How to Respond to Anger
We have been asked several times during my lecturers on international platforms and also personally, about how to respond to Anger.
What is anger? Why I am short-tempered? Is there any Ayurvedic remedy to get rid of anger permanently?
Why do we want to get rid of our anger?
This question is complex.
There are many aspects to consider and close attention has to be devoted to the mechanism of mind according to Ayurveda. If we do not follow and explore it fully, we will not be able to be free ourselves of anger.
What do we mean by anger?
If we study KARMASTU-KRIYATE-from Ayurvedic scripture-we learn that our desires lead to action, which in turn bring about certain results. If those results do not conform to our desire, we feel frustrated and this leads to anger, inwardly or outwardly.
Anger can be understood, but not conquered. We may overcome a particular instance but, generically, problems have to be conquered again and again. No problem can be finally overcome, conquered. There are two completely different processes. One is two resist or do battle with a problem or alternatively we build up a defense against it. But this route will simply lead to further conflict. On the other hand, if we can understand anger … analyzing it fully, step by step – and hence explore the whole content of it, then the anger will never return in any form. That is what I hope we can do.
Anger has a peculiar quality of isolation. Like sorrow, it cuts one off, and for the time being, at least, all relationship comes to an end. Anger has temporary strength and promotes a feeling of isolation. There is a strange despair in anger; for isolation is despair. The anger of disappointment, of jealousy, of the urge to wound, gives rise to a violent release – whose pleasure is self-justification. We look for a means to justify ourselves. Without adopting some kind of resolute justification for ourselves, whether of self –righteousness or self–abasement, what are we? We use every means to bolster ourselves. And anger, like hate, is one of the easiest ways.
Simple anger, a sudden flare-up which is quickly forgotten, is one thing. But anger that is deliberately built up that has been brewed and that seeks to hurt and destroy, is quite another matter. Simple anger may have some physiological cause which can be seen and remedied. But anger that is the outcome of a psychological cause is much more subtle and difficult to deal with. Most of us do not mind being angry, we find an excuse for it. Why should we not be angry when there is ill-treatment of another or of ourselves? So, we become righteously angry. We never just say that we are jealous or bitter. Rather we try to justify or explain it. We ask how can there be love without jealousy? We explain that someone else’s actions have made use bitter, and so on. It is the explanation, the verbalization, whether silent or spoken, that sustains anger that gives it scope and depth. The explanation silent or spoken acts as a shield against the discovery of ourselves as we are. We want to be praised or flattered, we expect something; and when these things do not take place, we are disappointed, we become bitter or jealous. Then, violently or softly, we blame someone else; we say the other is responsible for our bitterness.
You are of great significance because I depend upon you for my happiness, for my positions or prestige. Through you, I fulfill, so you are important to me; I must possess you.’
Through you, I escape from myself; and when I am thrown back upon myself, being fearful of my own state, I become angry.’
Anger takes on many forms: disappointment, resentment, bitterness jealousy and so on. The storing up of anger, which is resentment, requires the antidote of forgiveness. But the storing up of anger is far more significant than a simple process of forgiveness when there is no accumulation of anger. Forgiveness is essential if there is resentment. If we can free ourselves from the need for flattery or a sense of injury, without displaying a harsh attitude of indifference, we will succeed in finding mercy and/or charity. Anger cannot be got rid of by the action of the will, for will is part of violence. Will is the outcome of desire, the craving to lie. Desire in its very nature is aggressive and dominant. To suppress anger by the exertion of will is to transfer anger to a different level, giving it a different name; but it is still part of violence. To be free from violence (which is different from the cultivation of non-violence), we need to understand the desire.
There is no spiritual substitute for desire; it cannot be suppressed or sublimated. There must be a silent and ‘choice-less’ awareness of desire. Passive awareness provides a direct experience of desire without the experience giving it a name.
Why do we want to get rid of anger? Why do we want to get rid of any desire permanently? It is because that particular desire is disturbing us and we don’t want to be disturbed. That is our whole process of thinking, is it not? We want to be self-enclosed, without any disturbance. That is why we want to be isolated. But nothing can live in isolation.
