a 12-step buddhist talks about anger and george bush

a guest post by the 12-step buddhist:

how do you feel now that barack is official? i’m still in shock. waiting for a big news release about some kick ass exec orders reversing idiocracy. one of the big questions for me is how to practice buddhism and the principles of 12-step recovery around politics. on one hand, i care very deeply about the state of the nation. but not just the nation, or certain people in the nation who i like.

in the 12-step world, we are to be of service to everyone. in buddhism, we’re interested in the total liberation of all sentient beings from every form of suffering–forever. so how do we deal with our strong feelings about, say george bush for example? do we have the right to have anger towards him? certainly, from a non-buddhist perspective, we should be angry. but in the 12-step world, we know that anger is the dubious luxury of normal people. in buddhism, we strive to have compassion for everyone, even, especially, the ones who make us angry.

for one thing, karma says we cause our own suffering. anger is suffering. holding on to anger is holding on to suffering. venting our anger is causing more suffering. understanding equanimity is also a buddhist tool that we can apply. george bush and barack obama have the exact same buddha nature. how could they be different? we can also practice compassion. how does it feel, deep inside, to be george bush today? can we imagine that he, like us and all beings, wants not to suffer and wants only happiness.

your comments are welcome. let’s see how people really feel about this topic. be honest. let it out. i’ll respond to the comments in a few days.

darren littlejohn blogs here and is the author of the 12-step buddhist.


  1. what a nice post? I wanted to express my understanding of the 12-steps in a language that could be understood by others who may be interested or engaged in a spiritual path that does not require a belief in God.

  2. I find the Buddhist hostility to anger quite puzzling. Getting angry means something important is going on. It can be an important source of insight into ourselves and the world around us – if we are willing to listen.

    It is possible to move through and beyond anger but it can be very valuable energy for initiation. I think there are two confusions, between anger and the attachment to anger, and between anger and violence. There are ways to express our anger that do not create suffering (it takes work of course).

    Bush and Obama have the same Buddhanature and are very different. They may well have very different impacts on others too (the men, women and children being blown to pieces in Iraq spring to mind). This seems like a significant difference.

    I have no trouble knowing that both Bush and Obama want happiness. The consequences of their lack of insight has consequences.

    Evan’s last blog post..I’m Getting Married

  3. I don’t know 12 step buddhist.

    I feel like I WANT to feel compassionate to W, but I don’t feel quite there yet. I am definitely less angry than a lot of the people I know. I do feel bad for him, being labeled by some as the worst President ever, but I’m not sure if I feel compassionate towards him.

    Something to work towards in 2009 :).


    Bryan’s last blog post..Jan 23, The Comedy Channel

  4. Anger is a sin, anger is a suffering, anger is the cause of most of the disorders in human like. All the momentary impulses whether anger or sex is the cause of human suffering. again, that is the law. That is the quintessential make-up of ordinary human being that is why whatever he achieve, he will never get the freedom. Buddha was an extraordinary human being, he also underwent through most of the suffering and ultimately got the truth. We can’t deny the fact that after so may 1000 years still there is larger follower of Buddhism and people are taking that principle seriously.

    We all ordinary humans are escapist, we say we ought to do errors we it is HUMAN but who else in this universe greater that human? He is the finest creation created by creator and all we do is engage in sense pleasure, hypocrisy and accusing each other. there is no point accusing Bush, Obama, Osama and any godamn x y z. there is only one corner where we can bring improvement that is within ourselves.

    Nice blog and thanks for your patience.

    shubhajit’s last blog post..Good, bad and Ugly

  5. The point I got stuck was that you said the Buddhist are different from normal people in that they don’t have the luxury of anger like “normal” people which is to say that somehow Buddhist are not normal. I find this strange, we are all on our journey and yes when we are full of love and compassion there is no room for anger or hate, however when our ego does get ahead of us and we do feel anger we must allow that anger to flow beyond us and not beat ourselves up about the anger that we feel. We must be aware and allow ourselves to move forward. We are all connected and I don’t believe there is a “normal” nor does our belief system separate us from each other.
    May we learn from Mr. Bush and may he find love, peace and wellness in his journey.

    Mark’s last blog post..Exiting the Rat Race

  6. hello … i’m just going to come out of my little vacation hole and add a few comments. first of all, thanks for writing this post, 12-step buddhist.

    what does it mean to be “normal”? what does it mean to be angry?

    12-step programs are a bit ambivalent about the topic of “normalcy”. on the one hand, there is the concept of “terminal uniqueness” – that feeling other-than-normal brings us isolation and grief. on the other hand, there is the idea that people with addictions are not “normies”.

    and buddhism? same thing, maybe? on the one hand, there is the deep truth of us all being connected (so no-one is different, apart, not-normal) and on the other, buddhists are asked to forgo many mental, emotional and physical activities that “normal” people often engage in: mindlessness, for example, overindulgence, and, yes, anger.

    suffering comes from attachment and ignorance, says the buddha. so when evan says bush lacks insight, perhaps it’s that bush is suffering from ignorance (in a much deeper than the very obvious sense), and this ignorance created bad karma for both himself and the world around him. instant karma for many of us.

    on anger, perhaps i should just let thich nhat hanh speak. you can find his video here.

    and perhaps it al doesn’t matter. feeling bad for someone who has created suffering for others is a good start. acknowledging that bush wants happiness is a good start. remembering that we have to start with ourselves is a good start. and maybe that’s all we can do – start over again every day, every moment. (which brings us back to the 12 steps: “one day at a time”).

  7. “Normal” is a word people redefine on a regular basis. This urge to redefine is part of evolution. It is reassuring to know that people who seem difficult can be some of the wisest teachers. How we perceive depends on what we are ready to see and whether we are willing to expand.

  8. liara, thanks for showering me with all these comments on my blog today!!

    “this urge to redefine is part of evolution.” that sounds interesting. can you elaborate on that?

  9. I used to be a full fledged Buddhist (for 19 years); before that a devout Christian. Now I live by the Zen philosophy…I consider it a philosophy, not a religion.

    I think Obama’s election is great, and especially for minorities who have long felt like society viewed them as 2nd class citizens. However, the American government is so corrupted, changing presidents is like changing t-shirts on a dying cancer victim–the cancer remains but looks different on the outside. It will take several good presidents to really help change things–and an attentively involved public.

    I believe many religious people miss the true meaning of their own religions–which is one reason I reject all religion–but I do believe in God and remain spiritual. Anger is part of life…very natural. We sometimes must get our anger out, though it’s not always accepted by the masses as “proper”.

    Bobby Revell’s last blog post..Britney Spears Concert Killers

  10. I find that the best way is to scream when I am by myself… It releases my anger and allows me to be more civil when I am around others. I think that the most important thing is that these Ideas arer made available so that anyone can learn and practice these techniques.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *