Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
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493 of 542 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2003
This is not a well designed book addressing Anger. Rather, this is a rehash of Thich Nhat Hanh's message concerning mindful living. Hanh's message is powerful and valuable; it is not well crafted to be responsive to those seeking to resolve Anger. Like the evangelicals of the 70s who gave the answer to all of life's problems, "trust Jesus," Hanh gives a similar superficial answer to the problem of Anger, "trust mindful living." If you have not read Hanh, I highly recommend it. But if you need to deal with Anger, this really wont help. His first solution to anger is to eat only organic food, where anger is not a part of the creation of the food. As a vegetarian, I have a lot of sympathy for that message; I just do not think it is an appropriate first message for someone struggling with Anger. Then he suggests making a peace treaty with the one with whom you have anger. Well that belies the circumstances where anger is a real struggle. There are some circumstances where anger is an issue and "peace treaties" are not possible - such as dealing with people with emotional disabilities. And then there are abuse situations where you should not make a peace treaty: just because I acknowledge that a Tiger is a tiger, and do not hate the tiger, does not mean I try to make personal friends with the tiger. Their are certain contexts, that cause a lot of anger, where reconciliation with the cause of conflict is not the appropriate answer. Bottom line: I found the book superficial suggesting that all of lifes ills can be cured through simple answers. Read Hanh; skip this book.
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2001
How timely - a book on Anger that arrives just after the tragedy of Sept. 11. Timely, yet timeless. To me, this book titled "Anger" is really a book about love in every possible meaning of the word. What are the things that usually make us angry, but those things that make us feel unloved - those things that make us, or those people or beliefs that we cherish, feel dishonored, disrespected, excluded and ignored. This books shows how to get into the heart of those feelings and into the heart and soul of those who treat us this way. But most important of all is the simplicity of the language and honesty of the message. I have read a lot of deeply spiritual books by many authors of many different religions and belief systems - but none are as PRACTCAL and REAL as this. This is written by a person who clearly has shared these very human feelings that we all have and yet he is a monk. How often have we NEEDED to have our spirtual teachers be perfect and yet find that perfection impossible to reach ourselves. Yet here is a monk who has clearly felt these same feelings as we have - looked deeply into them and learned how to transform them into love. These simple methods he shares in this book. There is NO judgement, NO criticism, NO shame only pure heartfelt and deep understanding of the human condition by a human being who is sharing very real ways for all of us to HEAL.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2002
I picked up this book knowing of Thich Nhat Hanh and thinking it might be interesting to see what he had to say. As a psychotherapist I found his insight into the condition of emotional blindness stunning. I have to say that I seldom feel enthusiastic enough about a book to recomend it particularly highly and I have never written a review for Amazon before, this is a first for me. I write it out of deeply felt gratitude to TNH. This book contains insights into how Anger and ohter emotions take hold of us and how we can change the state we are in for the better. Notice I say change the state for we cannot 'get rid of' only transform what we have. TNH explains this with great clarity, sincerity, simplicity and compassion. He is convincing and compelling, interesting and enjoyable to read.
his meditative suggestions are also simple and expound the idea of meditation in a unique way. this way is surely 'the way' and is explained so that meditation will never, at least for me be the same again.
if you suffer anger or other emotional woes read this book. I feel certain that it will give you a tremedous and new perspective into your suffering and how best to deal with it.
TNH uses analogies that make it so simple you almost kick yourself for not understanding before. He shows us that you don't need endless psychology degrees or the patience of a saint to have cope with emotions. He explains why compassion heels us as well as others.
If you read only one book on zen Buddhism read this one...
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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2001
As a counsellor I have seen first hand how people react when tragedy and loss invade our lives. First we weep, we grieve and then that grief often gives way to anger. It is okay to feel all those emotions; it is part of human nature. What is important is that we deal with our emotions in a positive, constructive manner. Violence leads to more violence, hated breeds more hate, revenge does not bring us true happiness.
Thich Nhat Hanh has been a Buddhist monk since the age of sixteen and has written hundreds of books aimed at helping us deal with the trials and tribulations of day-to-day living. This particular book focuses on anger and quelling the raging fires within. No doubt, there are many fires burning within many citizens around the world as a result of the horrendous terrorist acts in America. Reading this particular book will not resolve the world's problems; it does, however, have the potential to help the reader deal with anger. Anger can be one of the most powerful, all-consuming, self-destructive emotions known to mankind if not dealt with in a constructive manner. It has destroyed relationships and divided countries. Left untethered, it eats away little by little at the soul and very core of our being.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a learned, compassionate man who has the ability to make people see the positive light in virtually every situation. This book is no exception. He reminds us that anger begins and ends with ourselves. Nhat Hanh has the ability to take a complex situation, wrap it up with a bow and deliver it to us as a saving grace. His words of wisdom will help soothe the ravaged soul. Also recommended reading by this author are "Peace is Every Step", "The Heart of Buddha" and "Teachings on Love"; all are five-star books, highly recommended and well worth reading.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2003
When I bought this book, I was looking for wisdom for keeping me from anger and irritability in my important relationships. I chose this book over all of the other self-help and anger-management books out there because of the author, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose other books I have read and really enjoyed. I was looking for something that would help me learn not to get angry at people close to me, but what I found in this book was that you cannot stop anger itself, but you can only stop it from ruining your relationships. You can't tell your anger to go away, just the same as if you have a stomach ache you can't tell your stomach to go away. You can only do things to make it better. And this book helps you realize what those things are.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2011
I have had anger management issues for many years. For most of my life I was not even aware a problem existed, nor did I recognize the triggers that would enflame the embers of my anger and turn it into a bonfire of rage. It was not until my wife pointed out the problem that I recognized it for what it is. Finally acknowledging the problem was the first step to making a change. But merely wanting the change was not enough. I was unable to overcome or deal with the anger once it was roused.

