Sunday, 21 September 2014


Illustration credited to Alex Hill
Friends and Readers,

This is not an exposition on the phenomena of anger, but it is my anger that I will be pouring out. As the religious have for eons written confessions, dreams, and their angers as well, it is my turn.

We Buddhists attempt to channel our anger (hopefully not just get rid of it, ultimately impossible) in the proper ways, through meditation, through action, through illumination and through community activities. These can all be either positive reactions or negatives to the anger that is boiling within us, but I am getting off topic. Let me tell you what is making my own blood boil.

I am angry that many have lost the need for depth in life. In fact, I am furious. Just today I was serving a gentleman  (I’m a waiter, which is the fate that befalls us philosophers) who looked at me after I told him I study philosophy and said,

“Why don’t you study something useful like economics?” I am still infuriated by this notion and I am now shifting by belief that I have no reason to prove to anybody why philosophy is still important, they have to show me why it's not.

I am angry that we believe we can ultimately be pleased by a surface existence. Popular culture has no evil intrinsically, but my satisfaction cannot be sustained by watching the latest TV show, no matter how good, by the most recent fashion fad (which will change in a few hours anyways).

My anathema is the continuation of staring into screens, onto pages, into each other and only seeking information. Catalogs only suffice to those who want more of the surface. The ocean is much more than just how far it stretches, but its depths make it the most mysterious of all. We are like this. You will only find some life on the surface of the ocean but to be a functional habitat for the trillions of life-forms that live there, depth is required.

Walt Whitman said there is a multiplicity within us, there are lives within us, depths to be explored, criticized, praised, changed, and kept. It infuriates me to state that our lives can be lived happily enough if we just stay on the surface. Yes, the depths are dangerous, dark, sometimes bringing from themselves nightmares and poisonous serpents but without those depths, there would be no surface for us to frolic on.

There is ferment within me. The inferno within wishes to engulf the sick belief that money automatically means anything at all besides being money. This is hardly anything new, in fact, I am beating a field of dead horses by writing any of this, but the inferno is only growing and cannot be contained. Money automatically means happiness? No. Money automatically means evil? No (despite how lovely this view looks).

Our egos have exploded and grow to disproportionate sizes—a sex tape conjures the belief that one is a celebrity who requires attention, fame, money, power. The surface, it seems, has satisfied us and has turned us into monsters. We are zeppelins that are inflated with the thin hydrogen of our most basic desires. We fly around, slowly, demanding awe from the onlookers who will only shortly burn up in the crash along with us and just another moron (pardon my French) will attempt to rebuild it, alter it just slightly, and set it up into the sky.

I am tired of dogmatism—certainty stains the eyes and the souls. I am not arguing with matter-of-facts, I am not proposing, asking, or trying to even all together persuade why all of these lead to horrendous ends, we have seen it time and time again. I am demanding that it STOPPPPPPPPP.

Has our beasthood (which is not to criticize the animal world, which is not ‘beastly’ as we like to believe, in order to inflate our own egos some more) taken over? Soon we shall be shedding our skins and underneath will not be another layer of skin, but bones and muscle. We have become this dull. We have become boring, incapable of opening our minds to foreign concepts (and the more tragic part, to “foreign people.”) We treat those who are different with disgust because they are not us.

This has gone so far that we even spread democracy with the gun. Really?????????????

What is all of this for? For life? For happiness? This provides no happiness for me, it drives me to the belief that there’s something wrong with me. How sick. Am I to believe that my belief that we have dimensions of us (and the world) that are unexplored and won’t be, that things change; there are variations and perspectives, that philosophy is dead, that the humanities are dead—no—that humanity is dead.

These are not my wishes. Humanity shouldn’t continue to decay in its iniquity, it should reach and fish within its own dangerous depths to find the pearls that only lurk at the bottom of the seas. I don’t have the answers my friends, I have my frustrations, my convictions, my love and my hope and for now, I have my life and that will suffice. But know, because I have my life, hope, convictions etc. I will not just sit idly and be satisfied with only things that I’m “supposed” to be satisfied with. I am furious that people are becoming automatons because I know for a fact they are not, but reorienting themselves to be. Let’s stand together, move together, love together and all go fishing together, within ourselves, so that we may come to the bottom and bring the pearls to the surface, which will illuminate the waves that crash along the shores of our lives.


  1. Hey Denis,

    I read your article and I understand where you come from, but the Buddhist method is not about channeling your anger, through anything at all. To me, this seems like a form of venting. Venting doesn't lessen the unwholesome quality of anger, it strengthens it. As the Buddha said...

    "When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.'"

    Anger is one of those unskillful qualities, it's one of the three unwholesome roots. The Buddha taught quite plainly that we need to understand our anger (not repress it or unleash it), where it comes from, and abandon it. We need to find it, its origin, and realize its cessation. We need to investigate its drawbacks. Clearly, getting upset over one man's words is a drawback. Needless to say, the Buddha praised endurance of harsh speech, and he taught us to develop metta towards all beings, including mean people.

