How to Solve Our Human Problems: The Four Noble Truths
by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
5.0 out of 5 stars
If you have problems with anger, this is the book for you
The book is really divided into two sections, one which illustrates the central points of Buddha’s teachings, highlighting that the source of all human suffering is really all in our minds. That it is our perspective on a person or event or thing, the ‘broken car’, the ‘enemy’ at work, that often stops us from being happy.
The second part of the book contains advice on anger, and how to cultivate patience.
The central argument he puts forward is that anger is a destructive mind, which causes pain to ourselves and to others. And that in the grip of anger, people behave in the most unskillful and even dangerous ways.
In the West we feel anger is a good thing, active, ‘getting things out in the open’ as it were, instead of ‘repressing.’ What it most often does, however, is makes the whole situation worse, because we are letting our often deluded mind, clouded by anger and disappointment, call the shots.
Think of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers-his constant anger drove people away, and only made his daily life more and more complicated! I kept thinking of the scene where he gets so angry at his car he says, “Right, I’ll show you,” and begins to beat it with a huge tree branch while he tells it all the things that he has always hated about it. It doesn’t benefit him at all-he is still stuck right where he is, beating the same thing up over and over again.
We may not use the tree branch with our loved ones, but verbal lashing out can be even more damaging-we can easily get a new car, but can we easily get a new friend, partner, child?
As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says, a patient mind is able to step back from the situation to see how best to deal with it without flying off the handle and causing one to do or say something they will definitely regret.
Arguments with loved ones, for example, are supposed to restore harmony and peace, but how often do they really? A whole chapter on reasons not to retaliate is excellent as well.
This is a very clear and concise book for people interested in learning more about Buddhism, based on Buddha’s first teaching, the 4 Noble Truth, which tell us that if we know where suffering comes from, its true causes, we can take steps to end it.
The ideas for managing anger and cultivating patience in order to keep control of even the most difficult situations is one which any reader can benefit from.
Geshe Kelsang is a Tibetan teacher of Mahayana Buddhism (Sutra and Tantra) who lives in England and has spent his career making these teachings clear and applicable to Westerners.