"No. I don't like today. I will not say thank you," the girl said in a quivering voice, her cute little eyes trying to fight back tears.
"But why?" asked the woman.
Almost every night without fail, before she goes to bed she would say thank you for the day, be it just a boring rainy day or a hectic day of play and children's parties.
"I don't like today. You were so mad," the girl, her eyes angry now, said sternly.
And try as she could, she could not take away the pain. The damage has been done. The wounds of past hurts have opened.
Almost twelve hours before, the little girl slumped on the bathroom floor sobbing uncontrollably.
"Why me?" she must have thought.
Nobody is too young to understand transference. She cried and cried and almost vomited.
The older woman cried, too. She cried for being the kind of angry person whom she long resented in her mother when she was growing up herself.
Twelve hours later and more than a dozen artworks and lots of laughter, the little girl has not forgotten. She is angry. And tonight, she will sleep as such.
And for sure the little girl will never forget this, the image of her sobbing on the bathroom floor. It will be vivid in her mind even after the older woman is long gone. It will be as vivid as the older woman's memory of anger while she was growing up. There she was on the kitchen floor retreating as she pleaded with her mother to stop the hitting, the screaming and the shouting. There she was curled like a ball, begging for mercy.
In many households, in dark rooms, on empty lots, online or over the phone, the stories of anger are endless.
What is anger?*
Anger is a deluded mind that focuses on an animate or inanimate object, feels it to be unattractive, exaggerates its bad qualities, and wishes to harm it. For example, when we are angry with our partner, at that moment he or she appears to us as unattractive or unpleasant. We then exaggerate his bad qualities by focusing only on those aspects that irritate us and ignoring all his good qualities and kindness, until we have built up a mental image of an intrinsically faulty person. We then wish to harm him in some way, probably by criticizing or disparaging him.
Because it is based on an exaggeration, anger is an unrealistic mind; the intrinsically faulty person or thing that it focuses on does not in fact exist. Moreover, as we shall see, anger is also an extremely destructive mind that serves no useful purpose whatsoever. Having understood the nature and disadvantages of anger, we then need to watch our mind carefully at all times in order to recognize it whenever it begins to arise.
This explanation of how to overcome our anger through practising patience is based on Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, the famous poem by the great Buddhist Master Shantideva. Though composed over a thousand years ago, this is one of the clearest and most powerful explanations of the subject ever written, and is just as relevant today as it was then.
There is nothing more destructive than anger. It destroys our peace and happiness in this life, and impels us to engage in negative actions that lead to untold suffering in future lives. It blocks our spiritual progress and prevents us from accomplishing any spiritual goals we have set ourself – from merely improving our mind, up to full enlightenment. The opponent to anger is patient acceptance, and if we are seriously interested in progressing along the spiritual path there is no practice more important than this.
Whenever we develop anger, our inner peace immediately disappears and even our body becomes tense and uncomfortable.
Anger is by nature a painful state of mind. Whenever we develop anger, our inner peace immediately disappears and even our body becomes tense and uncomfortable. We are so restless that we find it nearly impossible to fall asleep, and whatever sleep we do manage to get is fitful and unrefreshing. It is impossible to enjoy ourself when we are angry, and even the food we eat seems unpalatable. Anger transforms even a normally attractive person into an ugly red-faced demon. We grow more and more miserable, and, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control our emotions.
Effects Of Anger
One of the most harmful effects of anger is that it robs us of our reason and good sense. Wishing to retaliate against those whom we think have harmed us, we expose ourself to great personal danger merely to exact petty revenge. To get our own back for perceived injustices or slights, we are prepared to jeopardize our job, our relationships, and even the well-being of our family and children. When we are angry we lose all freedom of choice, driven here and there by an uncontrollable rage. Sometimes this blind rage is even directed at our loved ones and benefactors. In a fit of anger, forgetting the immeasurable kindness we have received from our friends, family, or Spiritual Teachers, we might strike out against and even kill the ones we hold most dear. It is no wonder that an habitually angry person is soon avoided by all who know him. This unfortunate victim of his own temper is the despair of those who formerly loved him, and eventually finds himself abandoned by everyone.
Behind intense anger is deep and profound endless love.