Buddha and the Angry Man

As the inaugural post, we’ll kick off with a popular one from the previous blog, which is a modern take on the Akkosa Sutta.

buddha and the angry man“One day Buddha was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him.

“You have no right teaching others,” he shouted. “You are as stupid as everyone else. You are nothing but a fake.”

Buddha was not upset by these insults. Instead he asked the young man “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

The man was surprised to be asked such a strange question and answered, “It would belong to me, because I bought the gift.”

The Buddha smiled and said, “That is correct. And it is exactly the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.

“If you want to stop hurting yourself, you must get rid of your anger and become loving instead. When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.”

The young man listened closely to these wise words of the Buddha. “You are right, o Blessed One,” he said.

“Please teach me the path of love. I wish to become your follower.”

The Buddha answered kindly, “Of course. I teach anyone who truly wants to learn. Come with me.”

Angry responses to assault, be they physical or verbal, are not innate, natural, and automatic. They arise due to a lifetime of learning and conditioning. Reversing the kneejerk response mechanism is not something that comes easily, but with time and retraining, one can respond more and more like the Buddha in the story above.

The training steps themselves are not that difficult; remembering and actually practicing them in crisis situations, on the other hand, takes real presence of mind, strength, and diligence. They are essentially:

  • Reigning in the mind, not allowing it to rush off, reciting internally “My mind will be unaffected”;
  • To essentially bite one’s tongue, thinking, “I will utter no evil words”
  • And finally, to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, reflecting “I shall abide compassionate for his/her welfare, with a mind of loving kindness”
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