Since I’ve started studying Buddhism, I’ve discovered that “anger” is a very common topic in the texts. We are after all, a primate species of mammal with all of the survival instincts that, over several million years of hominid evolution, helped us emerge from the African canopy. There is no doubt that one of those primal instincts is the act of fighting. It’s hard-wired in to our brains.
But evolution is just that, evolution. It doesn’t stop. Tribalism no longer benefits us. War no longer benefits us. Violence no longer benefits us. We are evolving, using our brains to understand on an even deeper level, the true nature of reality and the importance of compassion and empathy, both traits which also developed throughout our evolution and which will necessarily have to triumph if we hope to maintain our presence as a species on this planet.
According to the Dhammapahda, the Buddha said,
Guard against anger erupting in your body, in your speech, and in your mind…be restrained with your body, your speech, and your mind, letting go of misconduct in each. Practice good conduct with your body, speech, and mind.
Guard against anger. It seems so easy to let the old violent ape within us take over when we are faced with some conflict, but there is almost always a peaceful solution.
I’ve also grown fond of the Buddha’s saying,
Overcome anger with non-anger, evil with good
So perhaps it was this fresh study on “anger’ that led my unconscious mind to conjure up a scenario in a dream where I absolutely lost my cool.
Of all places, at a prescription eyeglass counter at a department store (I don’t think department stores even sell prescription eyeglasses). My family and I were at the counter to exchange a pair of glasses that we had purchased for a pair with lenses that automatically shade in UV light and the manager refused to do the exchange. In my dream, I become more and more agitated and upset, to the point of yelling and cursing at the manager! All to no avail.
I awoke to the sound of my dog scratching at the back door to go out for his morning “break” but the dream was still very fresh and real. I took a moment to look for the actual emotion of anger and found it trying to find a home in my upper abdomen.
The sun was shining brilliantly outside and the birds were very busy with song and pre-spring activity, so I simply smiled, got up, started some tea, and took my poor dog – who was still waiting patiently by the back door – out in to the cool, crisp, morning air. The anger of course, was long gone.