Anger and Sanity

Transforming emotions is a matter of harnessing the basic energy of the emotion itself. This can be done in three steps. Anytime we have a knee-jerk reaction in one moment, we can still transform it in the next moment.

First, we have to notice our own experience. As soon as we catch ourselves and realize, “Oh I am feeling angry,” that is when the shift begins. It starts with awareness. That might mean giving up the denial, turning the focus inward and taking responsibility for how we are feeling.

Secondly, rather than go deeper and deeper into anger, we can use its quality of vigilance to find our way back to sanity. In Tibetan Buddhism the instructions tell us not to reject the emotion but not to indulge it either. So this is a way of tuning into the basic energies of experiencing the raw, visceral aspect of the emotion itself. The story line and the concepts can be so intoxicating. Stopping to breathe and pay attention to the sensation in our body cuts through all that noise, so we can get some perspective and get a sense of spaciousness.

Third, once we are breathing and attentive, we can let go of the compulsive, conditioned aspect of our knee-jerk reaction. In the case of anger, this requires a willingness to surrender our aggression. But there is a reason for the anger. It is often an un-willingness to face our vulnerability. Agression is a tactic for avoiding vulnerability. It requires some endurance to be present with our vulnerability. That might be uncomfortable. The capacity to be simply be uncomfortable renders neurosis unnecessary.

~ Pema Khandro

Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at:
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  1. This explanation is so precise and cuts to the core of the matter, being able to be vulnerable. Personally, I feel I am progressing but it’s taking a lot of work and patience. Awesome graphic,BTW.

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