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Out of Anger-Prison – A Teaching Story

Out of Anger-Prison – A Teaching Story

Hostility toward others actually inflicts injury upon ourselves. Here is Nelson Mandela’s inspiring story about the moment when he was set free–and the author’s personal lesson about liberation from the prison of anger, given by her mother, a survivor of the Holocaust.

When Nelson Mandela was released after decades of political imprisonment, he described his walk past his prison guards into life as a free man. Upon seeing the guards, anger flared for a moment in his mind. At that moment, he made a choice. He realized that these people had imprisoned him for over twenty years and that becoming angry with them would simply delay his freedom further. He was not going to give the guards one more day of his life by becoming a prisoner of anger. Leaving prison behind, he walked into life ahead, a truly free man. This is the way to be wisely selfish. If we care for ourselves and want to be free, we will protect ourselves from the consuming flames of our anger.

When I was thirteen, I relied on angry outbursts to release the tension mounting within. One day, I came home from school fuming over an interaction with a teacher. Looking for a place to vent, I sought out my mother. I began raging about my day at school.

“I hate my teacher! I hate her!” I shouted. Until this moment, my mother had remained silent. Then, looking at me across the infinite expanse of the human heart, she spoke. “If you hate someone, it is your own life you destroy.” I was stopped. Her words, in a moment, disarmed me. My indignant world turned inside out. If hate were ever just, I knew no one who was more entitled to it than my mother. She had watched her life go up in Nazi smoke. Auschwitz. Just uttering this one word is enough to deliver me to unfathomable depths of human hatred and anguish. The Holocaust, a conflagration, destroyed a world. That world lived in my mother, and now she was giving me the golden elixir of her passage into darkness.

Many years later, I became involved in Buddhist practice and first heard about an unbroken lineage of teachers comprising a “living tradition.” The uninterrupted flow of realization from one human being to another via body, breath, and heart is what makes a teaching transmission “alive.” This was the secret power in my mother’s message. It was alive. She was passing on her living truth.

Read more: Spirit, Inspiration, ,

Adapted from A Call to Compassion, by Aura Glaser (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2005). Copyright (c) 2005 by Aura Glaser. Reprinted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser.
Adapted from A Call to Compassion, by Aura Glaser (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2005).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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2:18AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Thanks for the information.

5:10AM PDT on Sep 21, 2012

thank you

10:00AM PDT on Sep 19, 2012

Being angry at someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die

7:37AM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

This article is true - but hard to apply if a person suffers abuse for decades.... that is when we need our friends to remind us and help us find a peaceful way out.

9:52PM PDT on Mar 12, 2012


5:57AM PDT on May 5, 2011

Thanks for the article.

11:08PM PDT on Aug 3, 2010

thanks Annie:)

5:34AM PDT on Jun 14, 2010

This is so true, thank you.

2:13AM PDT on Jun 14, 2010

thanks for the information

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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