.W.
- Tenzing Ling Centre, Quamaa, N.S.W.
- Dorje Ling Retreat Centre, Lorina Valley, Tasmania
- Chittamani Mahayana Buddhist Meditation Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
- Gaden Choling, Toronto, Ontario
- Medicine Buddha Centre, Calgary, Alberta
- Potala Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre, Thunder Bay,Ontario
- Tashi Choling, Nelson, B. C.
- Zuru Ling Society, Vancouver, B.C.
- Golden Blue Lotus Tara Meditation Center, Moscow, Idaho
- TsongKhapa Center, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- Vajrayogini Center, Seattle, Washington
Yoko Dharma’s brilliant vocalization of “The Refuge in the Three Jewels and The Four Immeasurables” is used with her kind permission. Information on Yoko Dharma (or to download the track) please visit here>>
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Venerable Zasep Rinpoche
Author | Buddha Weekly
Rinpoche is spiritual head of many Dharma Centres, and teaches around the world. Originally from Kham province in Tibet (born 1948) Rinpoche has taught in the west since 1976, after he was first invited by Geshe Thubten Loden and Lama Yeshe to teach at the Chenrezig Institute in Australia. Today, he is spiritual head of the Gaden for the West centres in Canada, U.S., and Australia and also spiritual director of the the charities Gaden Relief Project (Canada) and Manlha Tus NGO (Mongolia). He is the author of three books, including his latest release in 2018 with a rare English commentary and practice instructions for Gelug Mahamudra.