It is certainly an emotion all of us have experienced at some point in our lives. Many of us become completely absorbed by it, and in a fit of insurmountable rage, furiously unleash on perhaps an undeserving victim. Or we may be on the receiving end of another’s fuming wrath, unable to understand what we did to deserve such hatred and negativity. No matter what the circumstance, or who was at fault, it is clear that bursting out in a fit of anger is never the correct solution or attitude.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that almost all of us lose our temper on a daily basis. It may be at a family member, a colleague or even at a fellow sevadar. The degree to which we are enraged may vary, but nonetheless it invariably leads to disastrous consequences and hinders our spiritual progress.
For all of us, it is therefore crucial to understand the harmful effects of anger, and strive to control this resentful feeling.
Why is anger detrimental to our spiritual progress? As Maharaj Jagat Singh explains:
Anger burns up all that is noble. It tears down and annihilates every fine quality of mind and soul. It is a consuming fire born of the fires of destruction. Anger is truly the sapping and the consuming passion.
The Science of the Soul
In order to make any progress on this path, great importance and emphasis is placed on being completely still, and concentrating on the inner silence within. This is impossible to achieve with a heart filled with anger. Furthermore, upon advancement on this path, we realize that the core of this path revolves solely around love. Love for the Lord. Love for all creatures and beings in this creation. That being the direction we are headed in, how do we expect to advance on this path with hatred, anger and rage? We must keep in mind that any anger in our heart always leads us away from our goal.
Anger is a great enemy on the spiritual path – a single spark can kindle a million misdeeds. A single wave of anger aroused by ego can drown devotion and all good deeds.
Kabir, The Great Mystic
Anger is a powerful emotion filled with poison. It brings an immense amount of intolerable hurt and despair upon the recipient. It also clouds our judgment and distorts our clear thinking. Further-more, it instils in us an immeasurable amount of negativity in our daily thoughts and actions. Not only does anger hinder our spiritual progress, it destroys us tremendously from a health perspective as well.
Most of our actions are done on the spur of the moment, without thinking. Always reflect calmly. If you knew how much harm anger does to your liver and heart, you would never lose your temper over anything. Ask a physician and he will tell you how blood becomes poisoned in a fit of anger.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul
Upon understanding how anger can lead to disastrous consequences, we need to pay attention to controlling and overcoming this negative tendency. Maharaj Charan Singh provides us with excellent advice:
When one is angry, he lets the reins slip out of his hands and thus heads towards disaster. A person in anger cannot think calmly, cannot reason coolly, and apart from the spiritual loss, suffers in a worldly way also. The best way to overcome such feelings is to apply yourself devotedly to the repetition of the five holy Names. Not only should the repetition of the Names be done regularly every day at the time of meditation; but especially at the time when anger seems to be creeping into your mind, you should immediately begin repeating the Names with your attention for about five minutes. You will then find that the raging fires will subside. The more you practise meditation and turn your attention inwards, the more you will get rid of these things and acquire self-control.
Light on Sant Mat
The key is meditation. Nothing more is required of us. Meditation is critically important, and is the only solution to this disease. Meditation helps rid us of our ego and detaches us from worldly affairs, thus leaving us indifferent to any situation or circumstance around us.
As our consciousness withdraws from the extremities of the body up to the eye centre … our frailties and weaknesses begin to disappear. Lust, anger and other negative sister passions leave, and positive powers are awakened in us. It is then that man realizes his real value and true worth.
Maharaj Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul
The next time we find ourselves in a situation that could potentially infuriate us, instead of reacting with anger, we must remember the beautiful words of wisdom provided by the mystics and consciously act on it. As Saint Kabir says, “Anger is momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.”