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simonec

simonec

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Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames - Thích Nhất Hạnh I started reading this book without knowing what to expect, hoping to get some useful advice and inspirational ideas. Instead, the book quickly started to annoy me, having to much of the following:

1) preachy and patronizing sentences, such as: we must recognize... we need to... it is important to... that is the real truth ... that is sheer ignorance...

2) many clichés,
People actually need only half of the food that they daily eat.
To eat properly, you should chew food at least 50 times before ingesting it.

Seriously? why not 48 or 52. That's the kind of junk information usually found in random websites or in cheesy TV shows. I expected something better from one of the wisest men in the world.

3) unclear and unexplained concepts, such as
Non-self is not an abstract philosophy. Non-self is a reality that you can touch by living mindfully.

Also, obscure concepts are explained with even more obscure examples, like when we are informed that body and mind are not separate entities, just like a photon, that it is both particle and wave (as everyone knows from everyday experience).

4) trite and commonplace ideas shown as something extraordinary.

5) silly and childish examples
When you cook potatoes, you need to keep the fire going for at least fifteen or twenty minutes. You cannot eat raw potatoes. While cooking your potatoes, you have to cover the pot in order to prevent heat from escaping. When you remove the lid of the pot, the potatoes will smell wonderful.


6) sentences and ideas repeated over and over

7) weird theories, without any demonstration; they must be true because the author says so.

Nowadays, chickens are raised in large-scale modern farms where they cannot walk, run, or seek food in the soil. [...] There is a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, and much suffering in the chickens.
[...] So when you eat the flesh or egg of such a chicken, you are eating anger and frustration. So be aware. Be careful what you eat. If you eat anger, you will become and express anger. If you eat despair, you will express despair. If you eat frustration, you will express frustration. We have to eat happy eggs from happy chickens.

I feel a bit angry today. I guess my breakfast contained eggs from angry chicken.

But the main problem with this book is, in my opinion, that to be able to practice any of the improvement ideas mentioned in it, the reader first needs to learn and practice some techniques called Conscious Breathing, Walking Meditation, Mindfulness, Deep Listening, and so on. Therefore, reading the book is basically useless for anyone unfamiliar with such techniques.
The author explains that when angry we should avoid saying or doing anything, to not make things worse. That seems reasonable, even a bit obvious, yet not very useful, because reading about how to control anger is not enough to control it. Apparently, to control anger, we first need to practice Conscious Breathing and Walking Meditation and so on; too bad we can't learn such things from reading this book, or any book. Then, again, what's the point of reading this book.