A Zen Approach to Managing Anger


Zen Monk — Dharma Teacher at Providence Zen

Anger: A Form of Wisdom



Anger has a lot to teach us, if we listen to it!

We operate under a common illusion that the things that make us angry lie outside of ourselves, that they are external to us. Something out there is in opposition to our need for safety and security; it threatens our comfort or position. We feel a need to defend our vulnerable selves. Anger limits us. But if we have the courage to look at our anger and its causes and to learn from it, we can develop an open heart—a heart of genuine compassion.

Buddhism works to illuminate the fundamental truth of our self-nature. When anger arises, it is pointing to something. Our anger is a sign of our underlying beliefs about ourselves. It can help to reveal our constructed sense of self-identity.

Anger points to fear, and the emotion of fear is an illusion.

On the other hand, the feeling of fear which requires no thinking to arise comes from real danger, associated with external events that might threaten to hurt us physically.

Part of this statement was written by Jules Shuzen Harris.

This conversation is with Kwan Haeng Sunim about the wisdom that can be found in Anger.


“I met our Kwan Um School of Zen's Patriarch, Zen Master Seung Sahn in 1986 at the Cambridge Zen Center.  I moved to Providence Zen Center in 1987 and work there as House Master. 1997 I went to Korea sat a 90 day retreat afterwards I requested entrance into the Hangja program. A program in which I worked for one year at Hwa Gae Sa temple. And ordained a novice monk upon completion of a three-week intensive course at the end of the one-year HangJa training.  In 2003 I received Bhikkhu precepts.   I stayed in Korea until 2012 holding various temple positions and sitting a 90-day retreat twice a year.  One in the winter and one in the summer.   In 2012 I moved into PZC and become the Head Dharma Teacher.  I have been sitting the winter and summer retreats here also as Head Dharma Teacher and leading a Sunday Dharma Practice program.” 

To learn more about Kwan Haeng Sunim please visit

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