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Anger, OK. Hatred, not so.

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER.

I have written about the proper ways to be angry.
I have written about not taking in other people’s anger.
I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger.
I have written about the natural and distorted ways of expressing anger.
I have written about the harm of repressing anger.

In light of the inauguration, I want to add two things about anger.

1) The cause of anger

There are two causes to all of the anger in the world:
We get angry because we don’t get what we want.
We get angry because we get what we don’t want.

In an easy to remember visual:

This is from Shantideva, an 8th century Indian monk.
I often ponder and think, wow, in the realm of human operations, nothing much has changed.

I am not getting the president I wanted.

I am angry about that.

But, I don’t need to act out on anger.
I don’t need to be filled with hate.

This brings me to my second point.

2) The difference between hate and anger

Anger is a natural emotion. We feel it. Babies feel it.

But, hatred, bitterness, and rage are distortions of anger.
These are not something that babies – or any animal except us humans – do.
Hatred is holding on to anger.

The desire to retaliate. To make ourselves feel bigger. To act out in anger.
This causes harm.

To quote Michelle Obama,

“When they go low, we go high.”

Do not give in to hatred.

Buddhaghosa, a 5th century commentator on the works of the Buddha, wrote,

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

So, what to do instead of hate?

Take your anger, feel it. But, then find love and put it into action.

Let me conclude with words from Dr. Martin Luther King – who is celebrated today in the United States,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

#wisdom_biscuit: Have anger. Don’t hate.

Visit Rabbi Brian’s website Religion Outside the Box

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