Now, there is a type of anger which, if properly directed, can be good. We ought rightfully be angry about such things as climate change, world poverty, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, and many, many other things. However, we must never allow our anger to contaminate our lives or those of others. Additionally, reason must always prevail over our emotions.
These images of ourselves and others are false and illusory, not because they do not exist, but rather because they are not the real person that we and the other person are. Additionally, these self-images have no separate, independent or non-transient existence from the person in question. In truth, they are inconstant, identity-less and conditioned.) To use a Buddhist term, these self-images are ‘empty,’ which means they have no independent existence. Of course, the images are false in another sense as well, for no single image of a person can ever be true as respects the totality of that person as a mind-body complex. It may be true as respects perhaps some of the temporal behaviour or conduct of the person in question but in truth it can never be true of the person as a whole who, unlike the image, has a real, ontological identity. Enough said (hopefully).
Now, how can mindfulness help us to manage and even overcome such negative states of mind? Well, mindfulness is sustained self-observation, and with the latter comes self-insight. Over time, we come to see our negative self-images as false and illusory.
As you continue to observe you will in time come to see the cause of your anger. Observe, ‘There is the cause of my anger.’ Now, continue to observe as dispassionately as possible. In time, your anger will dissipate---for all things are impermanent---and you will then be able to say, ‘This is the stopping of anger.’ Not only that, but in time, if you are painstaking about your observation and choiceless awareness you will come to see how your anger came to an end. (The anger ended because you choicelessly and nonjudgmentally observed it with detachment.) Now you can say, ‘This is the way leading to the stopping of anger.’ And what has there been in all this? I will tell you. Simply observation and experience in and of itself---that is, with no subject or object superimposed upon it.
I love these words from the influential Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah [pictured left]:
'Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.'
Got that? 'Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering.' The solution to your problem is always to be found on the same level, indeed at the very same 'spot,' as the problem itself.