Thursday, March 23, 2017

Buddhist Techniques Related to Anger Management

Introduction


The basic problem according to Buddhism, is that emotions like anger and hatred are based on projections and exaggeration, not on objectivity or wisdom, and thus basically incorrect. 

          
There is little need to explain what anger and hatred do to ourselves by means of the laws of karma; the misery we cause others will come back at ourselves. Nobody wants suffering, so next is a summary of methods which can not only reduce but even eliminate anger and hatred from our minds.  


It must be emphasize that to completely eliminate these negative emotions from our mind is a lengthy psychological process, requiring study, mindfulness, reflection and honest observation of one's own mind. To begin with, meditation is an ideal method to review a situation in which one became angry. This has the advantage that one is not exposed to the actual situation, but one can review it much more objectively. When regular meditation gives some insight into what anger is and what happens to oneself when feeling angry, then one can gradually try to apply it in real-life situations, preferably of course before one is already under complete control of anger. It is a slow process, but the change in your life and the ones around you can profoundly change for the better.



Buddhist Techniques to Anger management

There are many references in Buddhist teaching regarding managing anger. Mainly Sabbasava sutta, Arana vibhanga sutta, Vitakkasanthana sutta, Satipatthana sutta are more important.

According to Vitakkasanthana sutta it teaches five types of methods to overcome sresses in the mind.

1.      Reflecting on opposite thought to anger thought (aññanimitta)
2.      Reflecting on bad effects of getting angry (ādīnava upaparikkhaya)
3.      Searching for the reason for getting angry (vitakkamūlabheda)
4.      Avoiding thinking about the reason for getting angry. (Asati)
5.      By practicing effort to overcome stresses. (Abhinigganhata)

In addition to this sutta sathipatthana sutta also shows a very good direction to control stress by establishing mindfulness.

1.     Draw attention to five aggregates. 
        (kāye kāyanupassi viharati pancasupādānakkhandesu)
2.      Being mindful about thought of angry in one self. (cittānupassanā)
3.      Being mindfull about feelings.
4.      Being mindful about Dhamma.

In Sabbasava sutta, we find that this sutta is composed of seven kinds of method to abandon fermentations, namely, the method of abandoning fermentations by seeing, of abandoning them by restraining, of abandoning them by using, of abandoning them by tolerating, of abandoning them by avoiding, of abandoning them by dispelling, and of abandoning them by developing.

If these seven kinds of method are practiced, fermentation or stress can be abandoned or managed. Without practicing these kinds of method, fermentation or stress can be abandoned or managed. Therefore, we can find that this sutta is related to stress management.
Apart from above methods, Buddhism suggests many techniques in order to manage anger. They are as follows;          

Reflecting on bad effects of getting angry (ādīnava upaparikkhaya)


Everyone is not similar to each other. They are different from the body, thoughts, hopes, feelings, emotions etc… if they perform something, that is their nature. Must I react to them with a polluted mind with anger? If I get angry, it is a hard pain to me.

Be positive
If you have negative thoughts, your mind seeks for weaknesses or defects of every one. If you can concentrate on good qualities of people. “Every dark cloud has a silver line” there is a good man in every bad character and try to think about the goodness in badness.

Searching for the reason for getting angry (vitakkamūlabheda)
If you always get angry, find the reason for it and fix it. If you get angry occasionally, think; why do I like this? What is wrong with me? And try to overcome your anger.

Draw attention to five aggregates. (kāye kāyanupassi viharati pancasupādānakkhandesu)
Reflect on your five aggregates and search from which aggregate, anger is arising. Whether it is form, feeling, perception, formation, or consciousness.

Reflecting on opposite thought to anger thought (aññanimitta)
As long as you put woods to fire, flames will grow. In the same manner, as long as you place your mind on the cause of the anger, you cannot overcome anger. Concentrate mind on the opposite thoughts like love, compassion, equanimity etc… if you put water to fire, flames will disappear. In the same way love, compassion other similar thoughts can chase away anger.

