In my work with Buddhist Peace Fellowship, I help design and produce the most popular online course: U Mad? Wisdom for Rageful Times. First launched in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, the course invited seven BIPOC and queer teachers to speak candidly about practicing with anger as Buddhists. Enjoy wisdom from Lama Rod Owens, Rebecca Li, Ruth King, Dr. Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Pablo Das, Larry Yang, and Venerable Prenz Sa-Ngoun, along with my co-conspirators Kate Johnson and Katie Loncke.
Check it out and let me know what you think! I find it still deeply relevant to today’s rageful times.
Does anger have you tied up in knots? As a spiritually-minded activist, you still aren’t alone in finding anger challenging.
Anger is a very human feeling. It identifies injustice against yourself and others, offering a sharp sword of clarity. Black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde lays down how women (and we can expand this to people of all oppressed or marginalized genders) channel anger into action:
Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.
Yet anger isn’t everything. If it’s your only fuel to action, you’ll be quick to lose steam. And you’ve heard that the Buddha isn’t a cheerleader for anger. In some traditions, he even admonishes his most devoted students to train anger completely out of their hearts:
Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: ‘Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words.’ — Kakacupama Sutta
In BPF’s most popular online course, you’ll have a chance to grapple alongside others with these questions and more:
- Can I calm my anger and still fight for justice?
- How do I work alongside people bursting with rage?
- How do I work with those who shame me for being angry?
- What fuels my activism beyond anger?
- Is anger as bad as the Buddha says?
- Is anger as useful as the activists say?
- What practices can help me transform rage into wisdom?
- What practices will cultivate my capacity to work with others?
- When, if ever, can I punch Nazis?
Benefits For Your Practice and Activism
We all have habits around anger. Some of us avoid it at all costs. Others embrace righteous rage as essential self defense. Trauma and anger (its presence, or conspicuous absence) often intertwine.
When you take this 7-week online series, you’ll find:
- Wise reflections from dharma teachers who care deeply about social justice
- Techniques for working with rage, trauma, and betrayal
- Exploration guides to discover your own relationship to anger
- Tools to evaluate when rage is more skillful or less skillful for you
- Community support from like-minded wisdom seekers
- Opportunities to build your skills at allyship and solidarity
- Ability to face rage-making realities with more compassion, balance, and action
- Increased capacity to work with others toward liberation — including difficult people