Shambhala Sun | September 2014
The Angry Buddha
MELVIN MCLEOD on the Enlightened Power of No
not the love-and-light people we think they are. Of course, their enlightened mind
is grounded in nirvana—total peace—but in that open space compassion
spontaneously arises. It has many manifestations. One is anger.
Anger is the power of no. The enlightened mind of the
buddhas is enraged against the evils of samsara and the suffering it causes. It
says no to the three poisons of ignorance, attachment, and aggression that
drive cyclic existence.
This is the natural reaction we all have when we see someone
we love suffer—we want to stop it. The buddhas are angry about our suffering,
and they will happily destroy its causes. They aren’t angry at us;
they’re angry for us.
Traditionally, it is said that the buddhas’ love expresses
itself in four ways. These are called skillful means, the different ways wisdom
and compassion go into action to relieve suffering.
First, the buddhas can pacify, helping us to quench
the flames of the three poisons. This calm and pacifying buddha is the one
we’re familiar with, whose image brings a feeling of peace to millions around
But sometimes more is needed.
Melvin McLeod is the editor-in-chief of the Shambhala
Sun and editor of Mindful Politics and the Best Buddhist