    It seems to me that your anger, which was started by that man's comment, was totally unrestrained. As said, we need to understand it. It seems that your anger comes from your views on life. And what did the Buddha say about views? You can read it here:

    You said that you don't like how what the man said brought you to think that something was wrong with you. There isn't something wrong with "you", there's something wrong with your mind, and it's your attachment to your views which causes you to get angry. Views are dangerous, and you should see that danger.

    The Right View explained by the Buddha was not a dogmatic right view, but a view of things as they are. We're trying to cultivate an awareness of things as they are without our views acting as a lens, and this is done through mindfulness, and meditation.

    The four foundations of mindfulness should be your objects of meditation, that's why they're called "foundations" — they act as a foundation for the mind. The 5 hindrances are to be investigated and abandoned so you can develop this clear awareness and the concentration of meditation — one of those hindrances is anger, aka ill-will.

    I hope this guides you...

    1. Also I'd like to say that practicing this way and abandoning your views will not make you a "dull" person, it won't bring you to the surface. After all, how can you "stay at the surface" if you're set on knowing things as they are, right down to our own personal experience? How can you be a dull person if you're fully aware, compassionate, loving, and mindful? A great example of such a person is the Venerable Ajahn Chah — you can find videos of him talking on youtube, and there's a free book (possibly available on the internet) which contains recollections of him, and it's clear that he wasn't dull or anything like that. It's said that he was enlightened.

  2. Greetings!

    Thank you for keeping me on my toes! I absolutely agree that anger, in Buddhism, has no purpose. I totally agree. My anger will not lead toward a solving of the problem, only potentially a prolongation and perpetuation of the problem. You are right to say that I am venting. However, I must, and I'm aware of where my anger comes from (for the post part) but have channeled it here, on this blog in a venting way because I hope that this place will be one where this anger does not become perpetuated into more anger, but that it's transformative. Anger isn't a singular phenomena devoid of connections to happiness, bliss, illumination, love, etc etc.

    I must admit as well that the way you speak of abandoning views doesn't make much sense to me. The "Right View" in the Buddhist path is also a view, but it's illuminated. I'm not quite sure what that means entirely and its part of my Buddhist path/journey (to use a horrible cliche) to become more intimate with the meaning, living out, and continuation of the Buddhist path.

  3. I am a fan of philosopher Susan Wolf, firstly with her book "Meaning and Why It Matters." The book is a mess; it ends with essays by others evaluating what she wrote; talking her to task, sometimes.

    I wholly agree with you, Denis, that people must insert challenging, meaningful interests into their lives. Puttering around with entertainments is an empty life, wasted. I am told this is a new Golden Age of television, but I rarely watch it, not having turned it on in what might be more than a year. Just "turning my mind over" to some machine to fill it is mostly just damn scary. [Oop. But then again I am addicted to my Tenzing Norbu mystery novels.]

    I am convinced, like Wolf and you, Denis, that people cannot thrive unless they commit to interests of importance; outside of themselves; that challenge them intellectually; and help them to see the world in a way that is fuller, deeper.

  4. Dear Mr. Kurmanov !

    I think you are quite right with your thought's, but there is a thing that will probaly interest you.
    This "degeneration of society and it's values" is a "unstoppable world event".
    It was predicted a long time is a kind of spiritual/economical/social "winter" now.
    To understand this a bit better, you have to search in other religions too, and the information i told you are from Hinduism.

    Read this and you maybe a bit better understand what i am talking about:

    At the moment we ave this "Kali Yuga Age"....and it is not even the "pinnnacle" of it...
    Maybe you will ask now: "Good, and what should we do now ?!"

    Well, that's the bad news I think: Absolutely nothing !

    It is written that the only remedy is the chanting of Krishna Mantras....but i do not know if this helps.
    If not, then well.....i think all you can do is to partly "freeze" your own emotions, and try to "cover" youneself (and your loved ones) as best as you can.
    Otherwise it is simply to a "psychologically sense"..

    Well, at least that is my opinion...

    Thank you very much for your precious time !


  5. Anger hate different colors,lover smile to all colors,,,remember,the deeper you meditation,the less you will be dictated by dualistic mind

  6. I am grateful to Anonymous's 8/28 comment for sparking a re-visit to Denis's blogpost, which is, for starters, a brilliant piece of writing!

    For example, there is this patch:

    "It infuriates me to state that our lives can be lived happily enough if we just stay on the surface. Yes, the depths are dangerous, dark, sometimes bringing from themselves nightmares and poisonous serpents but without those depths, there would be no surface for us to frolic on.

    "There is ferment within me. The inferno within wishes to engulf the sick belief that money automatically means anything at all besides being money. This is hardly anything new, in fact, I am beating a field of dead horses by writing any of this, but the inferno is only growing and cannot be contained."

    I have to say that I remain with Denis on the questions explored in his post and am resistant to the sound advice coming from "8/28 Anonymous" and in ProgBud posts from Eusahn Citta Garland. Somehow I want to be a human among humans and not so much floating on a happy cloud. I want the finger from one hand to always be touching the ground and for me to be in contact with the worries of everyone. It my mind remains dualistic: So be it.