Psychological Self-Help

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Gyatso gives a very good deterministic (lawful) rationale for why we should not get
mad at the person who hurts us physically or emotionally: the person offending us
does not consciously and deliberately decide to get angry and harm us; instead he or
she is acting on “an inner sickness of anger” as well as being dominated by strong
emotions and by the complex conditions that influence him. Those conditions (e.g.
his mood, his irrational ideas, his karma and the karma of the victim, the situation,
his history of a bad temper, his family habits, his previous lives, etc.) are influencing
his actions and determining whether he acts to insult/hurt us or to be gentle and
patient with us. The aggressor is a giant bundle of incomprehensible constantly
changing causes that exist for only a moment of time; he is not a carefully self-
directed and responsible person. Thus, there is no person and no clear-cut cause to
totally blame for the other person’s anger. So, even if we get hurt or offended, we
can find no person deserving of our anger. Yet, suffering still occurs. If we are wise,
like Buddhists, we should set about understanding the person who hurt us,
controlling our anger in return, and soothing our urges to retaliate.
In a very practical way, Gyatso discusses how to avoid retaliating after we are hurt.
We may do this by being patient and by learning to think: “he is hurting me only
because he is deluded.” We can gradually reduce the frequency of our angry
thoughts by deciding to avoid getting angry during the next hour or two. Then
steadily step by step we can learn to control our anger for longer periods. Before
long we can remain unruffled by people and things that used to push our buttons. In
fact, the difficult, irritating person can be thought of as giving you an important gift,
namely, the merit and virtue you earn when you practice patience. Keep in mind that
anger is a very serious problem—it can destroy our happiness and our accumulated
virtues. Buddhists believe that when an angry person is reincarnated, his or her body
will be ugly and his or her temperament will still be unpleasant. 
Gyatso gives more reasons for avoiding angry retaliation: study the person who hurt
you to see if the anger was caused by his or her basic nature or by a temporary
condition or fault. In either case there are no logical grounds for getting mad, so a
crucial first step is seeing the irrationality of our anger and hatred. When facing
strong anger and resentment, just briefly seeing the “delusional” aspects of hatred is
not enough. You have to go deeper to get to the core of the feelings. This is where
the Buddhist uses patience and meditation (see chapter 12) to instill this logical
thinking—to make it automatic to believe that anger is never justified. How does
meditation guide a person to more basic peace and happiness? While in the calm of
meditation, you need to explore over and over the disadvantages of anger going
from mild irritation to powerful disgust, disdain, and rage. Gradually you will more
and more clearly see that the external events or behaviors of others that are
bothering you are not the real problem—your anger is the problem! Your illogical
ranting, raging mind is the problem! Like seeing that over-eating and smoking kills
you and that drugs and alcohol ruin your marriage, you come to understand that
enough is enough: you are a slave to your anger and your anger and criticism drive
people and lovers away. You see the craziness of your ongoing anger and vow to
change. Use the calmness of meditation to review your episodes of anger without
getting angry this time but looking for better ways to resolve the conflicts. Note:
this is today’s desensization (see Chapter 12). Remember the Buddhist teachings:
Antidotes to anger are patience and love; Love is wishing happiness to everyone;
Respect others—inside every person is a sacred core deserving honor.
Another Buddhist approach is to remember the law of karma, i.e. we reap the results
of our past actions. Thus, our own negative karma may be the cause of our own
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