How to let go of anger and hateful thoughts?

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    • #16412


      I started reading the Dhamma articles presented by Lal since last 2 weeks. I felt the Niramisa Sukha after letting go of the anger and hateful thoughts and the body felt light like some burden has been removed off my shoulders. I felt good reading the Dhamma and was at peace, my depression went away.

      But since yesterday the anger and hateful thoughts came back although not as intense as before but to a lesser degree. So to let go of this negativity I countered those thoughts by looking at the bigger picture, I started thinking along the lines of 1) This anger/hate will become my Gathi and I will end up in the lower realms, 2) Every human is stuck in this Samsara and tried to show compassion towards them but I hate/anger won’t go away. The anger/hate is mostly due to how people were mean, selfish and things that happened in the past.

      I would like to request Lal and other members what worked for them. Any ideas that could get rid of these akusala?


    • #16413

      Hi Aniduan,

      You said: “But since yesterday the anger and hateful thoughts came back although not as intense as before but to a lesser degree. So to let go of this negativity I countered those thoughts by looking at the bigger picture, I started thinking along the lines of 1) This anger/hate will become my Gathi and I will end up in the lower realms..”

      The issue is a bit more complex. We do not form gathi in days or weeks, even though an intense experience can point one towards forming a new habit (the closest English translation for gathi is habit/character). Again, I am not sure how may posts on gathi at the website you have read.
      – Normally, one has certain set of gathi formed over many, many lives in the past. These are also closely connected to anusaya. Again, I am not sure whether you are familiar with the term anusaya. Anyway, if you can provide a brief summary of your understanding about these concepts, I can suggest a few things.

      I guess you meant to say: “2) Every human is stuck in this Samsara and tried to show compassion towards them but my hate/anger won’t go away. The anger/hate is mostly due to how people were mean, selfish and things that happened in the past.”

      Here it seems that “an angry gathi” that you had was triggered by some event. Is that right? Did someone do something to make you angry? Also, have you had such occurrences in the past several years, where anger was triggered by some incident?
      – Myself and others hopefully will be able to comment more based on your response.

    • #16417

      Hi Lal,

      Thank you for your response.

      Just to give a back ground. I was not an angry person. But in the last 10 years or so(I am 40 year old) I used to get angry very easily and in the recent years I am angry almost all the time. I will keep thinking of people that I hate over and over for hours at a time. I became short tempered and shout at people for small issues especially at my wife. This led me to get drunk frequently and pass out as that’s the only way I could sleep well. I have been depressed(mildly) also since past 5 years.

      I have read many dhamma articles on gathi and anusaya on your website but I may not have quite grasped the concepts yet. I will keep on reading..

      Your question: “Here it seems that “an angry gathi” that you had was triggered by some event. Is that right? Did someone do something to make you angry? Also, have you had such occurrences in the past several years, where anger was triggered by some incident?”

      The anger is basically due to people and incidents that happened in the past. Just to give a few examples:
      1) I got t-boned in an accident at a signal and the person who made the mistake lied to the insurance
      2) Got into a nasty verbal argument with a person who cut a line at a grocery store
      3) Anger at close relatives because I don’t like some of the things they do/don’t do
      4) Anger at boss who doesn’t provide good project opportunities
      5) Annoying and selfish co-workers
      6) Anger at previous landlord who was mean and unfair

      I can go on and on but this is just a small list of people/incidents.

      The anger/hate is so strong that its like a tide and I am overpowered. When I felt the niramisa sukha for the first few weeks after reading your posts I didn’t feel any hate/anger and in fact I forgave all of them but its now back…


    • #16419

      I moved this topic to “Kamma and Kamma Vipaka” forum, since this is really a question on how to deal with kamma vipaka. We all go through situations like this (some much worse), and thus I thought to have a comprehensive discussion on this topic. I hope others with problems/issues like this will talk about their experiences and hopefully will also benefit from this discussion. Please try to go through the links provided, since I don’t want to keep repeating things.

      Also, please don’t take what I say personally (and that applies to ALL my responses). I am not going to focus on just Aniduan’s situation, even though I may refer to it at times. This analysis is general. One will be able to get a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma by carefully going through the links provided and, if needed, searching and reading other relevant posts.

      It is always good to start by looking at the “root cause” of any problem. Instead of dealing with each issue as they come up, we need to have a good understanding of why we all face situations like the one described by Aniduan.

