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Righteous anger
January 13, 2014

I came across the idea of righteous anger when I was studying and practicing Buddhism (after a fashion as I would not wish to make great claims for my practice). Anger was a particular problem for a Buddhist as anger seemed to be the most naked and disreputable manifestation of ego or self. And as the purpose of Buddhist practice was to overcome ego or attachment, as this kept you imprisoned in emotions that barred one from reaching an enlightened state of true wisdom and understanding.

Anyway that was the theory and it is a quite profound and enticing notion - as it opens the practitioner to the possibility of a meditative state where emotions have been stilled such that one can experience a connection to the unity of reality. And there are times when meditation can open you to something else, in my experience at that time.

But even then and before my exposure to Human Givens I had difficulty in being quite so dismissive of strong emotions, especially the emotion of anger. And the Buddhist answer (and indeed Christian teaching as well) was to differentiate between destructive anger (bad) and righteous anger (good) – which was non-ego based anger motivated by a moral sense. Even then, that struck me as an oxymoron, or if not that then certainly artificial and contrived.

No, rather than being suspicious of emotion, and anger especially because it can be so destructive, one has to be able to hear it and welcome it in – to offer it a cup of tea and a chat, if you like. If you do that, then all emotions and including anger can be used in support of a life that works. Then all anger becomes righteous. And if that is the case, then emotions will be more easily stilled and who knows, enlightenment might be yours.

best wishes

Andrew Richardson
94 Malford Grove, London E18 2DQ

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