Wrathful compassion: dealing with anger part 2

Wrathful compassion

There are deities in Tibetan Buddhism whose ‘jobs’ revolve around actively protecting faithful Buddhists from evil, inside & out. Palden Llamo is one of my favourites, the only female among the 8 Dharampalas. She is the protector of Buddhist governments, but is also a rabid pacifist, sacrificing her own child to force her war-monger husband to acknowledge the grief of loss. I’m not quite that pacificistic, but you have to admire the woman’s principles. She’s the queen of wrathful compassion — doing good with her anger. Even the Dalai Lama said that if we allow evil to live, we are complicit in its effects.

Anger is what Buddhists call a ‘mind poison,’ one of the klēshas. In other words, it’s a root of suffering. You think?? So: what do we do with this hatred?? The wonderful Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says we cultivate patience. Patience that is fearless (because we have to acknowledge our anger, and face the causes of it). Patience that is kind — What! I’m angry AGAIN??? This is one I’m intimately well acquainted with! Patience that is ongoing, because we will never ‘master’ our human natures. We just have to keep trying.

To some of us, that sounds depressing. But as I think about it? It’s actually kind of comforting: this is who we are, human beings — angry at something or someone. A kind of attachment (there’s that state again!) that we try to let go. In other words? We work to become more than our anger, by learning patience.

So I’m working on just sitting with my anger. Not posting (what I see as) the idiocy of haters. To do so allies myself not with compassion, not with patience, but with the anger surging like the tide in my hot hot blood. I won’t pretend it’s easy, not with a rising death toll, and an inability of power to see how unfair it can be. But I’m not going to be of much use if I feed these flames. Instead, I’ll work for peace — for equity & social justice. And I’ll have to even be patient for those…

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