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Controlling Anger part 1

In part one of a talk on anger, Bodhinatha speaks of the various levels of difficulty people have with this instinctive state of consciousness. Gurudeva gave some very useful suggestions and remedies in this area. Anger expresses itself in different people in different ways. Usually someone is calm, and they lose it once in a while. Others lose it all the time; they're always upset about something. Others are selective--they're nice to everybody except a few people, such as their spouse. Gurudeva says a lot about anger in his Master Course Trilogy. Gurudeva's core point on anger is that it's the most difficult fault for people to overcome because it comes in so many different forms. Gurudeva drew on the eight forms of anger from the book "Angry All the Time." The ladder of anger goes all the way from the most subtle "sneaky anger" to the last rung, blind rage. Bodhinatha remarks that it's amazing how important Gurudeva thinks swearing is, as he wrote an entire chapter about it in Living with Siva. Swearing is the fourth rung on the ladder of violence. Bodhinatha talks about how swearing creates a negative force, a balloon of negative energy, around a person which stirs the lower chakras and ruins their life.

Unedited Transcript:

This morning the talk is on anger, present company excluded. We are all perfect in this regard. But there are a few who are not and they exist in cyberspace and they write in and tell me about their difficulties in controlling anger. From small difficulties, from an occasional sharp word to the mother, to major difficulties where you actually end up hitting your spouse, the whole gamut out there in cyberspace.

I thought we could look this morning at anger and study it out for a while and then look at some of the very useful remedies that Gurudeva has given to help control anger before it gets expressed as well to compensate for it, if it does get expressed.

Our monastery is a very controlled environment, very religious environment. It is hard to experience anger, first hand. It just does not happen, even our neighbors are nice to us. This is Hawaii, Aloha spirit abounds! But, there was an opportunity a number of years ago. It was a very interesting opportunity to observe anger from the grounds of the monastery. This was when a house was being built next door to the monastery. So there was a team of two carpenters working on this house, I don't know if any of the other monks had a chance to observe this very interesting drama going on over there. You could tell the two carpenters by their voices, very loud voices. You got to recognize them working over there. One of them was much more prone to anger than the other. He was so prone to anger that every few minutes he would end up swearing in a loud voice because the board didn't fit or something didn't go right or whatever. Out it would come, this loud swearing. I would say, "Well, I guess something went wrong over there." That was interesting but then even more so, about once a week he would just blow up. His anger would get louder and louder. He would start yelling, screaming, disagreeing, end up banging something down, jumping in his car, slamming the door and driving off. This happened about once a week. Now it was a very, very interesting study in human nature and anger that you usually don't get to experience. I thought about that for many years and tucked that away in my memory of anger experiences, in case I needed it in the future.

Anger expresses itself in different natures in different ways. Some people are usually calm. Occasionally, they lose their calmness and they become angry. This is the idea of losing one's temper, where temper refers to composure, calmness of mind. Usually we are calm, we are composed. But something happens either inside, outside. Somebody doesn't do something we want them to do. We have hit too many obstacles one day. Whatever it is, it puts us over the edge and the usually calm person becomes angry, loses one's temper.

Others experience anger more often, seems like they are always angry. Going around complaining about this and that, always upset, bursting out and they obviously have a temper, where temper means they anger easily.

Then there are other people who are selective in their anger. They are very nice to everybody except a few people. Maybe they are angry with their spouse. They are going along just fine until they encounter their spouse for the day and then they have to let the spouse know they are angry at the spouse. So anger goes on until the spouse leaves and then everything is fine again. They have chosen one or more people, just a few to be angry at.

It is interesting in English, you look at the terminology. If you have a temper, you are in trouble. But if you lose your temper, you are also in trouble. Why is that? Such is the English language. So you have to keep your temper. You can't have a temper but if you keep your temper, you are okay. How does anyone learn the English language, I don't know!

Gurudeva has lots to say about anger in the Trilogy. There is so much in there, it just took me hours to go through it all. Fills up a lot of the index, which fortunately we have, a wonderful index. Kumarswami, thanks to you for your overall guidance. It is so easy to look up these different topics and find the relevant points from Gurudeva.

Gurudeva's core point on anger is this. To quote, "Anger, I have observed, is the most difficult fault for people to overcome." That is an interesting statement - the most difficult fault. Why is that? "Because it comes in so many different forms - pouting, long silences, shouting, yelling, swearing and more."

Gurudeva continues by listing the eight forms of anger from the book 'Angry All The Time', which are described as eight rungs on the violence ladder. I will read those. Sneaky anger, the cold shoulder, blaming and shaming, swearing, screaming and yelling, demands and threats, chasing and holding, partly controlled violence, and the last one number eight is blind rage.

What does this show us? Well it shows us, that there is aggression here of anger and we need to be careful because if we are on this ladder at all, we might move up in the degree of anger we express quite easily.

You know, most ladders we think of as going up, climbing the ladder. In this ladder, it is useful if we think of it as going down, because that is what is actually happening. These eight rungs are taking us down in consciousness. We have to imagine the ladder is in a hole. We have dug a hole in the ground which represents going down in consciousness, the ladder comes up to the surface. Each time we step on a rung we are going down in consciousness, the lowest one being blind rage and the first one sneaky anger. Down we go from sneaky anger all the way down to blind rage.

In looking through the writings on anger, I was surprised that Gurudeva spent so much time on the fourth rung of the ladder, describing the fourth rung which is swearing. There is a whole chapter on swearing in 'Living with Siva', Gurudeva took it so seriously. It is right in the middle, it is number four there, you realize it is a ways along. Actually it is not just the beginning, it is the fourth step down this ladder of violence.

Gurudeva says it so forcefully I have to quote him. He states that, "Habitual swearing unleashes a negative force that will ruin ones life." That is pretty strong! Not 'may' ruin one's life or 'cause little damage'. No, it is going to ruin ones life here. This is a pretty serious statement and we are only on number four.

"Swearing is a good way to curse ones self to build up a big balloon of negative energy. Swearing stimulates the lower chakras until one day swearing will turn into screaming and yelling, demands and threats and so on." Sounds like the carpenter, right? So, we can see that even swearing is a problem. Why? Because it stimulates the lower chakras, we don't think of it as that. So many people swear, it can't be that bad. But, it is. It is stimulating the lower chakras which easily lead down from the fourth step of the ladder to the fifth and to the sixth and even the seventh and eighth.