I had an experience one recent evening that gave rise to anger.
I noticed the following morning that the flammable energy had subsided, both physically and emotionally. For some reason, however, I kept coming back to it mentally. I felt a pull in my mind to keep replaying the event in spite of my sense of restored calm and peace.
I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t prefer to be angry, yet still finds a perverse sort of pleasure in it. (The Buddha himself referred to anger as having a “poisoned root and sweet sting.”) Why?
I opened the door to see what anger was bringing with it that was so enticing, and found my answer pretty quickly.
Anger, in its purest form, is a natural and healthy function that gives us the energy to change situations where something is wrong. If we’re angry at something — or someONE — then that thing (or person) must be wrong. Which can only mean one thing.
We must be right.
Anger simply cannot appear without a degree of self-righteousness (justified or otherwise). Think of some of the things people have done to feel “right.” Suddenly it’s not surprising that we so easily trade our inner peace for a tango with that sweet sting.
Anger gets a bad rap (especially in spiritual circles), but it’s like anything else; it can be used skillfully or unskillfully. Through practice, we can develop our powers of observation to discern when our anger is serving its intended purpose and when we’re merely using it to feel (or NOT feel) something else.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think they’re playing my song.