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A Mosaic of Traditions - One Virtual Sangha => The Metta Station => Socially Conscious => Topic started by: humanitas on November 28, 2009, 11:20:05 am

Title: The Anger Demon
Post by: humanitas on November 28, 2009, 11:20:05 am
Udana, Samyutta Nikaya 22, Sakka Samyutta:

Retold from an ancient Buddhist Story
by Nyanaponika Thera

Once there lived a demon who had a peculiar diet: he fed on the anger of others. And as his feeding ground was the human world, there was no lack of food for him. He found it quite easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national and racial hatred. Even to stir up a war was not very difficult for him. And whenever he succeeded in causing a war, he could properly gorge himself without much further effort; because once a war starts, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people. So the demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from over-eating, being content with nibbling just a small piece of resentment found close-by.

But as it often happens with successful people, he became rather overbearing and one day when feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the gods?" On reflection he chose the Heaven of the Thirty-three Deities, ruled by Sakka, Lord of Gods. He knew that only a few of these gods had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion, though they were far above petty and selfish quarrels. So by magic power he transferred himself to that heavenly realm and was lucky enough to come at a time when Sakka the Divine King was absent. There was none in the large audience hall and without much ado the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne, waiting quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a good feed. Soon some of the gods came to the hall and first they could hardly believe their own divine eyes when they saw that ugly demon sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Having recovered from their shock, they started to shout and lament: "Oh you ugly demon, how can you dare to sit on the throne of our Lord? What utter cheekiness! What a crime! you should be thrown headlong into the hell and straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Begone! Begone!"

But while the gods were growing more and more angry, the demon was quite pleased because from moment to moment he grew in size, in strength and in power. The anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze from his body as a smoky red-glowing mist. This evil aura kept the gods at a distance and their radiance was dimmed.

Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall and it grew into a dazzling light from which Sakka emerged, the King of Gods. He who had firmly entered the undeflectible Stream that leads Nibbana-wards, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke-screen created by the gods' anger parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne. "Welcome, friend! Please remain seated. I can take another chair. May I offer you the drink of hospitality? Our Amrita is not bad this year. Or do you prefer a stronger brew, the vedic Soma?"

While Sakka spoke these friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank to a diminutive size and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved.

I've always been a bit of an activist and when dealing with many issues, it's easy to get caught up in the "passion" of being right and fighting for a good cause.  Often what emerges within us from injustice is anger and we use that anger to fight our moral fights.  

This story has a been a very powerful lesson to me about how any anger continues conflict and that "nurturing our demons" actually weakens the anger.  I've been starting to use this method more and more in my daily life where I'm learning to reverse the wheel of thinking the way I'm used to and reversing the cycles that feed the anger.  This has changed a lot of how I've viewed many social issues that we perceive as "problems" and while animosity seems a natural part of "fighting for a cause" it seems to fuel more hostility in those who are not fighting often producing the counter-effect of support.  I've been learning that anger, like pushing, only causes resistance.  Interestingly, this is also the drive behind the staff of this forum. The only way to gain acceptance is to be acceptance. Peace teaches peace, and aggression teaches aggression - no matter how well intentioned it is.

Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Optimus Prime on November 28, 2009, 08:46:57 pm
Well observed.  A lot of young people have a lot of enthusiasm to fight for what's right and stuff.  But things like that should always be considered with wisdom because sometimes, fighting can have the opposite effect - instead of recruiting support, it can make people turn against you even more.

After listening to Ajahn Brahmavamso tell the anger-eating demon story multiple times, I never understood how it can be used in real life until he said, "This story is so useful in everyday life!" as he saw the principles of this story re-occurring in so many situations in his life.

Let's say someone falsely or unfairly accuses you something.  In their mind, you are guilty.  No matter what you say, you are guilty - they are vehemently holding to this firm view.

You can try to defend yourself, but what can happen is that the very words you use to defend yourself (even if they are well measured and true) will be used as fuel in an argument back against you - this is what is meant by feeding the anger of the anger-eating demon.  By defending yourself and arguing back, sometimes, you're just fanning the flames.