      1. Nothing happens without one or more causes. On the other hand, even if CAUSES are there, for something to happen, suitable CONDITIONS must be there too. This is a key principle in Buddha Dhamma; see, “Do Things Just Happen? – The Hidden Causes”. By the way, this is also called Paticca Samuppada.
      2. All life experiences we go through can be traced back to our MINDS: What we think, speak, and do, will have consequences. This is why “sankhara” come at the beginning of a paticca samuppada cycle. This is another key point most people do not understand, but I hope will become clear as we proceed.
      3. When something happens to us (injury, major sickness, etc), we tend to think it is just “bad luck”. That is wrong. “We reap what we sow”. We can see this clearly when we look at wider world. Think about a deer being eaten alive by a tiger. It is not like tiger kills the deer and eats it; it is really eaten alive. All these are due to kamma vipaka. But it is important to realize that kamma vipaka are NOT deterministic; see, “What is Kamma? – Is Everything Determined by Kamma?“.
      4. Kamma vipaka are not deterministic because they can be avoided by understanding the importance of the CONDITIONS. We can do that as humans. But animals cannot.

      5. Furthermore, we can go one more step and make existing kamma beeja (which are responsible for bringing kamma vipaka) effectively “duds”, as we discussed recently: “Kanha (Dark) and Sukka (Bright) Kamma and Kammakkhaya“.
      6. What happens in general is that when we suffer due to a bad kamma vipaka, we tend to respond in ways where we do more bad kamma and accumulate more kamma beeja, which can bring more vipaka, and so on.
      7. – The Buddha said this is why our samsaric journey never ends: “kamma vipaka vaddanti, vipako kamma sambhavo”. If we need to break this cycle, we need to understand how to make existing kamma beeja “effectively duds”: That is the key to end of ALL future suffering or Nibbana. This is why the post in #4 above is very important.

      8. However, well before we work towards ending sansaric suffering, we need to figure out how to deal with “short term suffering”, like the one Aniduan described. We need to have a ‘peace of mind” and also the right mindset to grasp deeper Dhamma concepts like Paticca Samuppada and Tilakkhana.
      9. Here we need to do two things: Make conditions for “good kamma beeja” to bring good kamma vipaka and also avoid conditions for “bad kamma beeja” to bring bad vipaka. I suggest reading the posts in #1 and #3 above, and in “Pattana Dhamma”.
        – This happened when you had a peaceful mind for a couple of weeks when you were immersed in Dhamma, while reading posts here. But then conditions changed when you had a bad encounter with someone. The key is to learn how to control one’s emotions when faced with such unexpected harsh encounters. This is done by cultivating Satipatthana (thinking about the bad consequences).

      Let me close this post by making a suggestion to Aniduan. When someone says or does something to aggravate you, try to “let it go”, i.e, try not to accumulate more kamma beeja; furthermore, retaliation can worsen the situation and makes one’s mind “heated” and uncomfortable. This is hard to do in the beginning, but when one sees the benefits, it will become easier.
      – Another is of course to try to avoid interacting with such “annoying people” if possible.
      – Yet another is to do one’s best to avoid CONDITIONS that could “germinate existing bad kamma beeja”. For example, drinking too much leads to bad decision making, not doing enough exercises/not eating healthy foods can lead to health problems etc (these are of course not directed to Aniduan).

      I can go into more details if needed, and we can also discuss any other related issues not discussed above and related questions/ideas from others who may have their own experiences.

    • #16424

      Thank you Mr.Lal.

      I read all the links your provided and the sub-links in each dhamma article. As far as I understood, the conditions were right for my kamma beeja to sprout. Some of the kamma vipaka are avoidable but most of them are not. All the situations I encountered are due to my past bad kamma and by reacting to them I am creating more kamma beeja.

      It’s now very easy for me to forgive them as it’s ME and NOT them that are responsible for the incidents. I am back to feeling niramisa sukha. I guess I just need to keep working patiently and diligently.

      I think I came across this website due to some good kamma in the past. Big thanks to Mr.Lal for presenting pure dhamma.


    • #16441

      Hi Aniduan,
      I am glad to hear that. I know there could many others who may have a difficult time believing this. The reason for that skepticism is that it is hard for us to “see” the power of the human mind.

      But this is the key to understanding Buddha Dhamma. The “proof“ is actually what you said: One can experience the results.

      We cannot “see” the radio or television waves emitted by the broadcasting stations. But we know they exist because we can tune to the station we want by tuning to the right frequency. We can stay away from those we don’t want.
      Just like that by adjusting our minds, we can tap the “correct Dhamma” (normally called “Dhamma)and reject the “bad Dhamma” (also called “Adhamma).

      The following Dhammapada verse explains why one can NEVER overcome anger (vera) by anger; it can only be overcome by non-hate or compassion (avera).

