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It comes from our mind

It comes from our mind

Silhouette of man with highlight behind his head.

Anger is the result of our own way of thinking about a situation. (Photo by Hartwig HKD)

I know that you have covered extensively the subject of anger in many of your talks and also in books. I’d like to share a reflection with you of a little situation I was in today that played out exactly as you taught: that anger is the result of our own way of thinking about a situation and our mind’s weakness in its capacity to resist being overcome by anger. Anger is not the responsibility of anything external, as we often blame it to be.

I had just finished dinner this evening and had returned to my room to resume watching some Dharma talks on YouTube on my mobile phone. Earlier, a relative had borrowed my room to have a change of clothes and had helped me turn off the fan I had left on. When I had returned and turned my fan on again, I turned my attention to my mobile Dharma talk video, and saw that the annoying “battery low” thing was up. Anger and irritation sprung up instantly, and complained to my mind, “You clearly left the switch on in order to charge your phone battery while you were having dinner so that it’d be charged enough for you to watch the Dharma talk! How dare the other person turn off that switch? Now the battery’s low and you can’t watch it. Why do their hands itch so much that they have to meddle with your affairs and belongings? This is YOUR phone and they’re being meddlesome and not respecting YOU!” Anger was exclaiming all that to me while arising within my mind.

And then I noticed the loose charger wire I hadn’t properly attached to my phone. I then realized that I was getting angry at a situation that did not even take place! I finally experienced directly what I have been hearing from your anger teachings: that we, through our own distorted minds, are solely responsible for our own responses. No one other than ourselves has the power to influence our own practice.

So, being angry at something that didn’t exist made me feel silly, yet inspired in that it provided direct proof to support the teaching I have heard. I realized that this not only works with anger, but also with all states of mind. This experience is going to help a lot in changing my future responding to and perception of things.

Venerable Thubten Chodron comments on this reflection on the Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner.

Guest Author: Nigel Chan

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