This week, we’re reading the book ‘Anger’ by Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh

Hanh, who was famously nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. published this book in 2001. Below are some of his insights on how to manage anger and transform it into positive energy. This kind of advice is heavily needed today in America where social unrest and political strife threatens to undo us all. 

  • Develop a meditation practice. Hanh refers to this as “mindful breathing” and describes it as a process of “going back to ourselves.” He says we don’t usually do this when we are caught up in anger. Instead, “we want to follow the other person in order to punish him or her.” But this will not work, and the first step to transforming the anger into something constructive is to return to ourselves.

  • Resist the urge to punish those who have made you suffer. “When someone says or does something that makes us angry, we suffer. We tend to say or do something back to make the other suffer, with the hope that we will suffer less. We think, “I want to punish you, I want to make you suffer because you have made me suffer. And when I see you suffer a lot, I will feel better…[but] the fact is that when you make the other suffer, he will try to find relief by making you suffer more. The result is an escalation of suffering on both sides.”

  • Think of ways to help those who harm you. “When someone does not know how to handle his own suffering, he allows it to spill all over the people around him. When you suffer, you make people around you suffer. That’s very natural. This is why we have to learn how to handle our suffering, so we won’t spread it everywhere…when someone is angry, and doesn’t know how to handle her anger, she is helpless, she suffers. She also makes the people around her suffer. At first, you feel that she deserves punishment. You want to punish her because she has made you suffer. But after ten or fifteen minutes of walking meditation and mindful looking, you realize that what she needs is help and not punishment…now you are filled with the desire to return and help. It is a completely different kind of thinking — there is no more wish to punish. Your anger has been transformed into compassion.”

  • Do not repress your anger. Tend to it. “Anger is in us in the form of a seed. The seeds of love and compassion are also there. In our consciousness, there are many negative seeds and also many positive seeds. The practice is to avoid watering the negative seeds and to identify and water the positive seeds every day. This is the practice of love…when we embrace anger and take good care of our anger, we obtain relief. We can look deeply into it and gain many insights. The first insight may be that the seed of anger in us has grown a little to big, and it is the main cause of our misery…if we continue to look deeply we see that the other person suffers a great deal…in the past, we have not helped him. We have not practiced selective watering. If we had practiced watering the positive seeds in him every day, he would not be the way he is today.”

Theory of Enchantment in podcasts this week! 

ToE Founder Chloé Valdary sat down with Coleman Hughes and Jay Shapiro on the Dilemma Podcast to discuss the legacy of the film ‘Black Panther’ and how its message of the triumph of redemption over rage is a message that is desperately needed today. We were planning on releasing this later this month but due to the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman, we decided to share it now. You can also check out our newsletter about ‘Black Panther’  which was published a few weeks ago here.

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