Why am I angry?

“He abused me. He cheated me. He robbed me. Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.” This quotation from The Dhammapada, a collection of verses outlining the way to lead a proper life, expresses one of the basic teachings of Buddhism. Anger is a natural human emotion. Understanding the cause of our anger and moving beyond this anger is necessary if we are to overcome our suffering.

A story tells of a young disciple coming to Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin, shortly after the death of the Buddha. The disciple asked, “Did the Buddha ever get angry?” Ananda replied, “Of course he did. He was only human. But he forgot it immediately.” This ability to immediately move beyond the anger, to understand its cause, and not become attached to it is the way of an enlightened person.

The first step to moving beyond anger is to realize the cause of the anger. Many times we become angry or upset over trivial issues. Recently I experienced this type of trivial anger.

I have a season ticket to the Kenosha Mammoths baseball games. Early in the season the weather was terrible and so was the team. Yet, each night I enjoyed the game and hoped for better weather and better play. As the season wore on the team improved. Early in August they returned home with hopes high. However, they started to lose. After their third consecutive loss I was so upset by their play, and the managing, I began shouting at the manager. At that moment I was angry. But, why was I angry? Whether this team won or lost meant nothing to my life. I was there solely for entertainment. So why was I angry?

The Second Noble Truth in Buddhism is that the cause of our suffering is our ignorance. This ignorance stems from our self centered view of the world. We want life to always be favorable for us. Failure to meet our expectations causes anger. This is what had happened to me. When the team was bad, I had no expectations, only hopes. Now, with my expectations raised, failure upset me. The team and manager were not the cause of my anger. My unmet expectations were the cause.

Last month I wrote of the “life of no regret.” Mishaps and mistakes fill our lives. We gain wisdom and insight by learning from these incidents. A “life of no regret” does not mean you would not change your past actions if you could. It is the acceptance of the fact that you cannot. You can only affect your future actions. For most of my life I felt justified in my anger and did not try to find its cause. As I try to live by the Dharma teachings I realize the choice is mine. I can continue to suffer or I can ask, “Why am I angry?”

For more information about Buddhism or meditation in Kenosha contact me at BASEWI@aol.com