      Na hi verena verani
      sammantidha kudacanam
      averena ca sammanti
      esa dhammo sanantano

      It is easier to see the meaning when we break adjoined terms (“anta” is end; “san” is what we do to extend samsara, i.e., sankhara; “ku” are defilements); see, “What is “San”? Meaning of Sansāra (or Samsāra)“. It is important to see how the sounds may change when two words are combined: it is the natural way the sound comes out:

      Na hi verena verani
      san anti
      (will end or stop) idha ku (defilements) udda (to uproot) ācanam (ācaya means “to accumulate”)
      averena ca san anti (anti is come to an end)
      esa dhammo san antano (that which stops)”.

      “Anger cannot be overcome by anger.
      Defilement of the mind ends when those ‘ku’ are uprooted
      Compassion will lead to the end of “san” (here to stop bad thoughts from arising)
      This is the Dhamma (or the way) to end “san” (and thus to attain peace)”.

      It is also important to make this “peace of mind” permanent (i.e., remove anusaya or remove “ku” permanently from the mind). That involves comprehending Tilakkhana. That is what is meant by “kammakkhaya” in the post: “Kanha (Dark) and Sukka (Bright) Kamma and Kammakkhaya“.

      If anyone has questions on that or the above, we can discuss.

    • #16451

      Just yesterday at the time of this writing, I was on an MRT (our country’s subway) train. I offered my seat to an elderly passenger who was standing, thinking that he needed the seat more than I did. What did I get in return? He made biting remarks: ‘You think I need a seat ah (ah is one of our country’s slang words which can mean irony or sarcasm)? Stupid!’

      I think he felt offended that I thought him frail enough to be in need of a seat, and retaliated by calling me a fool in public.

      In the past, I would have felt very hurt and angry, and started a mental tirade against him in my mind. ‘How could he say that to me in public! Doesn’t he realize that that word was insulting and humiliating? What a rude man! And after me just wanting to offer him something in kindness! How ungrateful and unkind!’ (Now I hope of course that that man does not come to read these words; they are only meant for the rest who could derive some benefit from this post).

      However, when it happened yesterday, I felt strangely calm and not in the least bit angry. I just accepted the insult nonchalantly and went back to my seat. I did not wish to retaliate and was not in the least bit vengeful. It was as though what just happened was not sufficient to arouse anger in me.

      This was a moment of revelation for me. When anger did not arise in me, I felt peaceful. Had I seethed with anger, my day would have been ruined and my mood would have turned dark and bitter. I would likely have set up more akusala kamma by committing bad abhisankhara. Indeed this is one of the ways that beings get trapped deeper and deeper in samsara. They receive bad vipaka, which triggers their gathi to commit even more akusala kamma in anger or retaliation, and reinforces their bad gathi, which further bind them to samsara.

      Now I am far from being an Arahant or even an Anagami. In fact, I am not even a Sotapanna and doubt if I could be a Sotapanna Anugami (at least I am confused about the difference between a Sotapanna and a Sotapanna Anugami). I can still feel strong anger when confronted with other matters.

      It could be that Lal’s posts have helped me change. After reading about paticca samupadda, anicca, dukkha and anatta, the refuttation of the Buddha about the beliefs of self and non-self, I believe that I have come to adopt a happier and healthier attitude towards life. At least I can strive for meaning in an existence of meaninglessness, by trying to set up the conditions to escape samsara in this life. Thank you so much, Lal, for all your efforts!

      When major (or many minor) bad things happen to those of us who believe in kamma, it is all too easy to feel bad about ourselves. We may think that we have done something terrible in past lives to warrant receiving such bad vipaka.

      However, we have all probably been kings, politicians, judges, teachers, or parents in past lives who needed to pass harsh judgements and condemnations against those who had committed wrongdoings. This world is full of hidden dukkha, and even the very act of trying to protect the good and instill good moral values in people may mean that various akusala kamma may be committed, together wiith some kusala kamma. After all, we are not fully enlightened Buddhas who do not commit a single iota of akusala kamma after attaining Nirvana. And the remnants of these unfortunate akusala kamma can manifest their vipaka in different ways, when there are suitable conditions in place.

      So please never feel guilty about receiving bad vipaka. Instead do use them as lessons to arrive at niramisa sukha, by realizing that we do not have to take them too personally, just like what Aniduan did. And I sincerely hope that I do not receive bad kamma vipaka for posting this,since some of my posts may upset certain readers unintentionally.

