The Danger of Anger or Pride Damaging Our Practice

Not Getting Angry toward Those Who Are Negative toward Us

When people react a long time very negatively toward me, I have a problem to still have this feeling of love and kindness toward this person. Sometimes I feel I need to be tough with this person; it can’t go on like this. How to deal with that situation?

You shouldn’t feel badly about this because all these attitudes that I’ve been discussing for developing compassion are things that you can’t develop just all at once. You have to actually clean out your heart and your mind and develop and train yourself to have these attitudes with a very long and continuing practice. If you can’t, you have to persevere in these methods that I’ve been discussing, and if you can’t think to help and feel kindly toward these people who are hurting you, then at least you should restrain yourself from hurting them back.

If you practice, you will be able to gain any ability and talent. Abilities don’t come without practice. You have to practice and train yourself. If you look at some people, they practice by hitting their hand against pieces of wood and bricks and eventually they are able to smash their hand through a wall without feeling any pain, and this is something that you can’t just do all at once, just walk up to a wall and hit it, but you have to practice and train over a long period of time.

For instance, consider if there was somebody who was always hurting you and whom you always felt great hatred for. If this person came up to you one day and said, “I’m very, very sorry for everything that I’ve done. Please accept my apology. Here’s a present of some money,” and was very nice to you, would your anger subside or not? Would you still be angry?

Probably not.

If your anger would go down if somebody did that to you, and apologized and tried to make nice, then likewise the same thing would happen if you did that to the other person who you had difficulties with. If they won’t accept your apology you can take your money back. The other person then will feel very sorry that he didn’t accept your apology. Then that person will look out of the window and try to see where you went. Isn’t that so? The other person really lost his chance to get any money. Now what would you like to ask?

Expressing Anger

In the West there’s a concept that if you don’t express anger you get ulcers in the stomach. Could you comment on this.

I agree that it’s not good to keep anger inside, that it is proper to express it, but you have to be very careful and skilled in choosing the proper time to express your grievance. You should never talk or say anything when you’re in a fit of anger. You have to first of all try to calm down yourself. It’s very good when you’re in a fit of anger and feeling very bad to go for a walk, or go and spend some pleasant time with friends and then when you’re calmed down, you can say something. Likewise you should see the situation of the other person, and not speak when likewise they’re in a fit of rage, and also wait until they’re calm.

You also have to examine honestly who is wrong. If you yourself were wrong, then you should be brave enough to be able to admit it. If it was something that the other person did which was wrong, then when the situation is proper, then you should explain very carefully and skillfully that "I did like this and you did like this, and that was perhaps incorrect" and discuss it in a calm situation. If someone is very angry and upset and they can’t even eat, and you go and talk to them and say, "What’s the problem that’s making you so upset that you can’t eat?" that person would need to be able to explain what was troubling them. But you should never get into this type of discussion when you or the other person are both in a fit of rage and very angry.

You should give an example for a type of anger or grievance that you would keep inside of you and that would cause you so much grief that it gives you an ulcer.

I wasn’t talking about myself. I was speaking more about the theory.

If there were three people together and two of them pour themselves a cup of tea and they don’t serve the third person, the third person could get very hurt and angry, is this a type of example?

[No reply. Another participant] What about youngsters don’t behave as the parents want, and the parents tell them, "We get ulcers because you don’t behave like we want." What should the young people do in that situation? Should they just leave the parents’ house? Should they quit the relation? What should they do?

What is it that you’re doing that annoys your parents?

The problem is the type of work I do, the money he earns, all his income goes to lamas – my father doesn’t like it.

Your father doesn’t like you to go to teachings of lamas?

Sometimes. My father thinks I should be concerned with worldly affairs, earn a lot of money, employ a lot of people, kind of exploit other people more. It’s not that he said I shouldn’t see this lama, so it’s kind of more general. He doesn’t take it seriously what I'm doing.

What would be wrong if you tried to do both? To make a little bit of money that would please your father and then also follow a spiritual path as well?

I try more and more to find a middle way how to do it.

That’s the right way of doing it; that’s very good.

But it gives me a bad feeling because my father said, "I’m sick because you don’t do what I want."

You should say to your father "Please don’t worry. You shouldn’t feel sick or like that, because I am doing what you ask me to do” and in that way you do some work. But as was explained before, the main thing in spiritual practice is to work on your attitude, on your heart, on your mind, and use your speech, your verbal energy in terms of mantras and whatever work you do doesn’t harm that. This means Dharma things, spiritual things are something that you do privately for yourself.

The Use of Violence to Improve Situations

What does Rinpoche think about the case when people or countries are very suppressed in their material living conditions, and suppressed in their freedom. Is it okay for them to unite and even to use violence in order to improve their living conditions in order to alter the situation for the better?

If your aim is to get rid of the suffering and difficulties for everybody, then it is permitted to use whatever means are necessary. But if it’s only for yourself to get ahead, then that wouldn’t be proper. There's the example where the Buddha himself killed someone; you should relate your question to that. The Buddha in a previous lifetime killed someone who was going to kill 500 merchants in a boat. The Buddha killed this person himself to prevent all this harm happening and took on the negative consequences himself. If you have that type of bravery and courage to do something like that to help everybody and accept the consequences yourself, then that’s okay.

The Danger of Pride When Practicing Exchanging of Attitudes about Self and Others

Is there a danger that exchanging self and others could lead to another disturbing attitude, pride, where I just get a lot of attention from others because I’m so nice and so kind to them?

It is true that danger does arise when you might feel that you’re so wonderful that you’re helping everybody, but that’s the reason why it’s always stressed that this process of changing your attitude with respect to self and others, all this type of practice should be done in a concealed manner and privately. You shouldn’t tell people what you’re doing; it’s just something that you do privately by yourself in terms of working on your own attitude. You don’t advertise what you’re doing.

If, for instance, our mother or father were to die we would cry. Likewise, if a moth flies into the flame of the candle and dies, if you were to cry in that situation as well, that would be alright, that would be good. But if you were to cry like that over a moth in front of other people, that wouldn’t do at all. That would look ridiculous. Because then you’re sitting and putting on such a pretentious appearance of doing this kind of practice, you just look absurd and ridiculous. This is just an example.

The whole world is there, if I tell them or not; so even if I practice in secrecy I can get this attitude and feel I’m so wonderful.

It’s not as bad to feel that way in private, but when you go around and tell people how wonderful you are, that’s something which is much worse. But to just feel like that by yourself when you are alone is something that you just contain within yourself. It wouldn’t be as negative, and also because there are no other people around you to feed that, then it doesn’t becomeso great. That’s why it’s very important to start off in terms of trying to get rid of your obsession with things for this lifetime. In general there are various worldly types of feelings which are very difficult to overcome; but, you have to work on them.