In his search of God, the so-called religious person is really seeing complete isolation, in which he will never be disturbed. But such a person is not really religious. The truly religious are those who understand relationship completely, fully, and therefore have no problems, no conflict. It is not that they are not disturbed, but because they are not seeing certainty, they understand disturbance, and therefore there is no self-enclosing process created by the desire for security.
When one becomes angry it produces adverse results that have an effect on the whole body. In this state, we must ask what blockages can occur in the body.
All emotions are energies, and if these energies are not used creatively they will disturb some part of the body, some part of the mind. Such energies have to be used. Unused internal energy creates certain blocks, and then gives rise to disease, like a tumor. So it is not just anger that creates a blockage. If there is a love within me to give and I am not able to give this love to someone, it can create a blockage within me. If there is anger inside me and I am not able to express it, it can create a blockage within me. If there is fear inside and I am not able to show it, fear can become a blockage.
All emotional states create energy within and this energy needs to be released. Creativity means that whenever energy arises it should be used in a creative way so that something emerges out of it and nothing is destroyed. Instead of using the energy to always criticize everyone, rather use it to write a song. The world could become a much better place if we were to use our energy, all the energy inside us, in a creative way. So, don’t reject any energy. Don’t reject any energy that arises in you. Consider it a blessing and try to transform it. All energy can be changed and can be transformed. And what appears to you to be bad can be transformed into something fragrant, something beautiful.
It is said that man is a rational animal, but this is not true. We don’t do very many things in our life simply as a result of thinking; most of what we do is influenced by our emotions, our hatred, our anger, our love, all these are related to our emotions, not to our thoughts.
Most of the activities in life originate from the world of emotions, not form the world of thoughts. We must also have noticed that we think one thing, and when the time comes we do something else. The reason for this is that there is a fundamental difference between emotions and thinking. We may decide that we will not become angry. We may think that anger is bad. But when anger gets hold of us, thinking is left aside and we become angry.
As long as a transformation in the world of emotions does not happen, just thinking and contemplation alone cannot bring about a revolution in life. That’s why on the spiritual journey the most basic point is the emotions.
I have found some ways to bring about purifications of the emotions.
Of the many dimensions that emotions cover I would like to emphasize four. I will talk about the four aspects through which emotions can become pure. These are also the four aspects that can reverse and become a womb for impure feelings. The first of these aspects is friendliness, the second is compassion, the third is cheerfulness and the fourth is gratitude. If you can embrace these four emotions in your life you will achieve purity of emotions.
These four each have their opposite of friendliness is hatred and enmity, the opposite of compassion is cruelty, violence and unkindness is hatred and enmity, the opposite of compassion is cruelty, violence and unkindness, the opposite of cheerfulness is sadness, misery, anguish and worry, the opposite of gratitude is ingratitude. Someone whose life and emotions lead to sadness, misery, anguish and worry lives a life rooted in a state of impure emotion. Someone who is rooted in the first four aspects of friendliness, compassion, cheerfulness, and gratitude, is rooted in pure emotions.
So, friendliness, compassion, cheerfulness, and gratefulness are the way to be at peace and create a pain-free society.
In the beginning, these can be experienced with nature. Only nature bears no resistance in us. You can show your love to a tree, feel grateful to the sun, moon and stars and appreciate them. Be thankful for everything which we have taken for granted. We can develop these four pillars inside ourselves by acknowledging the beauty of nature herself which will then manifest gracefully outside.
By allowing what exists on the inside to generate the existence of the outside, we complete the circle of totality in nothingness.
Another way is to be creative. Creativity has nothing to do with sensation. Be more creative. Dance, paint and don’t bother whether somebody likes your painting or not that is not the question. Write poetry. There is no need even to show it to anybody. If you enjoy it, write it and burn it. Play on your flute or guitar or piano. That will be your creativity. This creativity will make you complete, whole. And to be whole is the only way to be holy and healthy.
We recommend that you contact your old friend or relative and talk to him/her in a friendly way, show your compassion and happiness and thank him/her for being a part of your journey to this planet.
Have a great fun!