Remedies for anger

For one who attends carefully to the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness, unarisen ill will does not arise and arisen ill will is abandoned.
— from AN1.17, translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Six things that lead to the abandoning of ill-will:
1) learning the meditation on loving-kindness,
2) cultivating meditation on loving-kindness,
3) reviewing ownership of kamma,
4) abundant reflection,
5) good friendship, and
6) suitable conversation.

— from commentary to the above verse, also translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

From the list of imperfections/kilesas (see January 5th post), I’ve merged anger and ill-will for the purpose of offering the above list of remedies.

Fully one-third of the recommended cures for anger or ill-will is “learning and cultivating loving-kindness meditation”. We have talked about this before; it’s the turning of our minds away from selfish concerns and picking up our natural tendency to wish good things for ourselves and others. We’re not using magical thinking to change reality; we are moving our attention away from clinging, toward the part of our mind that knows we all want to be happy, and reminding ourselves that sincerely wishing for the best possible circumstances and outcomes for everyone is a better place for our attention to be.

For example:
May I be well, may I be happy. May I be free from harm and suffering. May all of my good purposes be fulfilled.

May [specific person] be well, may she be happy. May she be free from harm and suffering. May all of her good purposes be fulfilled.

May all beings be well, may they be happy. May they be free from harm and suffering. May all of their good purposes be fulfilled.

Loving-kindness/metta is a wholesome dwelling place for our minds. When we’re in the thick of an angry moment, it may be hard to turn a switch and remember metta – but it can be done. It comes more easily in tense moments if we practice it when things aren’t difficult, if we can cultivate the attitude of friendliness as our default position while moving around in the world.

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Filed under Anger, Imperfections

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