Did the Buddha get angry?

Hmmm … A long time ago, I remember reading a Mahayana text that quoted the Buddha as saying something like: “The Tathāgata doesn’t get angry. But if he did, it would be as terrifying and as harmless as the dawn.” I thought that a really beautiful turn of phrase. Anyone happen to know the origin of it? (I don’t think I’m creative enough to have entirely imagined it… :sweat_smile:)



I think the Buddha was just highlighting the importance of not misrepresenting him, because as other Suttas show, that’s tantamount to slandering the Tathagata, and the potential for others to be misled through such slander is an incredible waste of human potential. (cough Abhidhamma cough)

Any parent with some degree of equanimity and wisdom knows that you can “display” a certain authority, stern-ness or anger with your children, for their sake and safety, without actually feeling any akusala mindstates yourself. I think that’s what we’re seeing in the aforementioned discourse.



I believe the uprooting of anusaya, asava, tanha is the end of the reactivity system of the mind. The habitual tendencies. Sense contacts do not immediately, automatically, lead anymore to arising drifts, floods, winds, desires, passions, tendencies, wrong views, which start to govern thinking, speaking and acting. That kind of volitional activity and intoxication is gone.

It does not mean, i believe, that all desires are gone, all wishes, all volitional. For example, the sutta’s describe that also a Buddha has a wish to be understood. He has a preference for seclusion, silent Sangha’s and places. He probably does not visit theater, concerts etc. He is not a dead piece of wood. He is not without all will i think.

Is a Buddha really unable to become angry and can we say that when we see someone become angry that person cannot be arahant, wise, compassionate, loving? Is reality that simple?
I do not think so. I believe this is not the meaning of the uprooting of (dosa) anusaya’s. That is a special kind of will, more instinct-like, reactive kind of will. One can say a blind will or blinding will.

A Buddha is without blind and blinding will, but not without will, and therefor i believe he can still become angry, impatient, burdened and affected when people do not understand him, misinterpret him, just like every human. But this is not reactivity-based.

I think the issue is: the uprooting of anusaya and also tanha does not mean one becomes totally without any will, without any sense of self nor without any me and mine making. But only those habitual and blinding patterns to see body and mind as me and mine or gone.

But ofcourse…a Buddha still treats the body as me, and protects it from harm. He does seek shadow on heat days etc. But his protectiveness is not rooted in blindness anymore.

There is just a huge difference between someone who cannot help to see body and mind processes instinctively, habitually as me and mine and protect it with all he can, and people who are awakened have gone beyond this and still deal in an intelligent way with body and mind processes.

To me it makes sense, so probably to nobody else :innocent:

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I am not an arahant, nor have I met the Buddha, but based on what I have read in the suttas, prima facie, this resonates closer to the truth to me than the Buddha being someone who never expresses the qualities of frustration, impatience, crankiness, annoyance, preference, and so on.

That’s my submission for the Unpopular Opinion of the Day. :laughing:

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Here is an extract from the commentary to MN9 on harsh speech.
<For sometimes parents even say to their children, “May robbers chop you to pieces!” yet they do not even wish a lotus leaf to fall upon them. And teachers and preceptors sometimes say to their pupils, “What is the use of these shameless and heedless brats? Drive them out!” yet they wish for their success in learning and attainment.

Just as, through gentleness of mind, speech is not harsh, so through gentleness of speech, speech does not become unharsh; for the words “Let him sleep in peace” spoken by one wishing to kill are not unharsh speech. But harsh speech is such on account of harshness of mind only.>


don’t know why I have no delete button

We do not know the exact intentions of the Buddha, but one would assume that Buddhas are motivated by undefiled states of mind as they are fully enlightened.

Assertiveness and anger are different, right? Maybe the Buddha was assertive rather than angry.

The Buddha can feel any moral emotion He or She wants to.

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This is an interesting topic. In addition to AnapanMichael’s example and the title post, there are several others in which the Buddha seems to use harsh speech or fall short of a paragon of wisdom. On a few occasions, he insults Devadatta, even in front of others, as when he suggested that he wouldn’t leave the leadership of the Sangha even to Sariputta and Moggadalla, let alone to a ‘lick-spittle’ like Devadatta. In The Life of the Buddha, there are a few examples when quite arbitrary and random rules are being introduced by the Buddha: on one occasion, two senior monks saw someone approaching that was wearing a robe of the same size of the Buddha, and so believed him to be the Buddha. When they realized that he wasn’t the Buddha, but just a junior monk, they went and complained to the Buddha about it! In response, the Buddha decreed that no Bhikkhu would be allowed to wear a robe of a certain size - i.e. the size of the Buddha. Interestingly, that is apparently how it is known that the Buddha was of average stature. Then, there is the incident of the Buddha’s aunt and surrogate mother who pleaded with Buddha to be ordained three times and rejected as many - incident that results in more than a few head-scratchers, including the prediction of survival of the Dharma being cut from a thousand years to only 500, among others.

I would say that in relation to the vastness of the suttas, these and other examples are very few and far in between. They just stand out jarringly, almost, for being so seemingly out of character.

P. S. For a few laughs, google “SNL rude Buddha”.