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The Importance of Controlling Anger

Part 2 of 4 - In Bodhinatha's moksha ritau address for 2002, he continues with a practical explanation of the affects of anger and how important it is to get a control on this base instinctive emotion when intending to strive on the spiritual path.

Unedited Transcript:

An example of an emotion that many people experience and don't control is anger. Something happens in life and we get angry. We come home and we let the whole family know that we are angry something happened to us. We are disturbed on the inside. So, everyone we meet should also be disturbed on the inside because otherwise, life is not fair. Right?

So, if we are angry and upset on the inside because of it, we are going to make sure everyone else that we meet is upset on the inside, so that the upset is evenly spread around. It is no fun at all, if we are upset and no one else is. Those are the kinds of thoughts you actually go through when you experience anger. It becomes irrational, what you do.

One of the problems with anger is, we see it all over the place and this gives license for us to be angry. We think, "Gee, at school people are angry, at work people are angry all the time. I was raised. My parents were angry all the time in the home. On television we see anger. Anger is everywhere. Therefore, it must be all right to be angry because I see anger everywhere."

Well, of course, it is alright to be angry, but pursuing the spiritual path is different. To pursue the spiritual path and make progress, it is not alright to be angry.

Gurudeva gives us two very specific sutras on this, just to make sure we understand. There is one for men and one for women. For men, he says, "Siva's men devotees never argue with women, antagonize, disrespect, tease or abuse them in any way. They are always kindly, protective, helpful and understanding, honoring the mother spirit within women."

For women he says, "Siva's women devotees never become angry with a man, maliciously belittle or verbally abuse him or use other emotional controls such as disdain, accusation, crying or prolonged pouting or silence."

As we talked about a few months ago, the more subtle forms of anger are just cold shoulder. You know, you don't speak to someone, you ignore them. But you are doing so because you are angry with them. Anger does not have to be violent. It can be very subtle, as this is pointing out.

Why is anger such a problem? Because the chances of hurting someone when we are angry are up in the 90% somewhere, at least with our words. When we get angry, we tend to hurt people. There is a very, very high percentage of chance here, we are going to harm someone because we have gotten angry, at least with our words.

Harming them includes putting them into a state of fear. The mother and children are doing fine, having a great day at home. Then the father comes home all upset about something that happened at work and he bursts out in anger. What happens? The children go into fear. If it goes on a little bit longer, the wife will go into fear. The children will go into fear first. But if it goes on for a while, the wife starts to worry. What is going to happen here? So, we have put those we love in the state of fear. We have put them in a lower state of consciousness. We have lowered their state of consciousness by being in anger. We have hurt them just by that simple action. We have put them down in consciousness. We made them less happy. That is creating a karma. Just that simple action is creating a karma. Let alone if we keep going and start to verbally abuse them, make them feel bad about themselves, make them worry about life. Then, we are hurting them with our words.

So anger is a problem particularly in that regard because we are going to hurt someone. Hurting someone creates karma. Hurting someone is against the first yama. We have twenty basic principles here. They get more refined and we are messing up on the first one. So this is not good because the others do not work right if the first one is not in place. Like the darshans of Pancha Ganapati. If we don't have harmony in the home, we cannot expect the rest of our life to work out well. That is the foundation, each one is built upon the other and is more subtle. We will get back to that in a minute.

The Kural has a whole chapter on anger. It is placed, I am sure quite purposefully, before the chapter on non-violence, showing there is a relationship here between controlling anger, which is what is first and then right after it, is not being violent.

Just a couple of the verses, each one is very good. "Anger's fire engulfs all who draw near it, burning even friends and family who risk rescue."

So, that is the point we were making earlier, that it hurts others. It hurts your family, hurts even close friends when you get seriously angry. As they try and help you and you are serious about your anger, you will just keep going and hurt them even more.

"As a man trying to strike the ground with his hand can hardly fail, just as surely will one who treasures his temper be destroyed."

It is a sure thing, it is pointing out in Tiruvalluvar's way. He gives different messages to different people. Well, this one is a rational message. If you allow yourself to be consumed by anger then you are going to destroy yourself. It is very simple. Do you want to destroy your life? If the answer is "No", then of course, you have to think about controlling your temper. That is what we call his reasoning approach. He gives three different levels. He gives a very high-minded approach like, "Oh, the pure at heart would never get angry because they realize that is base behavior." He does not give any reason to do it. It is just the high-minded thing to do.

Then he reasons you into it. Well, if you don't do it, you will lose all your money. Someone says, "I don't want to lose all my money, I better not do it."

Then he has a third way which he scares you to death. If you are only motivated by fear, he says, "Oh, if you get angry at others, you will burn in hell forever."

He give three levels to try and hit the gambit of humanity, the range of humanity. Instinctive, intellectual and spiritual natures. So this is like an intellectual one.

What we are trying to impress here is how destructive anger is. Then again, this is not for present company. It is just for our broader audience on the web.

Lots of people don't think about that. But if you think about it, it really hurts your family life, can significantly impact your health, can cause you to lose wealth and certainly go backwards in your spiritual progress.

Gurudeva was so impressed with anger when he came back from Malaysia. As I mentioned before, there were people doing puja who got angry. He said, "If you get seriously angry, you should not do puja for 30 days. Otherwise you will be invoking the asuras rather than the devas."

So, that shows how seriously Gurudeva looked at it.

To summarize that part. What we are saying is that Moksha ritau is a time to become conscious of the inside, what is going on inside of us. If it is negative emotions such as anger, to increase our control over it. It is a time to watch the patterns of life. What is it that ticks us off? What is it that makes us upset? That disturbs us, that depresses us, that causes us to get agitated and angry? Try and break these patterns because what is going on inside of us. If we are happy, it does not have to relate to what is going on outside of us. We can be going through the most difficult times on the outside and still be happy. It does not have to impact us. We do not have to have this simple action-reaction response that lots of people have, we can transcend that.

That is the idea of Moksha ritau in that level.