Anger Destroys Our Peace
Anger is by nature a painful state of mind. Whenever we are angry, our peace of mind immediately disappears and even our body becomes tense and uncomfortable. We are so restless that we find it nearly impossible to sleep, and whenever we are able to sleep it is fitful and unrefreshing. It is impossible to enjoy ourself when we are angry, and even the food we normally find delicious seems unappetizing. Anger transforms even a normally good-looking person into an ugly red-faced monster. We grow more and more unhappy, and, no matter how hard we try, we cannot control our emotions.
Since it is impossible to satisfy all our desires or to prevent undesirable situations from arising, we need to find another way of relating to frustrated desires and unwanted occurrences. We need to become familiar with patient acceptance.
Patience is a mind that is able to accept, fully and happily, whatever occurs. It is much more than just gritting our teeth and hanging in there. Being patient means to welcome wholeheartedly whatever arises, having given up the idea that things should be other than what they are. It is always possible to be patient; there are no circumstances so difficult that they cannot be accepted patiently, with an open, accommodating, and peaceful heart.
When patience is present in our mind it is impossible for disturbing thoughts to gather strength. There are many examples of people who have managed to practice patient acceptance even in the most difficult situations, such as under torture or in the final ravages of cancer. Although their body was damaged beyond repair, deep down their mind remained calm. By learning to accept the small difficulties and hardships that arise every day in the course of our lives, gradually our capacity for patience will grow and we shall come to know for ourself the deep happiness and freedom that true patience brings.
If there is a way to improve an unpleasant, difficult situation, what point is there in being unhappy? On the other hand, if it is completely impossible to improve the situation or to fulfill our wishes, there is also no reason to get upset, for how will our becoming unhappy help? This line of reasoning is very useful, for we can apply it to any situation.
Patient acceptance does not necessarily mean that we do not take practical steps to improve our situation. If it is possible to improve the situation, then of course we should; but to do this we do not need to become unhappy and impatient. For example, when we have a headache there is no contradiction between practicing patience and taking a pain killer, but until the pain killer takes effect we need to accept whatever pain we feel with a peaceful and relaxed mind. If instead of accepting our present discomfort we become unhappy and fight against it, we shall just become tense, and as a result it will take longer to get rid of our headache. Until we achieve permanent inner peace, or nirvana, we cannot avoid unpleasant, frustrating situations and a certain amount of physical pain, but by training our mind to look at difficult situations in a more realistic manner, we can free ourself from a lot of unnecessary mental pain.
Instead of reacting blindly under the control of ingrained habit, we should examine whether it is helpful or realistic to become unhappy at such times. We do not need to become unhappy just because things do not go our way. Although until now this has been our normal reaction to difficulties, once we acknowledge that it does not work we are free to respond in a more positive and realistic manner.