Sunday, January 18, 2009

Can we forgive?

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Question: (unedited)
What does Buddhism teach about anger? What does one do about people who have wronged us?

My comment:

Thank you for asking me.

The Buddha reminded us that "anger" is one of our 3 evil roots. The 3 evil roots are "greed", "hatred", and "delusion". "Anger" is a form of hatred. "Delusion" is our ignorance to comprehend the true nature of our lives and the world. These 3 roots cause us great pain because we react to conditions in the wrong way leading us to greater miseries. Take "anger" for instance. Medical science has proven that when we get angry, our system heats up, all energy wasted to further support this heat wave when we wallow in this cycle of adding fuel to the fire. Our bodies literally burn inside us; consuming us both spiritually and physically. Knowing this fact, do we still want to hurt ourselves by this foolish behaviour? It is already bad enough that others had hurt us. Do we want to further hurt ourselves? By getting angry, we think that we are getting even with the other party. No. It is like spitting up in the air.

"What does one do about people who have wronged us?"
It is easy to advise that we radiate loving kindness to them. I find this to be too difficult for most people. Why not take the rational approach?

First we have to be sure that they are the ones who had wronged us. Many times we may be the culprits. Well, assuming they had hurt us. First, is to take whatever rational approach available, legally or diplomatically.

Now come to the spiritual aspect. You have done whatever that needs to be done...that's all. Now you get on with your life. When we start living life in this positive manner, we will have inner peace. Let nature, kamma, or whatever, takes its course. The Buddha reminded us that if we follow the Dhamma, his teachings, the Dhamma protects us. This is the type of confidence that a wise Buddhist will have. Given time, we will find that we can genuinely forgive those who had hurt us. Then we will have complete peace in ourselves.


PM said...


I would look at it in this way. Anger to save and guide someone you love to the correct path or even to save him from further wrong doings should be allowed.

Yes at that moment of anger you are burning but applied correctly as above you will find higher spiritual peace.

PM said...


On you earlier posting there were replies on terminating sufferings in this world, if I have read correctly.

Correct me if I am wrong ie to end suffering is to end the suffering of rebirth.

Barry said...

Good response, Justin.

The person asked, "What does one do about people who have wronged us?"

I'm not sure we should do anything about people who we believe have wronged us.

"Wronged us" is a concept in our own minds - "I'm hurt" or "I'm violated."

Really, we have so much work to do simply to attend to our own mind - why spend energy on others?

Justin Choo said...


Anger is a negative reaction. A "normal" person like me is subject to this reaction simply because I lack the wisdom and mindfulness not to, at the time of an incident.

Anger is not a good response even to correct a wrong. Empathy and good inter-personal skill are the better option. But then how many are that fortunate to be to acquire such skills and to apply them in time of needs? I am one of those unfrotunate people. Some are born with such positive attributes while others have the capacity to learn and apply. That's why we have leaders and followers.


On the other question of ending suffering. In worldly term, the questioner would usually mean ending of physical suffering. My answers would be in the context of the questions.

Justin Choo said...


We can't help but to be subject to the "rights" and "wrongs" which most times are justified. But to react without wisdom is the root cause of our daily agony.

Take care.

A true Malaysian said...

To forgive someone that did wrong to us need a lot of wisdom. It is not easy, but neither it is impossible.

To many people, avenge is the rightful way. But, such act will invite revenge unless the other party has the wisdom to forgive, but even then, the forgiveness may not be acceptable.

When born, human is like a piece of white paper but as one grows older, this white paper may become darker and darker, depending on one's wisdom.

Ultimately, it is us that control whether we want to keep clean this white paper. It is not easy, but at least we try our best.

Cleanliness of this white paper will determine our next life, if we have not achieve 'enlightenment' by then.

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