Being mindful about thought of angry in one self. (cittānupassanā)
(santaŋ vā ajjattaŋ vyāpādaŋ atthi me ajjattaŋ vyapādo’ti pajānāti, asantaŋ vā ajjattaŋ vayāpādaŋ natti me ajjattaŋ vyāpādo’ti pajānāti. yathā ca anuppannassa vyāpādassa uppādo hoti taŋ ca pajānāti. Yathā ca uppannassa vyāpādassa pahānaŋ hoti taŋ ca pajānāti. Yathā ca pahīnassa vyāpādassa āyatiŋ anuppado hoti taŋ ca pajānāti)
When angry is in your mind, come to know that you are in anger. When angry is not in your mind know that as well. When anger arises in your mind, catch it. When you dispel anger do it mindfully. And make sure not to allow anger to come to your mind again ever.

Avoiding thinking about the reason for getting angry. (Asati) 
Stop thinking about anything that your anger is increased.

Avoiding situations or people that generate anger in the mind. (vinodanā pahātabbā)
Consider about bad outcomes of getting angry. There is no consolation in your mind and even you are not able to sleep well. On the other hand you accumulate demerits, others don’t like you as long as you get angry.

Contemplate on rewards of dispelling anger. (mettanisansa)
It is good to eradicate anger since eradication of anger brings rewards to me such as; comfortable sleep, not having bad dreams, others will like me even animals, everyone will be friendly, there will not be any enemy, I’ll be able to go anywhere freely, my mind will be concentrated etc…

Being awaken in every action. (yonisomanasikāra)
Do not do anything without your intention. Do everything after reflecting about consequences of the action. Think, not once but several times about your action.

Reading or thinking about extraordinary qualities of the noble characters.
See your weakness by reflecting on great qualities of noble people ever in the world. They did not cultivate bad qualities like anger and on account of that they were respected by whole the world. Then I must overcome this sense of anger.

Get away from the association of evil or ignoble beings (parivajjanā pahātabba)
Do not hesitate to leave bad association since that association never brings goodness to your life. If you usually get angry for a person, leave his association.

Forget the cause for anger (Nadivāseti)
Draw your attention and effort to forget the object of getting angry. If you grasp the objet, you will grow anger in your mind more and more.

Advise to yourself to defeat anger and root-out it. (byanti karoti, anabhāvaŋ gameti)
Be honest to yourself and accept your weakness of getting angry. Rust destroys what it is arose. In the same way, your anger destroy your life and your goodwill. If you get angry it brings bad luck to your life. Then, defeat anger by concerning about your mind.

Spread compassion to enemy (karunā)
Your enemy also is a being. If you commit something bad to him, he will have to suffer. Consequently, his wife, children, mother, father, and relatives will suffer. If I am a great person, even my enemies hurt me I mustn’t revenge on them.

Be mindful on your breathing (anāpānasati)
If you are not able to control your anger, close your eyes and contemplate your mind on breathing.

Be patient
One of the best ways to control anger is being patient. This technique is based on the Akkosabhāradvāja story. Although Bhāradvāja insulted and cursed the Buddha with rude, harsh words, he did not react to him. This is the way.

Reflection on the actions
This is based on Ambalatthikārāhulovāda sutta. The Buddha advised his son to reflect on his bodily, verbal, mental actions before, while, after performing them.

Pay no attention to the object
When we get angry our mind is stuck to that unpleasant object. If we pay no mind, no attention to that object, we will not get angry anymore. This technique is based on Vitakkasanthana sutta.

Loving-kindness
When the heart is full of loving-kindness, anger or Dosa rarely has a chance to arise for metta is a mental factor that wishes the welfare of all beings.

Mindfulness
This is based on Mahāsatipatthāna sutta. Being watchful on our body, feeling, mind, and Dhamma (ideas) is one of the best ways to control our anger.

Do not care about others bad behaviors
If you get angry about something, it happens for your attention or care. If the thing what make you angry happens again and again, do not care it. Abandon it.

