From the experiences of your everyday life you can understand that there is no mental peace when you do not control your mind but instead follow anger. There is peace, however, when you apply the meditations and teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment in your daily life and control your mind by practicing patience, loving kindness, and compassion. This is especially true in the dangerous circumstances that cause disturbing negative thoughts to arise.
As soon as anger begins to arise, you should immediately recognize it and remember its shortcomings. Anger does not bring the slightest benefit or happiness to you or to others. It brings only harm, making your mind unhappy and more and more vicious. Also, allowing yourself to be controlled by anger leaves an imprint on your mind, so that the next time you meet similar conditions, anger arises again. If you don't practice the graduated path in these dangerous circumstances, each time you get angry, you leave imprints on your mental continuum that are the preparation for more and more anger to arise in the future.
Anger Creates Harm
Anger obscures your mind and makes your everyday life unhappy. It can cause you physical harm and even endanger your life. When you are angry, you experience danger and unhappiness and cause fear and danger to others. You are in danger of destroying your happiness and material possessions and those of others; you are in great danger of harming the minds, bodies, and even lives of others. While your anger is strong, you can think of nothing other than to harm. You wish to destroy immediately the object of your anger. And once this thought has arisen, it takes only a moment to harm, even kill, other beings. It does not take long -- just a moment.
Anger causes you and others great problems from day to day in this life; and beyond this life, it continues to give harm for hundreds and hundreds of future lifetimes. By destroying merit, anger prevents the achievement of liberation and the state of omniscient mind. When the heart stops, life is cut off; like this, anger destroys merit and so cuts off the life of liberation. Without the heart, there is no life; without merit, there is no happiness, no liberation, no peerless happiness of omniscience.
Anger is extremely harmful. You don't even need to think about the harm that arises from anger in future lives; just think of the danger anger causes in this life. In this life alone, your anger continuously harms so many beings.
Antidote to Anger
The antidote to anger is patience. However, the angry thought itself cannot practice patience or think of the shortcomings of anger; another thought needs to remember the shortcomings of anger and practice patience. By applying the meditations and teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment, particularly those of Mahayana thought transformation, you practice patience. Immediately there is tranquility, relaxation, and much happiness in your life.
The pain of anger is like burning red-hot coals in your heart. Anger transforms even a beautiful person into something ugly and terrifying. What was happy, peaceful, and beautiful completely changes and becomes dark, ugly, terrifying. As soon as you apply the teachings and practice patience, however, anger stops; and as soon as it stops, even your appearance suddenly changes. You become peaceful and happy, and your warmhearted, loving nature makes others happy as well.
As with anger, as long as you follow desire, there is no happiness or relaxation in your heart. There is always something missing. If you examine your mind in everyday life, you can see that something is missing all the time.
No matter how much you try to enjoy different places -- living in a city or on a mountain, going to the beach or to a beautiful park; no matter how much you try to enjoy food, clothing, anything that can be obtained on this earth, there is always something missing in your heart.
No matter how many friends you have or how long you enjoy their company, there is always something missing. All the time there is something missing in your heart. You are never really happy.
Even when there is excitement in your life, if you carefully examine the nature of your mind, you will find there is still something missing. You are not completely happy. Watch your mind closely; examine it well: "Is this happiness complete or not?" It is not complete. There is still something missing.
Can't Get To Satisfaction
That is why Buddha taught that no matter where you live, it is a place of suffering; no matter what enjoyment you have, it is the enjoyment of suffering; no matter what friend you accompany, it is the friend of suffering.
As long as you follow desire, there is no satisfaction. Following desire is meant to bring satisfaction but always results in dissatisfaction. Although the aim is to gain satisfaction, because following desire is a wrong means, the result is only dissatisfaction. You follow desire, and you are not satisfied. Again you follow desire, and again you are not satisfied. Again you try, and again you are not satisfied.
It is like the life story of Elvis Presley. I learnt about his life when I was in Melbourne recently. While eating lunch one day, we watched the life story of Elvis Presley on TV. It was very interesting. His whole life story was a very effective teaching.
In both his early and later life he enjoyed pleasure and excitement. Then, in his final year, when he felt he was soon going to die. he became deeply depressed. The words of his last song were: "I tried and I tried, but I can't get no satisfaction." During his last concert, he was singing with tears streaming from his eyes, and the thousands of fans who were watching him and listening to his song were also crying. That was his last performance.
If you examine the nature of your mind while you are following desire, there is always something missing. Actually, following desire in itself is suffering, in itself is a problem. The whole thing is suffering in nature. No matter how much you follow desire, you do not gain satisfaction. The only result you receive is dissatisfaction.
The Key to Happiness
What causes problems and obstacles in life? What causes the many internal and external obstacles to your spiritual practice? What makes you unable to succeed in your Dharma practice? Following desire and not finding satisfaction. When you listen to the news on the radio, read newspapers, or watch TV, you can see that the many disasters in people's lives come from following desire and not finding satisfaction.
If you examine the nature of your mind, analyzing and questioning yourself, you find that as long as you follow desire, there is no real happiness. Something big is missing. Your life is empty.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher
Wisdom Publications, www.wisdompubs.org
Transforming Problems Into Happiness
by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
About The Author
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) -- a worldwide network of Buddhist centers, monasteries, and affiliated projects. He is the author of Transforming Problems Into Happiness, Wisdom Energy: Basic Buddhist Teachings, and Compasion y no violencia (in Spanish). Visit his website at www.lamazopa.com.