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Lions Roar : March 2017
According to Buddhism, aggression is one of the “three poisons” that drive our suffering (see page 32 for more on the three poisons). Even a brief moment of reflection on our own lives, our society, and human history will confirm that aggression is the greatest cause of destruction and suffering. As with the other two poisons—ignorance and passion—what defines aggression is ego. Aggression is the energy of anger in the service of all we define as “self,” ready to attack anyone and anything we deem a threat. But when anger is released from its service to ego, it ceases to be aggression and simply becomes energy. The pure energy of anger has wisdom and power. It can even be enlightened. I S ANGER an empowering and appropriate response to suffering and injustice, or does it only cause more conflict? Is it skillful or unskillful? Does it help or hurt? With so many bad things happening in the world these days, there’s a lot of debate about the proper role of anger. The answer may lie in the funda- mental distinction Buddhism makes between anger and aggression. THE WISDOM OF ANGER If you know how to use it, says MELVIN MCLEOD, the energy of anger becomes fierce and compassionate wisdom. Because even the buddhas get angry about suffering and injustice. ACHALAVIDYARAJA(FUDOMYOO).JAPAN1000-1100.ASIANARTMUSEUMOFSANFRANCISCO,THEAVERYBRUNDAGECOLLECTIONB60S146+.PHOTOGRAPH©ASIANARTMUSEUMOFSF When it’s appropriate, enlightened beings use anger to protect beings from suffering. We can use the wisdom of anger in the same way. Left: The protector Fudo (12th- century Japan). LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2017 67