Notes on Anger
Mind is a powerful and cunning entity. It is constantly on the move and its pursuits are endless. Without mind, it would be impossible for the soul to function in the environment of this physical world, yet some aspects of the mind are the deadliest foes in creation. There are five menaces – lust, anger, greed, attachment and egotism – at the root of all negative actions that man has committed since time began. They are not found outside in the world; they are closer than our own shadow. This article considers just one of these – anger – and what we can do about it.
Anger, when unleashed, causes so much pain and damage that the effects can be felt long afterwards. Maharaj Charan Singh writes in one of his letters in Divine Light:
Anger is a harmful emotion … if you knew what great harm one moment’s anger does to your liver and to your whole body, and what poison it creates in the system, you would never become angry at anything, no matter how upsetting the condition may be.
It’s easy to become angry. At the time it happens we may believe we are justified in our reaction: that what we are feeling is ‘righteous anger’. Afterwards, however, we usually regret having acted angrily towards someone, especially if it is a loved one or friend. It may help us to remain calm when rattled if we understand what it is that triggers anger.
A common stimulus is when we don’t see our wishes fulfilled. In other words, anger is prompted when one of the other passions – lust, greed, attachment or egotism – is frustrated in the attempt to gain its object. Unless we are strong enough to shrug off anger, or are connected to a higher power that can help guide our behaviour, then we tend to fall victim to the mind, which in turn is at the mercy of the senses.
At that moment of vulnerability, the mind can take us any way it chooses, and there’s no telling where things will end up. We may take out our frustration on an entirely innocent person, speaking harshly and treating them unfairly. Or our disappointment may make us subject to feelings of despondency and rejection, playing unwanted scenes over and over in our heads. These impressions stored in the mind will hinder us from moving forward on the path.
Ultimately, keeping our mind clutter-free and relaxed will help us during our meditation time. A mind that is calm, balanced and free from anger will be far better able to help unburden us of the karmas that have kept us tied here, and to which we are always in danger of adding.
Anger has been responsible for so much suffering in the world, and its death count rises every minute. Giving in to anger will not solve our problems; on the contrary, it will make them bigger. If we are to fight the threat of karmic entanglement, we must keep a constant watch over the mind – because anger will use any means it can to disturb our inner balance in order to cause a reaction outside.
The trick is not to be disturbed by anything or anyone. This is easier said than done, and cannot be achieved overnight. But cultivating a positive outlook and a strong will, with regular meditation, will gradually help our angry tendencies to subside. It’s a slow process, but if we are heading in the right direction then we will get there in the end.
Antidote to Anger
An antidote to anger might contain the following remedies:
When you feel anger brewing, keep quiet and do simran. You will find the anger slowly dissipates. Try it – it works!
Identify things that make you angry – write them down if it helps. Then promise yourself not to become upset when something on the list happens.
Don’t criticize or slander others about their weaknesses. It’s better to know your own weaknesses and improve yourself.
Be compassionate, because you’ll find the same strengths and weaknesses in others as you do within yourself, just to differing degrees.
Remind yourself that getting angry causes damage to your body internally. This should be enough to put anyone off becoming angry.
Finally, if you find yourself on the receiving end of someone else’s anger, keep cool and stay quiet. Let Mr or Mrs Angry blurt everything out before you respond – if there is a need to respond.