The Buddha taught that the fire of anger can burn up everything we have done to bring happiness to ourselves and others. There is not one of us who has not sownseeds of anger in one’s heart, and if those seeds are watered, they will grow rapidly and choke us and those around us.

When we are angry, we should come back to ourselves by means of our conscious breathing. We should not look at or listen to the one we feel is making us angry and causing us to suffer. The other person may have said or done something unskilful or unmindful. But his unskilful words or actions arise from his own suffering. He may just be seeking some relief, hoping to survive. The excessive suffering of one person will often overflow to others. A person who is suffering needs our help, not our anger. We come to see this when we examine our anger through our breathing.

The Buddha says that anger makes us look ugly. If we are able to breathe [mindfully] when we are angry and recognise the ugliness anger brings with it, that recognition acts as a bell of mindfulness. We breathe and smile mindfully in order to bring some evenness back into our hearts, at the same time relaxing the nervous system and the tense muscles of the face. We must keep on with our conscious breathing as we practise walking meditation in the open air, looking deeply at what has happened.

Mindfulness and conscious breathing are sources of energy and can calm the storm of anger, which itself is also a source of energy. If we keep practising mindfulness in order to take care of our anger with the affection of a mother when she takes a small child in her arms, then not only shall we calm the storm but we shall also be able to find out where our anger really comes from. Our practice, carefully executed, will thus be able to transform the seeds of anger in us.

Thich Nhat Hanh: The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation for Achieving the Miracle of Mindfulness


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