Act your rage – Three useful ways of thinking about and using your anger

One of the things that was emphasized in my Buddhist meditation training (and this holds true for most contemplative spiritualities) was that there is really nothing useful about anger, it was entirely destructive. This is further backed up by statements such as “one moment of anger is enough to destroy the merit (good karma) that you can create over aeons” and “a moment of anger can cause you to have a hundred negative rebirths in the future”.

My present take on anger is that it is a powerful emotion that is basically neutral in nature, and that can be used in positive or negative ways.

Anger is NOT the same thing as raw aggression, cruelty, bullying, hatred, acting to deliberately harm. It can just as easily be expressed as personal power, positive assertiveness, the powerful/wrathful expression of compassion and so on…

With this in mind, here are three useful analogies* for what positive anger can be like:

  • Anger is the T cells, or white blood cells of our psychological immune system – It is the aspect of our mind that becomes alert when there is a threat to our wellbeing, and acts to defend
  • Anger is the protector of our psychological boundaries – When there is someone or something that is causing  an abuse of our psychological self, positive anger can act to defend and ward off that abuse and restore appropriate boundaries
  • Anger is like an illuminating fire – Yes anger is hot like a fire, but it can also be illuminating like fire. In Tibetan Tantric Meditation the higher expression of anger is said to be ‘clarity’. If we can separate our anger from our confusion, sometimes we say things in a much clearer and more wise way than we would ever have the courage to do without the impetus of anger

Dealing with anger is not easy, but that does not give us an excuse to shy away from the responsibility that we have for harnessing it to our compassionate impulses and using it for the best and highest purposes of ourself and the World.

*These analogies if first heard from the work of Ken Wilber and Robert Masters

Related article:

In order to find real happiness, first you have to get mad as hell!

© Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first

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