The Giving up of Anger

by S. N. Goenka


O my mind!

So long a time has passed but your restlessness has not stopped. The glowing coals of your anger are still smouldering within you. O ignorant one! You are constantly aflame with this fire of anger, you are tormented by this burning, and yet how ignorant you are of it.

You are constantly fanning these flames of anger. And it will only increase unless you find a way to extinguish this fire.

Someone has rightly said:

“Sine sippam sine dhanam sine pabbatamaruham; Sine kamassa kodhassa ime panca sine sine.”

“Skill in a craft or art develops gradually. Wealth increases gradually. A mountain is climbed gradually. Lust and anger increase gradually. All these five increase only gradually. Like a fire growing gradually with new fuel, so does anger grow gradually.”

“Appo hutva bahu hoti vaddhate so akhantijo.”

“Agitation breeds anger that grows from a small flame to a raging fire.”

“Asangi bahupayaso tasma kodham na rocaye.”

Its company causes much pain. Which wise person will desire this destructive, evil anger? Yet fools always kindle it, little realising the adverse consequences.

“anijanam yatha nava appamanabhara garu, Atibharam samadaya annave avasidati; 

Evameva naro papam thoka thokampi acinam, Atibharam samadaya niraye avasidati.”

“Like the overloaded ship of a merchant sinks in the sea, so too does the foolish person sink to a woeful state, gradually overloaded with impurities.”

“Anupubbena medhavi thokathokam khane khane. Kammaro rajatasseva niddhame malamattano.”

“Like the silversmith painstakingly purifies silver of dross, so too does a wise person, with right effort every moment, purifies the mind of aversion, anger, and hatred.

- But the foolish mind, instead of reducing impurities, gradually increases them, and is tormented in this fire. Whether this fire within burns another or not, it will certainly burn you.”

“Katthasmim matthamanasmim pavako nama jayati; Tameva kattam dahati yasma so jayate gini.”

“Just as the fire produced by rubbing two wooden sticks burns those very sticks, so too does the fire of anger produced by friction within burn you.

This fire of anger ignited within by friction with some ignorant person, does not make you any less ignorant because you are still burning in this fire.”

“Evam mandassa posassa balassa avijanato; Sarambha jayate kodho sopi teneva dahyati.”

“It does not matter friction with which ignorant person ignited this fire. Fire burns. Whether the other person burns or not, this fire is certainly burning you.

What matters whether the other person is foolish or ignorant, an ascetic or a sage? Whether the friction is by sticks of neem or sandalwood, the fire caused burns those sticks. Fire burns. It matters not whether the fuel is coal or petrol, electricity or gas. Hence, the wise always remains heedful. Whatever the cause, the fire should not grow.”

“Sutva rusito bahum vacam samananam va puthujananam; Pharusena ne na pativajja na hi santo patiseni karonti.”

“Abuse does not provoke the wise to abuse in return. The wise know that anger only fuels more anger like petrol poured onto a fire. One who understands the welfare of oneself and others neither starts a fire with harsh words nor fuels a fire with harsh replies.”

“Mavoca pharusam kanci vutta pativadeyyum tam; Dukkha hi sarambhakatha patidanda phuseyyum tam.”

“So a wise person never speaks harsh words. If not, the listener reacts with harsh words. And every word filled with anger breeds misery. The speaker of such words always suffers.

“Yo kopaneyye na karoti kopam, na kujjhati sappuriso kadaci; Kuddhopi so navikaroti kopam, tam ve naram samanamahu loke.”

“The virtuous are never angry. They are not angered even when provoked. Or anger is never expressed. Only such a disciplined, virtuous one is a true saint. Truly, for the wise, anger never answers any situation.”

“Alaso gihi kamabhogi na sadhu, asannato pabbajito na sadhu; Raja na sadhu anisammakari, yo pandito kodhano tam na sadhu.”

“It is wrong for a householder to be lazy and a slave to sensual pleasures, for a recluse renouncing the householders’ life to be unrestrained, for a king to make hasty decisions, for a scholar to be wrathful. A truly learned person is never the slave of anger.”

The wise protect themselves well. They know one's own protection rests in protecting others; in protecting others one protects oneself.

“Attanam rakkhanto param rakkhati, param rakkhanto attanam rakkhati.”

“Protecting oneself one protects others; protecting others one protects oneself. Indeed, one who does not give in to anger is one who never retaliates with anger. Only can such a person protect oneself and others. Such are the truly virtuous.”

“Ubhinna-mattham carati attano ca parassa ca; Param sankupitam natva yo sato upasammati.”

“Upon seeing another angry, the virtuous remain calm. Such is the wisdom that brings welfare to all. Facing the angry with anger only destroys both.”

My foolish mind! The path of Dhamma on which you walk is the path of tolerance, the path of peace, the path of forbearance, the path of patience. I know that you, for now, cannot never frown like the Buddha, the King of Dhamma. But certainly you can quickly end anger whenever it arises. The Bodhisatta, the Buddha to be, practiced this life after life.

“Uppajje me na mucceyya na me mucceyya jivato; Rajam va vipula vutthi khippameva nivaraye.”

“The Bodhisatta was aware this arisen anger will be a lifelong shackle. Just as the rising dust storm is quickly quelled by a rain storm, so too should anger be quickly quelled. This the Bodhisatta did.”

“Uppajji me na muccittha na me muccittha jivato; Rajam va vipula vutthi khippameva nivarayim.”

“This arising anger failed to bring me under its control. Thus it was unable to enslave me for a lifetime. Just as the rain quickly quells a rising dust storm, so too have I quelled anger.”

“Yamhi jate na passati ajate sadhu passati; So me uppajji no mucci kodho dummedhagocaro.”

“How harmful is this anger! Thus this is well understood when anger is absent. For, when anger arises, all reason is destroyed. Even upon the arising of such destructive anger, I was not overpowered by it. Indeed, anger is the pasture land of fools!”

“Yasmim ca jayamanamhi sadattham navabujjhati; So me uppajji no mucci kodho dummedhagocaro.”

“The anger arose which could destroy all the wisdom of a person such that he is unable even to understand his own benefit or loss; and yet such a destructive anger could not overpower me. Oh indeed, anger is the pasture land of fools!”

“Yena jatena nandanti amitta dukkhamesino; So me uppajji no mucci kodho dummedhagocaro.”

“When anger arises within, my enemies are happy: they see I have sown the seeds of my sorrow. Yet, I quelled such destructive anger. It could not enslave me. Oh indeed, anger is the pasture land of fools!”

“Yenabhibhuto kusalam jahati parakkare, vipulam ca pi attham; Sa bhimaseno balava pamaddi kodho,maharaja na me amuccatha.”

“That which overpowers and robs one off prosperity, that which has destroyed the mighty. Oh great king! This fearsome powerful anger could not ensnare me. I have been saved from being enslaved by this terrible, destructive wrath. The future Buddha, the young Bodhisatta, was delighted with this victory.”

O my insane mind! You too should tread on the sacred path of the Enlightened One. Restrain your anger. Do not let it grow, nor be overpowered by it - lest animosity casts its shadow upon your life and darken it. Break free from its clutches before you are enslaved for ever. Let the sweet rain clouds of love and compassion shower abundant mettā and dispel the dust-clouds of ill-will that arise!

“So me uppajji no mucci kodho dummedhagocaro.”

“That destructive anger did arise in me but it could not make me helpless, it could not overpower me. Anger is the pasture land only of fools!”