One day at a local bookstore, my wife pointed out Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames". Out of curiosity, I decided to purchase the book. I decided that if I could learn just one thing from it that would help with my anger it would be worth the purchase. I was not prepared for what I would find. The author very carefully lays out an approach for dealing with anger. He does not espouse the view of venting anger, he explains that venting is not a release of anger but a rehearsal of anger and aggression. Rather, he presents a way to acknowledge the anger, soothe it and transform it.

After finishing the book, I put into practice the approach he lays out. It has made an enormous difference. I have learned how to douse the destructive fire of my anger with the cooling water of mindfulness. I have learned how to focus my attention on dealing with anger when it arises, calming it and returning quickly to a place of happiness and peace. I was once known as an angry man. Thanks to this book, I feel that is no longer the case. My ever present anger and barely contained rage have been replaced with joy, peace and serenity. In some ways, I feel that this book saved me from myself. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who has anger management problems.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2002
The author does a good job of reviewing the topic of anger, but the steps proposed in cooling anger are much easier said than done. I found the suggested work difficult to apply to daily life. However, the contents of this book challenge the reader to think in different ways. I also highly recommend a collection of Buddhist wisdom by Taro Gold called 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life' which has greatly helped me cool my anger and discipline my mind.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2006
Probably the most destructive emotion to people is anger. Its insidious effects can not only destroy previously important relationships but it can literally kill a person via stroke or whatever. So many times we realize intellectually the harmful effects of anger but are unable to prevent ourselves from lashing out. Thich Nhat Hanh's advice is to practice mindful living. This means in our day-to-day actions like washing dishes, gardening, etc. we are completely in the moment. In other words, we aren't concerned about our bills, problems, fears, worries and so forth. What we are concerned about is being aware and present for the current moment so we don't miss it. Being in the moment like this allows us to be fully present for whatever may be happening. Being in the present moment when anger arises is comparable to a mother taking care of her baby. If the baby is agitated the mother doesn't tell the baby to get lost. The mother cuddles and consoles the baby till she calms down. This is the way we should handle our anger according to Thich Nhat Hanh.

