View Full Version : Anger, when is it appropriate
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12-07-2009, 02:12 PM
Anger, rage and indignation have two Japanese words that may apply.
Ikari refers to the instance of anger, a fit of anger, or a state of being angry.
Rippuku is the state of being enraged with a matter, or with a person. Perhaps rippuku is the more subjective of these two applications, and the most appropriate reference, and a more meaningful usage of the word anger.
Are there circumstances or even acceptable reasons to be angry, while being consistent with maintaining and applying Aiki principles? Are there instances where the state of anger actually benefits the person in achieving a desired goal or justifiable result? Is behavior while in the state of indignation, rage or anger ever acceptable in terms of its cause, or of its consequences? You tell me. I would love to hear your answer.
The Japanese have a saying "hara ga tatsu na". This translates to "not having your stomach stand up". By keeping composed and under control, emotions may be better channeled for more predictable or socially desirable results. Avoiding scenes, outbursts or even violent confrontations as the first reaction, is deemed honorable and worthy of a true martial artist under stress or attack.
Yet, does this mean that acting in the state of anger is never correct or appropriate? Will the cause of justice simply have to do without such a naturally human reaction or response, one that has been in constant usage throughout mankind's complex social history?
Anger IS a natural reaction for human kind, and for many animal species. It is as natural as laughter, perspiration, hot flashes and elevated blood pressure and heart rates. It is a coping mechanism for those instances of fear, stress, and the urgent need to react quickly to an imminent threat or emergency. In the event of a grave injustice, or a cause for moral outrage, individuals and citizen groups alike may well find the use of anger to be most appropriate in fully addressing the problem, and seeking a just solution.
In one sense, the role of anger may well be that of the ignition device for car engines, that starts a chain reaction of energy build up and proper usage.
It is not that it is not permissible or even necessary at times. Rather, it is truly the manner in which it is exercised, directed and utilized to respond, at a moment's notice, to danger or sudden vulnerability.
Anger, then, is most probably, a necessary component of our make up as human beings. It is a tool that we can and must learn to use judiciously, accurately, and correctly, with each instance to be judged appropriately on its merits, and on timing itself.
Aikido's Founder made it clear that his was a "true Budo", fashioned in the fine tradition of traditional Japanese martial arts over time. . Even as he preached the higher levels of Aiki consciousness and compassionate purpose, he never disavowed the necessary element of martial integrity, or of the appropriate and timely use of Aikido principles and techniques for both self defense and aggressive usage, whenever we honestly feel compelled to do so.
This is undoubtedly a subject matter that will require much additional thought, discussion, research and review, over an indefinite period of time . This is the responsibility of all those who seriously study the Aiki and the Aikido of the Founder. By no means, or stretch of anyone's imagination, is the Founder's Aikido completely defined or understood. Certainly, a mere six months, or even 6 lifetimes, will prove woefully inadequate to the task.
We can take heart, however, that what we actually can accomplish for ourselves, and with our peers, will be well worth the effort.
I can hardly wait for tomorrow's training, and those exciting discoveries!
05-23-2010, 05:01 PM
Onegaishimasu. The best anger for a human being seems to be the anger that is likened to a passing thunderstorm.
05-23-2010, 06:16 PM
This is a very interesting idea for a thread and a very thoughtful post. Thank you very much.
As aikidoka we try to remain calm and centred in the face of anything and anyone the world can throw at us (and do you remember the story in a recent thread about spitting in Bruce Lee's face to make him forget in an instant of anger all his years of training?).
I disagree with Mark in fact. I think anger should be focussed and cool and should be allied to a sense of justice. So not at all like a passing thunderstorm. But without Mark's contribution I wouldn't have seen the original post so thank you too, Mark.
It is a rather personal subject for me today. Last Thursday a teacher at my son's school became angry (gekido in Japanese - yet another word for anger) and hit him in the face with a shoe.
So as parents (after disbelief!) we became angry. But our anger will be calm and controlled and will be directed at getting justice and protecting children in the future. Not revenge.
05-24-2010, 12:49 PM
The evolutionary psychologists have quite a lot to say on the matter. Their understanding is imperfect, but bears looking at. Briefly, anything costly in terms of energy expense for an organism had better have some survival advantage, or the organism will not thrive. The adaptation does not by any means have to be optimal... only sufficient that the benefit balances or exceeds the cost.
That anger is costly is without doubt. That anger can be managed, possibly even eliminated, has been demonstrated by some sages. But I have to wonder if the energy spent in eliminating anger is not costly beyond that of anger itself.
Much of the cost of anger is associated not only with violent consequences when expressed, but the violence done when it is habitually repressed.
So it begs the question, what is the benefit to anger? I won't go into the evolutionary view here, except to say that it's worth considering the possibility that it might be something we should be grateful for.
I think the aiki path would be to welcome anger (our own and that of others) and embrace it as a tremendous gift of energy. The ability to direct it toward wise outcomes would be the best boost possible for our innate mechanisms. (Something for me to work on, for sure!)
I don't think it's a question of whether anger is good or bad. It's simply one of a number of chemical responses to environmental triggers. The useful questions go to exploring appropriate and constructive expressions of anger, and mindful reflection on whether our anger approximates an accurate reflection of the reality of the situation. To me, this would make an eminently worthy sub-discipline within aikido.
FWIW, O Sensei is reported to have had quite a temper. For that matter, there are many tales of prophets and saviors and enlightened masters who demonstrated righteous wrath upon occasion. Whether these stories simply reflect a human failing, or illustrate the wise use of anger, is open for debate.
Personally, I tilt toward Oscar Wilde, who said "Nothing human is foreign to me."
Great subject. Thanks!
05-26-2010, 09:32 AM
Thank you for your thoughtful and clearly written insights as to the psychological aspects, and possible social benefits of anger. I feel that I can recognize and accept much of what you appear to be alluding to, and would like to respond accordingly.
Yes, it is quite feasible to think of anger as a welcome resource, akin to the role of adrenaline in providing assistance in time of stress, urgent need or the desire to rectify a seemingly unjust or onerous situation. Yet, being mainly subjective in nature, scope and definition, expressions of anger still require the calming benefit and the balancing influence of rational thought and illuminating logic to be considered a benefit at all.
Otherwise, the end will always justify the means.
I also cannot agree that "the aiki path would be to welcome anger and embrace is as a tremendous gift of energy". Would we consider the work of brave firefighters "a tremendous gift", if their efforts were found to essentially quell suspected arson, or a raging forest fire that could and should have been avoided? Would it be considered a universally welcome and socially acclaimed benefit to have peace officers do their duty in addressing child or spousal abuse?
I do agree that anger can and should be properly used to address a wrong and make it right. Nonetheless, most of the instances of anger are inappropriate, and do far more harm than good. It seems to me that the "aiki path" would be to appreciate and identify the root causes of anger, and develop sensitivities and responses that effectively deal with such conditions, preferably long before they erupt into the consuming fires of anger and rage.
The notions of "good" and "bad" are decidedly human attempts to color consequences we either favor or decry. Nature itself has no such rating system inherent in its design, accepting, as it were, the natural flow of results from natural causes, i.e. gravity, and pyroclastic flows.
Thanks again for your interesting and informative thoughts, I look forward to more discussions with you on matters Aiki related.
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