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Freedom from Anger: Understanding It,…

Freedom from Anger: Understanding It, Overcoming It, and Finding Joy

by Alubomulle Sumanasara

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I like to consider myself a very happy person in general but I, as well as most of us, can admit that many things in life set me off and make me angry. I don’t like being angry and honestly try to keep my emotions in control as best as I can, but when I can’t, I feel a loss of control and a sense of unraveling that bothers me greatly. It’s this loss of control that has brought me to the realization that I need to find ways to keep my anger in check, to not let the little things in life bother me so much. I was hoping that by reading Freedom From Anger I might gain some useful tools and strategies in dealing with my anger and the things that set it off.
The author, Alubomulle Sumanasara is a Buddhist monk who’s been schooled in the Theravada tradition and has written many books regarding the practical application of Buddhist thought and practice. There were some things I really liked about this book; he writes in short chapters offering his wisdom and insight in a very light and sometimes humorous fashion which makes it a fast, easy. I also liked his section titled “Different Forms of Anger” in which he gives clear cut descriptions of the different types of anger and where they stem from. I was able to easily identify which category I fall under and his examples of things that set off this type of anger was pretty accurate. Throughout the book I was able to gain some valuable insight into what long-term anger and resentment does to a person and then different ways to cope with letting that go. What I did not learn though was how to deal with and interpret the initial anger itself. His philosophy is one in which he states “Simply do not become angry”, he goes even farther by saying “The feelings of being insulted, abused, beaten, or stolen from are all nonsense”. At this point I came to a screeching halt and thought to myself, he cannot seriously being saying this! How can he possibly mean that these feelings are nonsense? Does he expect us to walk around in today’s world and let ourselves be abused and taken advantage of by others and then simply decide not to be angry because it’s all nonsense? The more I read, the more I realized that yes; this is in fact what he expects us to do. I was really disappointed by this; I don’t want someone telling me I shouldn’t be angry, that it makes me weak and ignorant. I wanted to find ways in order to process that anger and let it go.
The more I continued reading the more I realized why his beliefs and practices won’t work. He applies all his reasoning to his Buddhist teachings, giving examples of how they deal with aggressors within their community and how they strive to live each day full of joy and actively choosing to be free from anger. His chapter on “Responding to Angry People” was truly mind boggling. The Buddhist way is to ignore the offender completely thus causing total social isolation. This becomes so unbearable for the aggressor that they eventually see the error of their way and make an apology. Sumanasara is asking us to adopt this philosophy in our everyday life but that just isn’t’ realistic. His ideas would only work in a society in which everyone was adhering to this same policy. What if I was walking down the street late at night and someone came up behind me with the intent to cause me serious harm. Am I supposed to ignore them and they will eventually stop and ask for forgiveness? No, of course not! We, as women, have been taught to fight, kick, scream and yes; become extremely angry in a situation like this.

In my opinion, anger is absolutely ok in our lives, without it you’re just a doormat. It’s about finding that balance of not letting the anger eat at you, about being able to forgive and not hold a grudge because if you do your life becomes consumed and therefore there’s no room for happiness. This is where Sumanasara and I do agree. I think there are some pretty powerful points in this book but I also think it will be up to each individual reader to determine how much of what he is saying applies to how they live their lives and what they believe about our basic human nature.

**I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book from the publisher, Wisdom Publications and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**
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  jenladuca | May 22, 2015 |
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