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I’m not an angry person, or am I?

Young man looking down angrily.
I usually revert back to my habitual responses, which are self-centered and ignorant. (Photo by soei_cs_82)

Buddhism talks a lot about the three poisons of ignorance, attachment and anger and how they stand in our way of attaining awakening. I think I have a good beginning understanding of impermanence and emptiness. But from moment to moment on a daily basis do I use those truths in my thoughts, speech and actions when I am in the heat of the battle against my afflictions in my daily existence? I am sorry to say that I usually revert back to my habitual responses, which are self-centered and ignorant.

What about attachment? I do love our comfortable lifestyle here in Spokane. And I am particularly fond of praise and having a good reputation. In fact, I have spent most of my life on the endless quest of aggrandizing my ego. Like everyone else I have attachment.

At least I am not an angry person. But wait. Do I ever get impatient when I am in the slowest line at the checkout stand? Do I ever feel irritated when my dear wife forgets to close the garage door? Does my blood pressure ever rise when someone cuts me off in traffic? Do I ever feel restless and frustrated when my well-laid plans for the day are derailed by unforeseen circumstances? I may not burst into a fit of rage. But all of these emotions are forms of anger.

So, I guess I have not escaped any of the three poisons after all. We are all a work in progress. Before meeting the Dharma I was totally clueless about my afflictions. At least now I can often recognize them and sometimes squelch them. I have to satisfy myself with baby steps, however, since the path to awakening is a long and arduous journey.

Kenneth Mondal

Ken Mondal is a retired Ophthalmologist who lives in Spokane, Washington. He received his education at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and residency training at University of California-San Francisco. He practiced in Ohio, Washington and Hawaii. Ken met the Dharma in 2011 and attends teachings and retreats on a regular basis at Sravasti Abbey. He also loves to do volunteer work in the Abbey's beautiful forest.

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