Beware the Angry "Hulk" in You
- Dharma Movie Review for www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com :Plot Outline:
A geneticist's experimental accident curses him with the tendency
to become a powerful giant green brute under emotional stress.Tagline:
The inner beast will be released.
This comic book adaptation is more than what it seems- about the "universal" seething hidden demon of anger we sometimes suppress. It explores the consequences of its explosion. Upon discovery of his ability to transform into a no holds barred angry monster, Dr. Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) says the following with frightening effect- for both Dr. Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) and himself, "You know what scares me the most? When I can't fight it any more, when I...totally lose control....I like it!" It is an illusion that it is "cool to be hot." An alternative tagline of the movie is "Rage. Power. Freedom." Yes, rage can be powerful. But above freedom to let rage wreck havoc is the freedom to control it. In the Buddhist teachings, the idea of supressing of anger is not encouraged- for how long can a live volcano wait before it erupts? It's a time-bomb- a matter of time before kaboom! Instead, anger is dissolved and transformed by the practice of Loving-Kindness (Metta). Since the mind can only entertain one thought or emotion at a time, the Buddha discovered that the mind is suffused with thoughts of Loving-Kindness for oneself and/or others cannot accomodate anger or hatred simultaneously. Yes, even mixed emotions come one by one, though in a traffic-jammed maner.
Bruce hit the nail on the head about anger when he said, "I don't know what I'm becoming, but one thing's for sure... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Let's face it- no enraged person is truy mindful of what they become when they become angry- simply because letting rage take over us is itself a loss of mindfulness and often rationality. And yes he couldn't be more right- no one likes ANY person, be it the Hulk or not, when angry! An angry person is the direct opposite of a person radiating Loving-Kindness- he puts people off instead of beckoning them. An angry person IS a monster like the Hulk to some extent- with potential for unleashing unchecked violence.
So what do we do when we encounter a live "hulkish" person in real life? Betty tells her father General Ross as he pursues the Hulk in a chopper, "You will only fuel his rage. Let him calm down." What good simple advice! An mad person is momentarily "mad" as in "crazy" literally- pushing his buttons only makes things worse. Leave him alone for a while if possible, let him cool down before talking sense to him.
In the movie, we see Hulk playing the role of a reluctant hero only a couple of times. The problem with anger is that it controls you more than it allows you to harness its energy. While it seems pretty cool to be a rebellious anti-hero with a destructive streak, it's much more cool to be a cool-headed hero with everything under control. The Buddha, who faces real life demons unfazed, is the best example.
To quote Bruce's father David Banner (Nick Nolte), "We're going to have to watch that temper of yours." Well, we're gonna have to watch our temper too- and not let the Hulk in us rear its monstrous head!
Quotes on Anger
Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal
with the intent of throwing in at someone else-
You are the one who gets burned.
A lose-lose situation indeed!
Anger and hatred
are the materials from which hell is made.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Yes, we create hell all by ourselves.
When angry, count ten before you speak;
if very angry, a hundred.
Acting on impulse is... impulsive.
Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.
When you are angry at being misunderstood, you had become the enemy.
Anyone can become angry- that is easy,
but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree,
at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way-
that is not easy.
The wrathful yet compassionate manifestations of Bodhisattvas are skillful indeed.
Don't try this at home if you are not ready!
Any person capable of angering you becomes your master;
he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.
External conditions can only condition our anger. The cause is your decision.
Fighting Hulks & Monsters... in us
"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn't become a monster." So quipped Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. In returning hatred for hatred, defilement for defilement, one has become the mirrored image of one's very enemy. In conquering one's enemy with hatred then, one would have to conquer one more enemy with hatred- oneself! A lose-lose self-destructing situation. "Hatred can never be ceased by hatred. Only Love can cease hatred." So taught the Buddha.
I would like to add another line, "Whoever fights monsters should fight his own monsters- for our own monsters are the only real ones." One who conquers his inner demons will find the evil one, Mara, out there, subdued. The Buddha is the greatest hero not because he fought and won the greatest evil, Mara. He is the greatest hero because he conquered Himself. "Greater than he who conquers in a hundred battles is one who conquers himself."
So how did the Buddha win Mara anyway? He did not get up from his seat at the foot of the Bodhi Tree to physically fight Mara. His mind stayed very still, and watched, till each and every demon of defilement within himself, the minions and armies of Mara himself, were vanquished in the light of understanding. When you understand your enemies inside out, they cease to be your enemies- for you had already won. In knowing their every trick, how can your enemies ever trick you again? "Know thyself and know thy enemy, a hundred battles fought, a hundred battles won." So quipped Sun Tzu the philosopher.