(Photo above by Tim Gouw / Pexels)
Anger can either be the motivator to take positive action or it can be a destructive force. But, just like so much in Buddhism, the outcome depends on what’s in our hearts.
Nichiren Daishonin, the 13th-century Buddhist reformer and founder of Nichiren Buddhism reiterated this truth (way before we were even born): “Anger can be either a good or bad thing” (“On Reprimanding Hachiman,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 931).
So, what makes anger a source of good or bad? It’s actually pretty simple as explained by the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda:
Anger directed toward bad is good. Anger that derives from egotism is bad. Anger itself cannot be called either good or bad. Good or bad exist in the context of relationships.
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra, vol. 3, p. 88
Woah, this is deep. So anger itself isn’t good or bad, it’s about how it shows up in our relationships with others and environment that makes the difference. Ikeda continues:
When justice or good is imperiled, anger becomes necessary. On the other hand, anger that arises from emotionalism is a manifestation of animality. The greater the person, the more all-encompassing that person’s love for others. This love is the source of strength and compassion.
Discussions on Youth, p. 112
That “all-encompassing” love for others makes the difference between self-centered anger and anger directed toward positive action that benefits others. How do we access that type of love for humanity?
Each time we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we access our Buddhability that seeks to value ourselves and others. Why? Because our Buddhability represents the limitless reserves of courage, wisdom and compassion that exist in each person’s heart. And not only do we access this ability but we can also channel the part of anger that is centered on helping others versus our ego.
Basically, when we chant we can move our lives in the best direction, including our emotions. There’s no need to suppress our emotions, especially anger. Rather, when we consistently chant, we can use our anger for good.
There’s no need to suppress our emotions, especially anger. Rather, when we consistently chant, we can use our anger for good.
And on top of that, people who tend to have an angry nature are also passionate and quick to get things done. We can tap into the wisdom of our emotions by chanting about them. Then, they become the source of our growth, and we can appreciate them.
If you want to understand more about what this looks like in reality, read how Edwin Franco, of Berkeley, California, transformed his anger at his mother’s death into the fuel to become the person his mother always believed he could be.
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