Three kinds of anger

From AN 3.25, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi:
Bhikkhus, there are these three kinds of persons found existing in the world. What three? The person who is like a line etched in stone, the person who is like a line etched in the ground, and the person who is like a line etched in water.

And what kind of person is like a line etched in stone? Here, some person often gets angry, and his anger persists for a long time. Just as a line etched in stone is not quickly erased by the wind and water but persists for a long time, so too, some person often gets angry, and his anger persists for a long time. This is called the person who is like a line etched in stone.

And what kind of person is like a line etched in the ground? Here, some person often gets angry, but his anger does not persist for a long time. Just as a line etched in the ground is quickly erased by the wind and water and does not persist for a long time, so too, some person often gets angry, but his anger does not persist for a long time. This is called the person who is like a line etched in the ground.

And what kind of person is like a line etched in water? Here, some person, even when spoken to roughly and harshly, in disagreeable ways, remains on friendly terms [with his antagonist], mingles [with him], and greets [him]. Just as a line etched in water quickly disappears and does not persist for a long time, so too, some person, even when spoken to roughly and harshly, in disagreeable ways, remains on friendly terms…(etc. as before).

These, bhikkhus, are the three kinds of persons found existing in the world.

None of us is in only one of these three categories. We’ve all had times when we clung on to some hurt or judgment for too long. We’ve also been able to let go of angry feelings rather quickly, based on additional information or the ability to see another person’s point of view.

The person who is like a line etched in water is able to see immediately that no rough words are worth reacting to; she doesn’t pick them up at all but lets them slide on by. We can be like this, too – taking the long view and choosing to respond only to positive interactions. The negative stimuli can be endured and passed over because we know they are temporary and we are not required to react.

The Buddha encourages us to be polite to everyone, including those who have established themselves as troublesome. Friend or foe – all deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. This behavior smooths the way for all concerned.

Which of the three kinds of persons best describes you?

1 Comment

Filed under Anger, Imperfections

One response to “Three kinds of anger

  1. hmm ….dear friend thanks i m much improved in my anger…true budhha told about to be polite to all…

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