Letters

Is It Right To Be Angry (At The Angry)?

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Question: Is it not right to be angry at those who have offended us?

Answer: Other than doing what practical to clear misunderstandings, there should not be anger, which only harms your mental well-being, and might further anger those who offended you, thus also harming their mental well-being. Being angry thus lacks compassion and wisdom. As Stonepeace put it, ‘Do not be mad at another mad person. There is already one too many mad persons.‘ Here, a ‘mad person’ can refer to an angry person, or a mentally ill person. There should be empathy instead.

Question: Is it not right to be angry at those angry at us without sound reasons?

Answer: That is just feeding fuel to the fire of mutual destruction. Again, where practical, just do what is needed to clear misunderstandings. In the Buddha’s teachings, with hatred being the second of the Three Poisons (of greed, hatred and delusion), and as one of the three roots of all evil, anger (which arises from hatred) is always wrong. That said, no matter how reasonable we might be, we should still stoically brace ourselves for those who are by ‘nature’ unreasonable.

As Stonepeace put it, ‘Noble persons who diligently cultivate virtues, already naturally conduct themselves with integrity. Small persons, although lacking virtues, naturally admonish noble persons.‘ (君子勤修德,自然已自重。小人虽缺德,自然诫君子。) This means noble persons should not fault small persons for being ‘themselves’, although the latter should also ennoble themselves when they realise the error of their ways.

Question: Is it not right to be angry at those who wronged us?

Answer:  That is still wrong, and two wrongs do not make a right. Again, where practical, just do what is needed to clear misunderstandings — without being personal. As Stonepeace put it, ‘Noble persons yet to point out names, tactfully advise everybody. Small persons (with few virtues and) with minds guilty, rush to match their ticket numbers to enter “their” seats (instead).‘ (君子未指名,婉转劝各位。小人心虚急,对号入座位。) May we never lose graciousness when pointing out others’ mistakes, and when ‘accepting’ others’ pointing out of our mistakes — even if they do so ‘personally’ and wrongly.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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