Leo Tolstoy
· The Circle of Reading
Translated by Dmitry Fadeyev

January 23

Of all the sins, anger at one’s brother is the only one that is directly contrary to the primary good of human life—the good of love—and therefore there is no other sin that is as certain to deprive a human being of the greatest good of life.

1

The Roman sage Seneca said that the best way to restrain your anger is to stop and do nothing the moment you sense anger welling up within you—do not walk, do not move and do not speak. If the body and tongue are given free rein, anger will only intensify.

Seneca also says that in order to break the habit of getting angry it is a good idea to pay close attention to other people when they are angry. When you look at other people and see the way they act when they are angry, when you see that they become akin to drunks, to animals, their faces red, enraged and hideous, their voice repulsive and hoarse, when you hear their foul language remember that if you give in to anger, you too would become just as repulsive as them.

2

People are often unable to restrain themselves and yield to anger because they think that there is something manly in anger—i.e. “I didn’t let the insult stand and really let him have it.” But this is not true. To avoid yielding to anger you must remember that there is not and cannot be anything good in anger, and that anger is a sign of weakness, not strength.

When an angry man fights with or beats up someone weaker than him, a child or a woman, even when he strikes a dog or a horse, what he is displaying is not strength, but weakness.

3

As much as anger harms other people, it harms the one who is angry most of all.

Anger is always more harmful than the insult that provoked it.

4

It is understandable why a selfish, greedy human being harms others: he wants to possess their property in order to become rich himself; he harms others for his own gain. An angry human being harms others without any personal gain, and moreover, by harming others he also harms himself.

— After Socrates

5

The one whose anger has no limits, the one whom anger has enveloped like dodder, will soon lead himself to a place where only his worst enemy would be glad to push him.

— The Dhammapada

6

Your enemy will repay you with anger, your hater will get back at you, but the anger in your soul will do immeasurably more harm to you.

Neither your father, nor your mother, nor your relatives, nor your neighbors can do as much good to you as your heart when it forgives and forgets an insult.

— The Dhammapada

7

Never consider your anger at other people just, and do not call or consider a single human being useless or lost.

8

A human being gets angry only because he does not know the cause of what he is angry at. Because if he knew this, he would feel angry at the cause, and not its effect. But the external cause of any phenomenon is so remote that it is impossible to find it; the inner cause, however, is always you yourself.

9

Why do we like blaming others so much and blame them unjustly with such spite? Because blaming others relieves us of responsibility. We think that we feel bad not because we are bad, but because others are to blame.


When people argue angrily with each other, a child cannot tell apart who is right and who is to blame and with sadness runs away from such people, condemning both, and he is always more right than either one of those who are arguing.