The Nobel Peace Prize nominee and internationally bestselling author shares the tools and power for overcoming anger. It was under the bodhi tree in India twenty-five centuries ago that Buddha achieved the insight that three states of mind were the source of all our unhappiness: ignorance, obsessive desire, and anger. All are equally difficult, but in one instant of anger, lives can be ruined, and our spiritual development can be destroyed. Twenty-five hundred years after the Buddha's enlightenment, medical science tells us that the Buddha was right: anger can also ruin our health. It is one of the most powerful emotions and one of the most difficult to change. Thich Nhat Hanh offers a fresh perspective on taking care of our anger as we would take care of a crying baby-picking it up, talking quietly to it, probing for what is making the baby cry. Laced with stories and techniques, Anger offers a wise and loving look at transforming anger into peace and for bringing harmony and healing to all the areas and relationships in our lives that have been affected by anger.
In an age of road rage, Americans would do well to cool down with prolific Buddhist monk Hanh (Living Buddha, Living Christ). There is plenty in this small volume worth skipping, such as Hanh's tedious call for "Healing the Wounded Child Within." And some of his advice is banal (e.g., if a husband is angry at his wife, he should tell her). But some of Hanh's suggestions cut refreshingly against the grain. He dissents, for example, from the popular therapeutic wisdom to "express our anger": when we beat a pillow to get rid of our feelings, he insists we are merely "rehearsing" our anger, not "reducing" it. Hanh reminds us that anger begins and ends with ourselves we may feel that we are mad at our wife or son, but really we are the direct objects of our rage. Hanh doesn't limit his task to discussing anger between families and friends; he also deals with anger among countries and between citizens and governments. That expansive vision is not surprising (Hanh, after all, is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee) but it is refreshing, lifting this book out of the self-absorbed self-help pile. Like Hanh's other books, this is not weighed down with Buddhist terminology. The appendices, which contain meditations designed to help release anger, give it the specifically Buddhist spice that some readers will appreciate. The meat of the book, however, will be accessible to a broad, ecumenical audience. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 08, 2001
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Excerpt from Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh
To be happy, to me, is to suffer less. If we were not capable of transforming the pain within ourselves, happiness would not be possible.
Many people look for happiness outside themselves, but true happiness must come from inside of us. Our culture tells us that happiness comes from having a lot of money, a lot of power, and a high position in society. But if you observe carefully, you will see that many rich and famous people are not happy. Many of them commit suicide.
The Buddha and the monks and nuns of his time did not own anything except their three robes and one bowl. But they were very happy, because they had something extremely precious -- freedom.
According to the Buddha's teachings, the most basic condition for happiness is freedom. Here we do not mean political freedom, but freedom from the mental formations of anger, despair, jealousy, and delusion. These mental formations are described by the Buddha as poisons. As long as these poisons are still in our heart, happiness cannot be possible.
In order to be free from anger, we have to practice, whether we are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish. We cannot ask the Buddha, Jesus, God, or Mohammed to take anger out of our hearts for us. There are concrete instructions on how to transform the craving, anger, and confusion within us. If we follow these instructions and learn to take good care of our suffering, we can help others do the same.