If the reader is at all familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings this book will come as no surprise. Routinely he admonishes people to be mindful, compassionate, and insightful. I found this to be a little of a disappointment in this book. Many analogies were used repeatedly throughout the chapters. An example would be when Nhat Hanh talks about practicing mindful breathing for 15 mins or so to let the anger cool off. His analogy was that while cooking potatoes we have to wait 15 mins or so for them to finish even though they are immersed in hot water. This is the same with our anger. Being aware of it is not enough. We must be aware of it and then allow mindful breathing or walking time enough to work. I don't argue with his wisdom but I didn't feel like I needed to read it over and over for the message to sink in either.

In the rest of the book Thay gives advice for reconciliation. He urges us to realize that within all of us we contain our mother and father. When you were a baby your Mother thought of you as part of herself. Therefore, she took care to not smoke and drink but to treat you with mindfulness. It is only by your mother and father that you exist. You cannot escape the fact that they are contained in you like rain is contained in a cloud and so forth. By understanding interdependence in this way we realize that when we cause others to suffer we suffer and vice versa. Only by this understanding can real compassion develop. When real compassion develops we can do things to reconcile with our loved ones. We can write true "love letters" with a calm state of mind that tell the other person how much we care about them. This can start the healing process to even the most damaged relationships.

Thich Nhat Hanh also offers sound advice that seems regular common sense but that has an uncanny ability to work. For instance, he urges us in conflicts with loved ones to perhaps set a meeting for Friday evening. At this meeting we can let the other person know our perceptions and what has caused us to feel so angry. By talking with a sound state of mind we may find out that our perceptions were wrong and this can also help alleviate our suffering.

One thing Thay advises against is the idea of venting. We've often heard that if we are angry we should do things like punch a pillow. According to Thay this is just rehearsing our anger and I tend to agree with him. If you act in this manner you aren't letting the anger rise and then letting it go. You are merely allowing the seed of it to become more powerful and then to really let it explode at a later time.

It's important to realize that everyone can benefit from constructive ways to handle anger. Therefore, despite some flaws in this book I'd still recommend it to almost everyone.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2002
I can't quite find the words to describe the purity, love and sheer compassion with which this book was written. Thich Nhat Hanh once again delivers simple, yet hauntingly beautiful words that reach into your heart and provide comfort and wisdom.
Within the first 10 pages, I found myself crying tears of relief - finally, I was able to understand how my anger is created, why I feel that way, and how I can work towards embracing anger so that it does not remain a destructive force.
Using simple, accessible language, we're taught how to understand different types of anger, what causes our anger, and how we can both embrace and release our anger, thereby encouraging peace and happiness. It's one book I wish I could buy for every person I know. I keep going back to re-read certain passages, and every time I read, I gain a new insight, a new understanding. Particularly, the "peace treaty" was a beautiful idea, and one which I did find extremely helpful.
Included are meditations and practical methods one can use in times of stress and angst. The book does include some Buddhism-specific ideas and lessons, but that should not disuade the non Buddhist from reading. We can ALL learn from this wonderful wisdom.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 29, 2003
Let me being by saying that I do not normally read "self-help" books, nor am I a fan of them. With that said, I was absolutely floored by _Anger_. I have never had a book "speak" to me the way Thich Nhat Hanh's wonderful (and readable) book does.
The book is neither preachy nor self-depreciating. Rather, in an almost conversational tone, Hanh discusses the nature of anger and how it effects us and those around us. Hanh then goes on with gentle advice on how to address anger - between spouses, family members, even nations.
Naturally the book is couched in Buddhist terms, but this does not detract from the central message of the author or limit the effectiveness of its message. In fact, one could insert what ever spiritual tradition you choose in place of "the Buddha" (or remove it entirely if you wish) and still get the benefits of the practice Hanh is encouraging.
I highly recommend the book. It is easy to read, practical, and very down to earth, with solid, user-friendly advice for everyone touched by anger (as a recipient of anger as well as one who feels angry.) A great read.
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