Forget Your Anger

Shortly after the passing of the Buddha, a novice came to Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin. Having spent the previous forty-five years traveling with the Buddha, Ananda knew him better than anyone. The novice asked, “Did the Buddha ever become angry?” Ananda replied, “Of course he did. He was only human. But he forgot it immediately.”

“He was only human. But he forgot it immediately.” These two sentences express basic teachings of Buddhism. First, Gautama Buddha was not a god nor a divine being. He was a human being like you or I. As such, he was subject to all the emotions we experience, including anger. However, unlike most of us, when his anger arose, it disappeared almost instantaneously. He did not hold on to the anger, therefore, he did not take actions based on this anger. Suffering did not arise, the cause having been eliminated.

This teaching of overcoming anger is an example of how the Buddhadharma applies to everyday life. Stressful situations fill modern life. Angry reactions while driving have become so frequent that the term “road rage” has entered our language. Tragedies occur, yet when looked upon later, a simple truth emerges. At any point, if either party involved had forgotten their anger the outcome would have been far different.

Our family relationships also suffer due to anger. Husbands and wives, parents and children, allowing anger to explode, the deep bonds that should exist drown in a sea of emotion. Understanding, love and compassion disappear and only anguish is present.

Anger also causes us to make mistakes. How often have you reacted in anger, only to discover that you were mistaken about what had initially happened or had been said? If you had forgotten your anger immediately, your subsequent actions would not have created more suffering.

During the nineteen years that I have practiced the Buddhadharma, many of the teachings have found their way into my business life. As the owner of a wholesale distribution company, I have had the misfortune of losing money to stores that go out of business. Although this certainly does not please me, I have slowly learned how to let go of the anger this causes. I realize that by holding on to the anger I am less able to focus on learning from the loss and making the decisions that would prevent the same thing from happening again. Regardless of my anger, the money is lost. Holding on to my anger only prolongs my suffering.

To feel anger is a normal, human reaction. The question is, what do we do when this emotion arises? Do we become attached to this anger, lash out at those whom we feel have offended us, let it boil within us clouding our senses? Or, do we learn to forget it immediately like Gautama Buddha, the Awakened One? As always, the choice is ours.

For more information about Buddhism, or meditation in Kenosha, contact me at