How is anger dealt with in Buddhism?

I am really curious how anger is managed in Buddhism. What do you do with the anger that you have inside? Do you just observe it and see that it is impermanent?

For instance, say you have a negative work enviroment or relationship, or whatever you could have. When this anger is present, how is it best dealt with skillfully?

There are practices (not Buddhist) like writing angry letters (without intention of showing it to anyone) or screaming into pillows etc. This will clear your anger when it has arisen, but how is this regarded in the long term? Is it like eating a pizza while feeling the urge to eat a pizza, yes, it will make the urge go away, but you have planted seeds of desire for more pizza?

I would love some input on this. Perhaps your own thoughts, book recommendations, discourses etc.

You might be interested in this 2 part series I did last year on hate and anger.

List of links to suttas that discuss strategies for dealing with hate can be found here

Arising of Hate, Āsāduppajaha Vagga A N 2.118–129

Angry, Kodhana Sutta AN 7.64

Getting Rid of Resentment (2nd), Dutiyaāghātapaṭivinaya Sutta AN 5.162

Advice to Puṇṇa, Puṇṇovāda Sutta MN 145

About Dhammika, Dhammika Sutta AN 6.54

Getting Rid of Resentment (1st), Paṭhamaāghātapaṭivinaya Sutta AN 5.161

The Simile of the Saw, Kakacūpama Sutta MN 21

Inscriptions, Lekha Sutta AN 3.132


AN 1.11-20

“Mendicants, I do not see a single thing that prevents ill will from arising, or, when it has arisen, abandons it like the heart’s release by love. When you attend properly on the heart’s release by love, ill will does not arise, or, if it has already arisen, it’s given up.”

I think by cultivating metta, someone can prevent the anger from arising more often. Instead of expressing the anger (possibly this makes it grow), someone could try to direct the energy towards metta and make that grow instead.

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Anger is special, i find. One can ignore or abandon it consciously and even feel that the anger is gone, but unconsciously it stays present in some destructive way if one does not really communicate about what is on your heart. If you do not, one day you will have high bloodpressure, develop bodily problems etc.

All those kilesa’s, such as anger, are a kind of heartaches. Buddha talked about this as a dart in the heart. If the dart is there, passions like anger arise. They are a sign of being wounded, hurt.
If we do not communicate about this hurt, this heartache will eat us from inside. It overcomes us.
We need an upright honest viewing of our heartache.

One can try to deal with anger by forcefully supressing it, ignoring it, changing the attention of ones mind, use a medicine like loving kindness, thinking about its negative side-effects etc. but i think it is better to talk about ones heartache.

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Lovely, that’s great! I’ll be looking into these before bed tonight. Thanks a lot :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes this is what I am gravitating to as well. I recently began doing metta meditation and it seems to create a sort of mind state where anger doesn’t arise as easily.

But when the anger is present, I find that not expressing it feels like surpressing it, sort of. But then again, if I look at why I was angry - perhaps someone was rude, well then perhaps they had a really bad day because they had been through something horrible, and then my anger fades.

Its just such a powerful emotion, and it feels like it should be expressed when it is present! But in hindsight, it often seems like it would have been better not to :sweat_smile: I mean, writing an angry letter and burning it up, it harms no one else, but it’s sort of violating the precept of not using harsh or mean language :thinking:

It’s something I struggle with and find very interesting at the same time!

This is a good start. But if you go deep you will realize that anger or ill will is the second hindrance with the others being sensual desire, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and remorse and doubt.
Avijjā Sutta AN 10.61 explains how the hindrances arise and how they can be overcome and reach liberation.
As you know, impermanence is only the first characteristic of all phenomena. Whatever is impermanent is unsatisfactory. And whatever is impermanent and unsatisfactory cannot be taken as “This is mine, this I am, this is my self”.

We find this beautifully explained in Dhammapada Verses 277, 278 and 279

All formations are impermanent—
when this is seen with wisdom,
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.

All formations are suffering—
when this is seen with wisdom,
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.

All things are not-self—
when this is seen with wisdom,
one grows disillusioned with suffering:
this is the path to purity.

And Verses one and two of Dhammapada sums it all up.

All things are preceded by the mind,
surpassed by the mind, created by the mind.
If one speaks or acts
with a corrupted mind,
Then suffering follows,
As a track follows a wheel.

All things are preceded by the mind,
surpassed by the mind, created by the mind.
If one speaks or acts
with a pure mind,
Then happiness follows,
As a shadow that never leaves.

Hope this will help.
With Metta

Hey guldfiskreborn, I tried to be as brief as possible with my other post, I see now it is a bit unclear. With expression I meant the ways you were describing it in the first post. Personally I totally agree with you that suppressing or denial is not helpful. And you’re not really going to be 100% without anger either - unless you’re an arahat, in the way I understand it. What works for me now is to be aware of the anger and trying to backtrack a little, where it started and why. That usually helps me to give it up. But of course, I get angry, today I was irritated for a few minutes about someone forgetting they had already met me. :sweat_smile: And as you described, the metta helps with putting it all into perspective.

You mentioned impermanence and when cultivated that allows detachment from conventional reality. This is an area of knowledge that has to be acquired in itself. With that the cycles of anger and desire as emotional defilements are able to be seen objectively- how they arise, reach a peak, and decline. With that view it is able to be clearly seen when to intervene and when not to. That is skillful action. That is another area that requires development. Of course most fall into the trap of intervening at the peak and that is wrong timing. Intervening at the right time often appears externally as patience, but it’s really understanding, there is no blind patience in Buddhism. Mostly the time to act is long after the actual incident and indirectly, but this requires belief in the action of kamma, and also understanding that non-action has material results. This is a third area requiring acquisition of knowledge through observation. In most cases the only way a situation can be skilfully manipulated is through the force of non-action. A certain amount of resistance is an inevitable dynamic of conditioned reality, so it needs to be positively directed.

A nun advising a layperson:

“Is resistance-obsession to be abandoned with regard to all painful feeling?” “No.”—MN 44