Anger: Assumptions and Levels of Expression
In this chapter I describe the various levels of anger-expression that we can have. This ranges from the lowest level -- reflexive and unthinking -- to total liberation. Before listing these levels, however, I want first to present the assumptions I am making in this study of anger.
Assumption 1: Anger Is Undesirable . It is, as the Buddha said, painful and profitless. Anger is undesirable for two reasons. First, it feels unpleasant. Irritation, grouchiness, losing your cool, are not good feelings. The mother who is exasperated with her child is in an unhappy state. These are clear examples of Dukkha that we're better off eliminating. Second, it almost always leads to the wrong action. I speak here from consistent personal experience. If I was angry I was too harsh with my child, or later regretted what I said to my wife. My own experience is also confirmed by examples from other people: The mother who says "I didn't mean to hurt the child, but I got carried away" or the person who, in an argument, becomes insulting.
This first assumption is pointedly illustrated in the following Zen-Buddhist tale: