Irritation Leads To Anger

This article continues our #Bodhicaryavatara series on Shantideva’s ‘A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ translated by Stephen Batchelor (ISBN: 8185102597). This text is frequently quoted by HH Dalai Lama as a source to develop universal compassion and loving kindness for both ourselves and all others.

Chapter VI Patience – 6-9

Where does anger begin? HH Dalai Lama says that it is not difficult to see that anger begins with irritation. It could start out as a small, niggling issue like a stone in your shoe. But over time the irritation might grow.

In verse 7 Shantideva describes this source of this irritation:

In the prevention of what I wish for,
And in doing what I do not want.

Irritations are often trivial things, such as:

  • Somebody getting in your way, such as when you are running late
  • Saying something you strongly dislike, such as poking fun at your diet.

The cause of the irritations is all on your side:

  • Other people have just as much right to be here as you, even if you are late.
  • It’s just a diet, why take the comments so personally? Maybe that vegan diet does have drawbacks (see articles on being vegan and vegetarian).

Our likes and dislikes can be so fickle. Are they really dedicating your thoughts to? Are they really worth disturbing our inner peace and happiness to defend? Through practice we can gain familiarity with our own likes and dislikes, and weigh their importance.

Our likes and dislikes are our own views and perspectives that we project onto the world. We can choose whether they are really important enough to sacrifice our inner peace and happiness. To be honest, we think that very few likes and dislikes will be worthy of this sacrifice.

In verse 9 Shantideva concludes that the frustration is simply not worth it:

Whatever befalls me,
I shall not disturb my mental joy;

Love, @happyops