Be ashamed on your anger (hiri)


Getting angry means, you are slavering to your evil thoughts. Even you can’t control yourself. Others never praise your angry behavior. When you get angry your bodily, verbal, and mental actions become impure. You will behave like a wild animal. Be shame to get angry.

Contemplation on our feeling (vedananupassanasati): Use the method of vipassana meditation. According to this technique one needs to observe or be mindful on his feeling such as unpleasant feeling which makes his body to be hotter and hotter.  At that time, he may have to pay his attention to that feeling from it is arising and gradually disappearing in his body.

Sabbasava sutta also introduces seven methods to overcome anger from the mind as follows;
1.      Dassana pahatabba
There are some sorts of cankers that have to be overcome by seeing and observing with wisdom. Person should be contemplated on what is to be contemplated and he mustn’t reflect on what is not to be contemplated. Desire, anger, and delusion are the thoughts what not to be contemplated. As long as one does not reflect on thoughts what are not to be reflected can overcome arisen stresses and disappear unborn stresses in future.

2.      Sanvara pahatabba
Person becomes stressful for his eye by seeing forms that are beautiful or ugly. But, those who tamed or controlled their desire for forms is controlled in eye. In the same way ear, nous, tongue, and body to be controlled in rder to overcome stresses, anxiety, worry, restlessness and all the cankers.
3.      Patisevana pahatabba
On the other hand person becomes stressful if he doesn’t concentrate on the reason to have foods, cloths, homes, and medicine. As a result he increases his desire and makes his mind stressful.
4.      Adhivasana pahatabba
As a being he has to tolerate the natural influences without becoming stressful. Beings have to be patient whenever they have troubles of mosquitos, flies, serpents, cold, heat, sun light, wind etc… all these influences have to be tolerated with a patient mind and then mind becomes stressless.
5.      Parivajjana pahatabba
There are some sorts of stresses that should be overcome by avoiding. Association with an unsuitable beings and places is troublesome. So, one has to avoid those beings and places to contemplate his mind which is lack of stresses.
6.      Vinodana pahatabba
There are stresses that have to be overcome by considering defects of sorrowful results of the feelings that are harmful to oneself. Thoughts of desire, thoughts of anger, and thoughts of delusion are to be overcome by considering the defects of them.
7.      Bhavana pahatabba
Some stresses have to be overcome by developing the mind. Being mindful is helping to understand the nature as it is and that mind is able to understand that there is nothing to be worry about anything. That mid is free from stresses because of developing mindfulness.

 Conclusion

On one occasion, the Buddha was invited by the Brahmin Bharadvaja for alms to his house. As invited, the Buddha visited the house of the Brahmin. Instead of entertaining Him, the Brahmin poured forth a torrent of abuse with the filthiest of words. The Buddha politely inquired:


"Do visitors come to your house, good Brahmin?"

"Yes," he replied.
"What do yu do when they come?"
"Oh, we prepare a sumptuous feast."
"What do you if they refuse to receive the meal?"
"Why, we gladly partake of them ourselves."
"Well, good Brahmin, you have invited me for alms and entertained me with abuse which I decline to accept. So now it belongs to you."
From the Akkosa Sutta

The Buddha did not retaliate but politely gave back what the Brahmin had given Him. Retaliate not, the Buddha advised. "Hatred does not cease through hatred but through love alone they cease."

References;

Sabāsava Sutta, Majjima Nikāya, Mūlapariyàyavagga.
Vitakkasanthana Sutta. (M.i. 20) BJTS
Mahadukkakkhanda sutta Majjima nikaya BJTS
Anumana sutta Majjhima Nikaya - Muulapannaasa - Siihanaada Vagga – 15th sutta


By
Ven. Sumiththa T.
Sri Lankan Buddhist Cultural Centre - Hong Kong 
3F, 27 Sheung Heung Road, To Kwa Wan, 
Kowloon, Hong Kong

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