How can I stop being angry with my brother, who is so unkind to our parents?

Apr 10, 2023

 

QUESTION

Hi Ven.,

 

I am writing to ask you for a solution regarding my brother. We’ve discussed this and I think you’ve even talked to my parents about it. 

 

The fact is, he treats my parents like doormats, completely no respect, a lot of arrogance. He blames them for their simple background, is ashamed of them. He is very rich. There is not a shred of affection for them, let alone gratitude. He screams at them, lashes out all the time.

 

It enrages me and I am not able to apply my Buddhist teachings to look at him compassionately. I feel this deep aversion towards him, which is growing stronger.

 

How can I transform this? And help my parents? They are not able to stand up to him.

 

Regards,

 

ANSWER

Happy to hear from you, dear one.

 

This is just too terrible, isn’t it? 

 

There is nothing you can do except give up the anger. That doesn’t help you at all, doesn’t help your parents, and it won’t change your brother.

 

That’s the main advice.

 

And feel such compassion for your brother: the harm he is doing to himself is unbearable. 

 

And don’t feel sorry for your parents, just love them even more. 

 

What do you think?

 

Love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

It is indeed too ghastly for words! Dropping the anger is the part I am struggling with – am not able to. 

 

Can you give me practical advice on how to drop it? Should I meditate on my brother and his delusions? I sense my anger is intensifying and my heart is closing. Transforming this anger to compassion – I know I need to do this but I am stuck here; not able to do it at all. 

 

Thank you.

 

ANSWER

W!

 

1. One approach is to start painting a new picture of your brother. List his good qualities.

 

Right now you’re painting the whole of your brother with the brush of your anger. No matter how mean he is to his parents, he still has good qualities.

 

This does work, I promise!

 

2. And the one you talk about—having compassion for him—that has to be based on the understanding of karma. If we don’t have confidence in the logic of karma, then it doesn’t work.

 

His harming his parents is the cause of the most awful future suffering for himself. This is the clear basis for compassion. It’s like he’s eating poison.

 

3. Also related to karma, you have to realize that your parents must have created the cause to be harmed like this. That’s the sad dynamic in these situations: both sides are acting out their own past actions. Like the Russians and the Ukrainians. But we have a strong view of innocent victims and evil perpetrators: it’s just not like that.

 

4. And at the heart of it, of course: look at how it’s your own strong attachment to everything being lovely that is the main source of your anger. So develop the courage to see the ugly scenarios, welcome them, don’t be afraid of them. Attachment is like a fragile child that can only cope with nice things. When our attachment is less, when we’re more courageous in the face of ugly things, the anger is less and we suffer less. And then you can have compassion for both sides.

 

Much love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Thank you! This makes complete sense!

 

ANSWER

Yes, W. Buddha really is your best cognitive behavioral therapist!

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