D – Anger
“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame,” cautioned Benjamin Franklin. Undoubtedly a tragic tale, but isn’t it a replay of what we have all seen in real life? Or maybe even experienced? A disproportionate explosion over a trifle. And a career is in jeopardy.
The modern media with its vivid depiction of violence portrays anger as a heroic quality, as the quintessential psyche of the macho man. But is it really? Most people recognize that in real life anger is not a pleasant emotion, yet they savor the violent scenes in the movies. And then, strangely enough, they wonder why they themselves, in fits of anger, speak such words and do such deeds which break the hearts of their loved ones and which they themselves bitterly regret later. Anger breaks hearts and wrecks homes. When enslaved by anger, people violently attack, wound and kill others – sometimes ever their loved ones. Violent heroism in the media thus breeds violent crime in society. Anger can lead to all forms of conflicts ranging from petty quarrels to world wars.
Anger is also a known cause of a large variety of ailments ranging from high blood pressure to heart attacks. Thus anger destroys reputations, careers, families and lives. No wonder the Bhagavadgita (16.21) calls anger one of “the three gates to hell.”
How can we deal with anger? Thomas Jefferson suggests, “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, count hundred.” Consciously delaying action is useful in checking angry outbursts. And a spiritual transmutation of our emotions can completely uproot anger.
We are all souls, spiritual and eternal children of God. Our heart finds fulfillment only when we make God our first love in life. Moreover, knowledge that no material upheaval or upstart can threaten our inner wealth of devotion gives us an unshakeable inner security, which anger cannot shake. Even before we attain that tranquil state, devotion engenders spiritual maturity and stability within us.
Forewarned is forearmed. Often we indulge in anger because we do not recognize the danger of anger. The ‘d’ that enables us to see the danger of anger is the ‘d’ for devotion. When we awaken our dormant spiritual devotion by chanting the holy names of God, especially the Hare Krishna mahamantra, that devotion makes us strong at heart and wise at head. We develop the discrimination to preempt provocative situations, the openmindedness to see the other person’s viewpoint and the assertiveness to present our viewpoint without becoming aggressive.
The Vedic scriptures describe the story of a violent sadistic hunter Mrigari who would halfkill animals and enjoy seeing them suffering till death. But when he was enlightened by the great sage Narada Muni and empowered by chanting of the names of Rama, he became so selfcontrolled that he carefully avoided stepping even on an ant. Will our world not be a better place if more people were similarly transformed? Charity begins at home. Why not we begin with ourselves?