The Angry Man
When we were children, our parents would often tell us meaningful stories in an effort to instil in us good moral values. One such tale was about ‘the angry man’. While the details of the story remain vague, the impression that it left on my mind is clear. He was a lonely, unhappy and an unloved man who no one should ever aspire to become.
We know that anger is one of the deadliest emotions. It erupts like an active volcano, spilling ash, rocks and hot lava all around itself. When we stand back and observe another person getting angry, we can see how destructive it can be. Not only to the person at the receiving end of the angry tirade, but more so to the person who is unable to control it.
Even if the anger did not spill out, but continued to bubble and fester inside, it would be just as destructive, like a lethal poison curling through our veins, penetrating every fibre of our being.
If you knew how much harm anger does to your liver and heart, you would never lose your temper over anything.
Sardar Bahadur Jagat Singh, The Science of the Soul
A common justification is blaming others or the circumstances for ‘making us angry’. We do not take responsibility for our own actions and reactions. So much so, that we consider becoming angry as acceptable behaviour.
Anger is born of ego. And as long as we have ego, we are all potential victims of anger. No matter how calm or composed we might usually be, there are times when we lose control and fall prey to this destructive emotion. And when we do, we hurt not only those who are close to us, but also ourselves. Whatever progress we may have made on our spiritual journey, we lose. Like slipping down a snake in a game of snakes and ladders, we move further away from our spiritual 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
Sometimes the rage we feel inside may be triggered by another source. We are enraged when we witness any injustice, especially where our loved ones are concerned. If anyone were to knowingly hurt a friend or family member, the anger that we would direct at that person is just as destructive as anger born of ego. It eats away at our peace of mind.
I vividly remember the time when my father was attacked by a robber. As he lay bleeding and helpless in the hospital, I remember feeling shocked and enraged at the person who committed the crime. It was like having a huge ball of fire churning in my stomach. Intellectually we know that everything that happens is predestined, and such events are all our own karmas which we have to bear and withstand. But when we are going through it, it is difficult not to get carried away by the anger and pain. It refuses to go away. The only way to douse the flames is with simran. That is all we can do.
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.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Light on Sant Mat
As disciples on the path, we have been given a gift that not only helps lead us back to God, but also helps us deal with the challenges we have to face in our daily lives. Meditation helps us to deal with these disturbing passions and destructive emotions. It replaces agitation with peace. Instead of the heat of anger, we are soothed by the cooling shade of Shabd. As advised by Maharaj Charan Singh Ji:
We should try to digest our anger within because anger doesn’t solve any problem. As far as possible, one should try to avoid losing one’s temper. Getting angry can become a habit. If we start expressing it because we think that by voicing it we can get rid of it, rather it builds more and more. It’s always better to rise above it.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
By turning to meditation, we are turning our face towards the Lord. And it is only when we turn to him that we realize his strong presence in our lives. His grace is always there; we have only to be attuned to it. The Masters are the embodiment of love and kindness, and they always advise us to be loving to everybody, no matter what the circumstances.
We have to fight with the mind not to become angry at all. But if we do, it’s better to keep our lips sealed rather than express it. It’s better not to feel it, but if you feel it, at least don’t express it, and if you do express it, express it very gently and lovingly.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
Destiny may place us in different situations, but how we react to those situations is our choice. We can choose to be like the angry man, or we can choose to rise above anger and make love our strength. Anger pulls us down into the depths of darkness; love lifts us up into the light.
Reason is light in darkness, as anger is darkness amidst light.
Be wise -let reason, not impulse, be your guide.
Kahlil Gibran, A Spiritual Treasure