“In “Engaged Buddhism”, how do you deal with anger? As an Atheist, I appreciate a lot of the Buddhist message, and have found that there is a strain of Buddhism, known as “Engaged Buddhism”, that resonates most with me. In this school of thought, there is a lot of focus on engaging politically in issue you think are important, bringing to fruit the positive qualities you’ve developed through Buddhist teachings. My doubt is that, choosing to engage politically, you’ll find injustice everywhere and anger will go with it. How do we deal with this strong, ever-present anger?”
I’ve seen many activists say these days to keep building up their anger, to not let it go, and these people should not be listened to, ever, spiritually and physically(they have studies that show people in continuous anxiety/anger states literally wear down their hearts by having what should be a temporary state be constant).
The Buddha in the earliest texts does not focus too much on what specific actions you take in life, he focuses more on HOW you should act, and that is always with mindfulness and skillfulness.
The Buddha uses a simile when dealing with mindstates like anger. It is as if a person with good eyesight were to look in a pot of water to see their reflection, but they could not because the water is boiling. Because of this the person cannot know what is good for them, good for others, or good for both.
In Buddhism we do not suppress our emotions, but nor do we let them rule our actions. The trick is to understand why they have arisen, to question whether they have arisen for a justified reason, and then if you need to act, to do so after mindful reflection and investigation, not impulsively.
The Buddha was asked in a sutta if there was anything he approved of killing. He responded ” yes, the killing of anger, with its honeyed crest and poisoned root”. The Buddha is telling us that anger may feel “right”, “justified” , “powerful”, etc, but if you act out of that anger you are acting with poison, better to act out of mindfulness and clear comprehension.