“There is no error greater than hatred,
And nothing mightier than patience.
So I strive in every way to learn patience.”
Think of anger. Anger is the mind that wishes to harm and hurt. Patience is the mind that holds back from harming or hurting. Anger is most difficult to deal with; patience is most difficult to develop. Patience is the only thing that defeats anger. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t do it right away. Even after years of practice you may find that you’re still losing your temper. It’s all right. But you will also notice that the power of anger has weakened, that it doesn’t last as long, and does not as easily turn into hatred.
If patience comes easily to you, wonderful. If not, how do go from anger to patience?
When negative emotions are strong they tend to overpower you; you could never take suggestions, never be able to apply an antidote. You need time and space. First, find out if you’re willing to see whether your anger is valid or not valid. If you are not willing to see that, then take a break. Walk outside. Go to a nice place where there’s a beautiful view. Divert your attention through something neutral, like nature. In Tibet, many of my teachers liked to go up on a high mountain overlooking the valley, the river, the mountains. They let their disturbing thoughts fly away—if they had them at all—and took in the fresh air. Certain traditions even recommend that you watch the sunset from a slightly high vantage point, stand lightly, bouncing gently on your toes. Breathe out gently three, nine, or twenty·one times, using breath as a vehicle to carry your thoughts away. Let your heavy thoughts go with the setting sun and bid them goodbye.
When a thought of violence pops up very strongly and you divert your attention to a neutral level, by doing so, the force that was pushing you to do the wrong thing is weakened. Once it has been weakened, there’s the opportunity to do something else. Also, give yourself ample time to dwell in the feeling of the nice cool breeze … long enough so that any disturbing impulse cools, not physically, but mentally—only don’t catch cold.
Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters
This is the first of your three free articles this month. Subscribe today to gain access to our award-winning publication plus all of our online offerings, including films, video dharma talks, e-books, and more.Subscribe Now
Already a subscriber? Log in.