Book Review. Be Angry. 2021

Patricia Sánchez Pérez

The normal thing is that you get indignant

My comment on this treatise Be Angry has to begin by quoting its first sentence. From his most critical aspect towards spirituality, the Dalai Lama states that “In the real world there is exploitation, there is a deep and unjust gulf between rich and poor. The question is, how should we deal with inequality and social injustice from the Buddhist perspective? Is it against Buddhism to feel anger and indignation in the midst of such situations? ” 

With these questions begins the conversation between the Dalai Lama and Noriyuki Ueda writer, lecturer and cultural anthropologist. Visiting professor at the Stanford University Center for Buddhist Studies and his conversations with the Dalai Lama have resulted in several works such as this and Be Angry.   

Anger and the Dalai Lama

This treatise is a short work but with which the Dalai Lama and Noriyuki Ueda cut to the chase and explore how anger is inherent in the human condition. How despite having dedicated his life to teaching the cultivation of love and compassion “in general, that a human being never shows anger leads me to think that something is happening. He must have some mental problem ”. 

It may seem like a contradiction to put “anger” and “dalai lama” in the same phrase, but after reading this work we realize that by experiencing someone else’s pain and feeling anger in an unfair situation, we can transform those feelings into compassionate action, in compassionate anger. 

The Buddhist approach

In one of his chapters, from his simplicity and audacity, the Dalai Lama explains to us how Buddhist teachings take human suffering as a starting point but how monks limit themselves to giving pre-prepared sermons without paying attention to the current sufferings of the people. “They may talk about Buddhism, but their way of  to do so is not Buddhist, his approach is far from the original desire to save everyone from suffering.  Be Angry.

Indignation as an engine of change

In the power of outrage, the Dalai Lama shares his experience as a refugee. An overwhelming journey across the Himalayas walking weeks from China to Dharamsala in which many people are tortured and killed. Many of those who survive that journey lose toes and fingers to frostbite. 

This story has taken me back to 2014 when I visited Dharamsala to study yoga and where I met several people with no fingers on their hands. One of these people gave me several cooking lessons in his very humble home. For me these lessons were not just learning “exotic” dishes, it was when I really understood through this person’s experience the sadness, suffering, all the nonsense and cruelty that refugees face. 

Those cooking lessons and the present moment are connected. Those emotions cannot be turned off and on like the light switch. I still feel the same indignation but I try to use it so that everyone can be free. 

A new spirituality

This interview with the Dalai Lama is a deep reflection aimed at readers who want to deepen the urgency of a new spirituality in which outrage can be used as a motor to advance social dialogue, ethics, justice and equality. 

The voice that narrates the play is the same and ends by saying “I can feel anger. 

But this anger is compassionate. The experience of grief and pain leads to enlightenment and a deep desire for salvation. And a great longing for freedom emerges. Go from pain to unlimited freedom, that is Buddhism. That is the path that the Buddha himself took ”. 

If you want to buy the book Be Angry you can do it from the following link and I will get a small commission.

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Patricia Sánchez
Articles: 48

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