The 3 Types of Angry People – The Buddha in the Lekha Sutta

Anger Leaves Imprints on your Mind

Anger leaves its mark in the form of emotional impressions on your mind.

How much anger can affect you can be assessed by how much of an much of impression it stamps on you.

In other words, how deep and how long lasting of an emotional imprint/mark does anger make on your heart? 

Because this will affect your outlook, how effectively you interact with others with a clear head and even your decision making ability:

  • Imagine living your life and constantly making decisions whilst being under the influence of anger?  It will cloud your decision making.
  • Conversely, imagine living your life making decisions with a mind free of anger – how much clearer would your decisions be!

3 Types of Angry People

To illustrate this, the Buddha, uses 3 different analogies illustrating how deep and long lasting anger can affect a person’s mind.
So the Buddha is saying that if:
  1. Anger is like a tool (like a chisel or stick or a knife) that is used to make a mark or an imprint on something – then
  2. The effect that anger has on peoples’ minds is like making a negative emotional imprint/mark on your mind.

And these anger marks stay for varying lengths of time – depending on how deeply it affects your mind.

You can divide the 3 analogies into:
– 2 Types of People who Get Angry Easily
– 1 Type of Calm Person

The 2 Types of People who get Angry Easily

1.  People who get angry easily and stay angry – like a deeply etched scar in a rock

The slightest thing triggers their anger and they’ll hate you for life.  The impression that anger makes on these peoples’ minds is as if the anger is stamped deeply into their hearts – like a line etched deeply rock face, such that wind and rain won’t be able to wash it away.

2.  People who get angry easily – but don’t stay angry – like a line etched into the dirt on the ground

These people are hot headed too but don’t stay angry for too long – they get over it after a while.  The impression that anger makes on these peoples’ minds is as if you use a stick to etch a line into the dirt on the ground – sooner or later – the wind and rain are going to wash those angry imprints away.  The anger won’t have much long lasting effect.

The 1 Type of Calm Person

3.  People who are calm, even in the face of anger – like a line etched into water

The impression that anger makes on these peoples’ minds is as if you try to etch a line in water – it won’t have any effect.  With these people – even if you speak rough, harsh, unpleasant words to them – they can still be courteous, polite and kind in return to you.
  • If you use a knife to try and etch a line into water – it has no effect.
  • If you use a stick to try and etch a line in water – it has no effect.
  • If you try and use a brush with ink to write a line in water – the water just washes it away.

Water doesn’t just sit there, stubborn and dead like a rock – letting people carve lines into it.  It is alive and dynamic – it naturally flows with whatever comes.

 

The Key Points

So if:

  • Something makes you angry or
  • Someone directs their anger at you

How can you be like water and be unaffected by things that try to leave a mark on it?  

Rather than just be stubborn like a rock – just taking the hits that life throws at you leaving marks and scars – can you be like water and just let all those marks wash away?

  • Can you resist the urge to fight things head on like a rock?  
  • Can you just let it go and focus on what you need to do?
  • Can you just allow things to pass by you?
  • Can you side step things and flow around them?
  • Like water, can you assume any shape whatsoever that is needed to get the job done?
Source:
Etchings Analogies – The Lekha Sutta
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