(6.5) Anger causes friends and relatives to grow weary of me
And, even if I try to attract them with generosity, they will not trust me.
In short, there is no one
Who can live happily with anger.
If we are honest, the primary emotion we show towards others is frustration. When we communicate to others that they frustrate us it makes them think they are a bad person, and so they start to identify with that and it brings out that very behavior. It also just makes them feel very bad. When somebody gets angry with us, we dwell with it for a very long time and we feel really bad about it. For the most part, people need to feel like they are loved and supported for them to have confidence to go out and grow. When we get angry with somebody, we betray that love. It is like emotionally raping them. Sometimes when our parents or someone we deeply respect becomes angry with us, it can scar us for life. Our trust and confidence are violated and it takes an enormous amount to earn it back. The same is true of others who are the victims of our anger.
When we are young, we have a certain ability to absorb and bounce back relatively easy, but over time we store up so much anger that our tank fills up and then we become an angry and bitter person or depressed. We don’t know where the tipping point is for somebody, but it could very well be that our next bout of anger is the one that fills it up and pushes them over the brink. This is why it is so important to apologize often every time we get angry because this helps those we got angry with let go of their hurt and their own anger. We really need to take this seriously, it is so important.
Nobody wants to be with angry people. We just don’t want to be around them, and so it is no surprise that over time angry people find themselves all alone. It is inevitable that this will happen as long as we are angry. Sometimes people feel trapped with angry people and they don’t know how to get out. This causes them to generate a lot of resentment towards the other person and they sit internally with their anger, day by day creating countless causes to fall into the lower realms. Usually what happens is once the power balance shifts in the relationship, such as the angry person becomes the weaker one in some way, then all this anger and resentment comes out creating incredible misery for the angry person and terrible causes for the person who lets it all out.
As bodhisattvas, we need strive to maintain good and harmonious relationships with everybody. It is through our relationships that we can help people. Somebody can be a Buddha, and have incredibly precious advice to give, but if they don’t have the karma of having good relationships they can’t do anything to help. We need to try to get on good terms with everybody. It doesn’t take much effort to do so, we just need to try and be willing to apologize for our mistakes. We need to start viewing others as our future spiritual responsibility, and start to cultivate our relationship in that direction right now. The most important thing we need to do is overcome our anger with them.
Especially for people who are teachers or Sangha, there is nothing more devastating to our fellow practitioners than them thinking we are angry with them or do not accept them or that they bother us. This destroys everything about their spiritual life, and prevents them from being able to trust us. If they do not trust us, there is nothing we can do help them. Even if we’re controlled enough not to say or do anything out of anger, our students or the other people in the Sangha may sense the impatience, irritation or anger we have in our mind towards them. When they become aware of it they will not trust us and sometimes not trust the Dharma as a result. They will judge the Dharma as being faulty when in reality it is us who is faulty. How can we expect our students and fellow Sangha to develop open hearts towards us, to rely upon us, to draw close to us, if we become angry with them?
What will happen is they will keep some distance from us, and their mind will be closed. They will not be open to receiving whatever good things we have to offer, even during teachings. If their mind is closed as a result of experiencing our anger towards them, they will not fully take the teachings to heart, just a memory of a time we became angry or impatient with them. We know, if we’re honest, we know that we have become impatient with our students or fellow Sangha, we have become angry with our students and fellow Sangha. We have to stop, because what is most important is our improving our relationships with our students and spiritual friends. When we become impatient or angry with them our relationship is damaged. To that extent we are responsible for hindering spiritual progress and creating divisions within the Sangha.
Sometimes we feel we’re being wrathful: something needs to be said in a strong way. We think, “I need to be wrathful with this person.” But we need to check very, very closely in our mind, to see if there’s this enemy, poison of anger, still influencing our thoughts. Even if our mind is at peace, those we are wrathful with may still perceive us as getting angry. Our relationship needs to be a particularly good one. Will the other person perceive an angry action instead of a wrathful one? We do need to be careful.