Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk, teacher and author. The following is an excerpt from his book, “Peace Is Every Step”.
The Roots of Anger
“Anger is rooted in our lack of understanding of ourselves and of the causes, deep-seated as well as immediate, that brought about this unpleasant state of affairs. Anger is also rooted in desire, pride, agitation, and suspicion. The primary roots of anger are within ourselves. Our environment and other people are only secondary….But what is most important is that we first take care of the seeds of negativity in ourselves.”
When I first read this section of the book, I was unsure what I thought of it. It seemed like a bizarre idea, this thought that anger’s roots may be within ourselves. But the more I thought about it, the more I began to like and really believe that such is true.
I brought up the idea to Sarah while we were paddling down a particularly curvy section of the Kazan River. We talked about different forms of anger and determined how and where each issue could form within. It really was rather interesting to realize that this idea of anger coming from within was quite possibly true. However, we decided that there can be exceptions to this. Such as being angry with a person for physically harming someone else for no particular reason can be justified.
Sometimes when I’m angry I stop and try to pick apart my reasons for feeling that way. I search for something within myself, a personal source of the anger. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, I almost always do find a root for the anger. A root that is NOT the other person’s fault, but rather my own. Maybe it’s jealousy, a flaw of mine, a grudge I’m holding, something that’s happened in my past. But almost always, I find that it is true that anger comes from within.
I am still, and probably always will be, working on taking care of my personal seeds of negativity. Just being conscious that the seeds exist helps. (Oct. 29, 2010)