When you said that one must think "[anger] who does it help?", I must say that I do that. I think that way too, but thats not enough. A quick example, related to fear: you can say to a child, that is trying to learn swiming, "dont be afraid of the water, there is no danger; I am here to hold you", and that child knows that there is no need for fear, but she will fear the water anyway! She just cannot avoid it. Reason is not enough (but its important of course) in this case
That's because there is deep habituation to the rage (hopefully only from this life). However concentration meditation can help enormously because you will begin to see the anger rise before it manifests. Then you can make a decision to suppress it or hopefully transform it, or more the Dzogchen approach, just watch it and not react and let it dissolve and dissipate all by itself, like writing in water.
About Vajrakilaya, the fierce tantric vidam, how does it work?
A yidam (also called a meditational deity) is a visualization of a Buddha or Bodhisattva that usually has a specific purpose. Yidams embody all the compassion and wisdom of all the Buddhas but differ wrt their activities. Vajrakilaya has the purpose of clearing obstacles or spiritual obstructions. I spoke with a beloved lama about using Vajrakilaya to transmute anger (I had already noticed that this practice had this effect on me) and he was taken aback and suggested just Avalokiteshvara. So he thought there was some danger here and wanted more an antidote approach. This is his only instruction that I have not followed because I have really seen this effect and in fact I have run into people who had the same experience. So how does it work? I don't know. The meditation itself seems to transmute the anger and cut it from the root over time (in my case over a short time). In order to take this approach, you would need to receive and empowerment and practice. I cannot guarantee that it will work for you, however. I would tell you to consult with a lama but Tibetans do seem to think that Westerners might misuse the practice and are reluctant to discuss Vajrakilaya in order to transmute anger (anyway, this was a kind of side-effect of the practice - I didn't practice in order to transmute anger). Maybe it is only happening with non-Tibetans? But all lamas I spoke with about this consistently want to apply antidotes via Avalokiteshvara (or possibly another peaceful approach). Even this may be saying too much about the practice actually.
However it hasn't done away completely and it is still possible that outbursts *could* happen (they haven't for quite a while but I notice the anger and the possibility still). Continued analytical meditation on the danger of anger is necessary as well.
Anger, however, while destructive, is not actually the problem. It's the reaction to anger that is the problem. All emotions are actually wisdom but we don't experience them as such (or another way of putting it is that once purified, all emotions arise as the display of wisdom, but when they aren't purified they arise as an obscuration). Sometimes we need the display of anger to help people, but that is rare.
Excellent post from the heart. Lots of useful information. I also have found that Vajrakilaya practice helps to transmute anger. When anger, or any emotion, is informed by awareness, it has nowhere to stay and just evaporates on its own - like writing on water.
Also, controlling the breath may help. We have all heard the saying take three deep breaths when you get angry.
So try to use anger (or any unwanted trigger event) as a reminder to watch the breath.
This could be observing the sensation of the movement of air at the nostrils, or the movement of the diaphragm with the breaths.
Slow the breath and just stay with this observation until the anger subsides of its own energy. Just watch the breath without comment. If you are distracted by strong thoughts or feelings, try to just gently bring your awareness back to the observation of the breath. I think that exercise, walking or running until you are physically exhausted, is a good way to adjust your energy until you can focus enough to observe the breath again. Do whatever helps you (without acting out on the anger).
Invoking the blessings of a spiritual teacher, or guide, that you have faith in, is also something you can try.
Perhaps changing where you live, or sleep might help and / or changing your diet, if changing any of these are possible. Try sleeping in a North South direction, with your head to the North, assuming you are North of the equator. Keep a detailed diary, and try to note what else is happening in your life when the outbursts happen. Maybe try writing in the diary when the outbursts occur, as this will make you slow down to concentrate, which will also change the brain chemistry.
Perhaps understanding that the emotions are related to chemistry changes in the brain might help you to understand that you are not / not the cause of your anger and if you just wait a while, the storms will pass.
When you do the slow breathing, with the observation of the breathing, this changes the chemistry of the brain and the anger changes also. You can consider that it is the same thing for the reaction to (the results of) anger.
You can also try to "change the channel" by doing some positive activity that has made you feel good before: getting a warm fuzzy. This also creates the space that allows change to take place.
Good luck - It's not so easy - this life.
My Teacher has said you have to be strong and dominate your mind / emotions. Another way to say this is from a poem by Len Chandler,
"You can't change the weather, but you sure can set the sail,
And the harbor looks so much better when you've made it through the gale,
So I guess I'll have to keep on, keeping on."
Hope this helps.