D – Anger

by January 29, 2012
The grand finale of the soccer World Cup: French star Zidane, playing like a maestro, leading his team to victory in the last match of his career. Suddenly something snapped; “anger is momentary insanity,” said Horace. And Zidane madly head­butted the lanky Italian defender Materazzi. What was about to be the crowning glory for an illustrious career turned into a disgraceful ignominy.

“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.”

The Bhagavad­gita (2.62) describes the psy­chological genesis of anger. When our desires, plans and expectations for control and enjoy­ment are thwarted, the frustration expresses it­self through harsh words and violent actions.

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?

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