So sometimes, it's best to give these people no energy.  Just ignore them, just imagine they're singing a song to themselves or something and let them be.  Let them use up their own anger energy (sometimes, this can take a while!) and once used up, the anger is all gone.

How can these situations be approached wisely? 
-  If it's just between you and someone else, then one option is just to let it go.
-  If the person is important to you or it's an important issue, then AFTER they've calmed down, and anger is not possessing their mind, THEN you arouse a feeling of metta and can talk to them quietly, calm and with respect.  Offer them a bit of graciousness by allowing them to explain their situation first and try to see if you can understand it from their situation - try to relay that you see where they're coming from.  THEN you can explain it from your point of view.
-  If your reputation on the line and it affects other people, then what can be done is point to the objective evidence calmly.

If their mind is so closed-off that they are not even going to listen to objective information, it's best that it's not you who's providing the objective information (because they'll still think you're pulling a shifty on them as they're still viewing you with mistrust - they still think you're trying to weasel your way out of the situation).  So you could either ask an objective third party (or several objective third parties) that they are comfortable with (who doesn't take sides) to relay the information to them.

If they still don't accept this, then it's probably best to let it go and wish them some metta.
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Ron-the-Elder on January 05, 2010, 12:58:44 pm
The Anger Demon was actually featured on a Star Trek episode back in The Sixties. might be true! :eek:
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Yeshe on January 20, 2010, 02:03:42 pm
The Anger Demon was actually featured on a Star Trek episode back in The Sixties. might be true! :eek:

The Anger Demon was actually featured on a Star Trek episode back in The Sixties. might be true! :eek:

Nah.  if you remember the Sixties you obviously weren't there. LOL :)

Anger depends upon the other poison of Attachment.  I tested myself to see if there was any source of anger which was not doiwn to my attachments, and found that all of it boiled down to that. Maybe I missed something, but I felt that anyone truly devoted exclusively th the welfare of others could find no place in their heart for anger.

(Caveat: Anger at self-assemby furniture is a permitted exception! LOL :) )
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: dhammaseeker51 on January 20, 2010, 02:21:22 pm
Yes, I've recently remembered this tale after an argument and then promised myself that I would use the lesson the next time I got "caught up" in another argument ;D.
But mindfulness was lacking and I only remembered it afterwards again!
I will definitely definitely use it next time though ! :blush:
I think I remember the Star Trek episode !
Ah, there'll never be another Captain Kirk. ;D
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: lowonthetotem on March 08, 2010, 09:25:01 am
Dr. McKoy (a.k.a. Bones): "Damn it, Jim, I'm an afflicted being, not a Buddha"
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: humanitas on March 08, 2010, 02:24:45 pm
Dr. McKoy (a.k.a. Bones): "Damn it, Jim, I'm an afflicted being, not a Buddha"
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: catmoon on March 23, 2010, 09:04:53 am
A puzzling anomaly - sometimes anger can provide the motivation to do a good thing. This oddity was once noted by HHDL, who said this truth has to be handled verrrrrrry carefully, because anger can transform into hatred in an instant.
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Lobster on September 01, 2012, 11:37:04 pm
The only way to gain acceptance is to be acceptance

Rather than engage with trolls, agenda pushers and that pushing our inner anger . . .
we can also practice noble silence  :)
It is easy on the forum as those users providing such an anger effect on us can be ignored . . .

How easy the path can be . . . :D
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Karma Dondrup Tashi on September 04, 2012, 01:47:24 pm
Mm tasty stuff. But who indeed can follow that rabbit hole all the way down to the bottom?

That demon is Hitler, and he just killed your child. And Sakka isn't acting for the sake of the other gods - he's being genuinely compassionate. Imagine that degree of Buddhahood.


Who's ready to give away that amrita and soma?

Heavy stuff.
Title: Re: The Anger Demon
Post by: Lobster on September 04, 2012, 07:18:37 pm
Dealing with afflictive emotions (demons) is indeed advanced.
I should know, most of my relatives are boiled alive and eaten.
That is life. it contains yama.

So instead we increase in our peaceful capacities.
This is the purpose of the 8 fold path . . .

Just like the Buddha stopping the mad elephant in its tracks
we increase our field of well being.  :pray:
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