    • #16464

      Thank you, firewns, for sharing your experience. That is a text book example of “cooling down”.
      – You said, “Had I seethed with anger, my day would have been ruined and my mood would have turned dark and bitter.” That is exactly right.
      – Furthermore, you also possibly “stopped arising of suffering in future rebirths” from that incident too; sometimes things get escalated and get out-of-hand.

      Both Aniduan’s and firewns’s experiences are mostly related to anger.
      We should not forget that we get “attached” (tanha) via greed (both due to ignorance) too; see, “Tanhā – How We Attach Via Greed, Hate, and Ignorance“.
      – For example, one could get attracted to a married person and start an affair.

      Both versions of tanha lead to distress (soka) and danger (via getting frightened) (bhaya), as pointed out in the following Dhammapada gatha:

      “Tanhaya japati soko
      tanhaya jayati bhayam
      tanhaya vippamuttassa
      natthi soko kuto bhayam”.

      Here vippamutta comes from “vippa” (separate or get released) and “mutta” (become free), i.e., become free by separating from tanha, in this case. So, the verse reads:

      Tanha leads to distress and danger (getting frightened)
      By detaching from tanha, one will be free of distress and danger”.

      The more one goes through experiences like Aniduan’s and firewns’s, one’s gati will change and then more and more one will be responding correctly in such situations. And the more one responds like that (automatically), that is the confirmation of comprehension of Tilakkhana, i.e., not acting with avijja. It may not happen under strong sense influences, but one needs to correct oneself as soon as one realizes that one is not “acting properly”. That is the real practice of Satipatthana.

    • #16481

      Thank you Lal for your explanation.

      I am very glad I possibly “stopped arising of suffering in future rebirths” from that incident.

      Sometimes we retaliate angrily out of perceived cultural norms that we should defend our honour or to save ‘face’. For example, in certain societies, there is a culture of honour in which slights to one’s pride should be avenged, if my knowledge of my university psychology textbook materials is still accurate.

      Then there are other societies in which it is important to save ‘face’.

      These expectations may even be so ingrained in us that we unconsciously see them as our very own personal expectations.

      However all these cultural norms and expectations pale in comparison to the Buddha’s wisdom in advising us to restrain immoral thoughts and refrain from carrying out immoral actions of mind, speech and body. It is not cowardly, but indeed very wise, to avoid needless escalation of conflicts that could give rise to future bad kamma vipaka.

      Indeed, the Buddha is an extremely knowledgeable and competent psychologist, therapist and emotional ‘doctor’. He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, out there in addressing the root causes of suffering.

      Even non-Buddhists, I feel, would do well to learn from His teachings on how to reduce suffering. They may ignore the more supramundane parts of His teachings, if they are not yet ready or are unwilling to accept those aspects of His teachings. But it is an undeniable fact that His teachings would be very helpful to anyone who is distressed about life.

      Of course, they may also need to supplement the Buddha’s teachings with other forms of therapy that are specifically adapted to their unique situations and needs.

    • #16482

      firewrns said :”Sometimes we retaliate angrily out of perceived cultural norms that we should defend our honour or to save ‘face’. For example, in certain societies, there is a culture of honour in which slights to one’s pride should be avenged..”

      Yes. There are many unwise or even dangerous accepted norms like that: covering women’s bodies with burka (so that men don’t get aroused!), halal meat (where an animal’s skin is punctured and hanged so that it will bleed to death; the idea is to have meat that is not “contaminated” with blood), etc. Some people are even convinced of possible rewards of suicide bombings!

    • #16489
      y not

      It is all a matter of conditioning.

      One is influenced emotionally and psychologically by whatever envirnonment one grows up in. Moreover, the tenets and creeds particular to any belief system are handed down to you by those who love you and have your well-being at heart: teachers, mentors, and parents more than anyone else. ‘What? MY parents would teach me something untrue? They love me’ But they themselves are ‘victims’ of that conditioning.

      That is how people become Christian, Hindus, Buddhists. I say ‘become’, because at birth one is not anything. All is handed down to you, sometimes even forced upon you by threats of hell fires, excomunication etc. (My reply to that has always been: If I am not communicated in the first place, how will anyone be able to EXcomunicate me?

      I saw this at a very early age. Of course, I was labelled a black sheep, a stranger, an alien even. I would take nothing on blind belief or on external authority. Why should it be that I just happened to be born in that part of the world where they ‘have the truth’? (All those beyond are doomed, poor fellows) To my mind, they are very few indeed who are willing to leave the ‘security zone of the greatest number all around’ to go on a search of their own in the quest of Truth or Reality – how things really are. But there is no quest that is more noble and more worthwhile in the long run – and yes, also the hardest.

      y not

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