Thursday, February 07, 2008

Anger

This past week has been a bit of a frustrating period for me for a variety of reasons and I've found myself feeling my old enemy growing in my gut. No, not a beer gut or the fatness that I rid myself of. I'm talking about anger. Growing up I had a terrible temper, I would lash out saying and doing things that were out of control. I would feel my temper rising and I would let it control me, acting out like an animal, yes humans are animals but you know what I mean. I've said things and done things that I am not proud of under the influence of anger but that was when I was younger around 19. It became apparent to me that I had to learn to control that rage and I decided that the way I would do that I would not act out. So I learned to suppress it and internalize it.

When life frustrated me, due to a lot of things, and the anger grew, I would grit my teeth and not act out but let it grow in me. That rage began to eat away at me and that became apparent in my first year of law school. I began to isolate myself and became more and more brooding, dark and irritable. I would lash out at friends and essentially became a hermit. All the rage would come out when I partook in some of the nectar of the Gods, usually made by Grey Goose. I was becoming someone I didn't like so I needed to change. Thats when I decided I would learn to understand myself and the root of anger.

As dorky as it sounds I turned to the Bhagavad Gita, I'm not a religious person but that text connects with me. The thing about Krishna, the singer of the Gita, is that he is a realist and practical, his advice to Arjuna is how to overcome his fears and false views and regain his resolve to take up his arms and fight a Dharmic war. He offers a keen insight into the nature of anger.
Krishna says in Chapter 2 Verse 62-63:

dhyayato visayan pumsah
sangas tesupajayate
sangat sanjayate kamah
kamat krodho 'bhijayate

krodhad bhavati sammohah
sammohat smrti-vibhramah
smrti-bhramsad buddhi-naso
buddhi-nasat pranasyati

Which means:
Fixating on the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.
From anger, delusion is born, and from delusion loss of memory. When memory is lost, then discrimination is lost and when discrimination is lost, he is lost.

I started to think about this and it made perfect sense to me. Our anger doesn't arise in a vacuum it arises when we are attached and expect something. When one is betrayed they get angry because they never expected the betrayer to do so. When things don't go the way we want or expect we get angry. I also discovered that when you get angry due to another's actions you have essentially given that person power over you, the power to control your emotions and the power to get to you. In other words, you are not your own master but at the whim of other people's actions, you become a reactive person. It dawned on me that I want to be able to achieve that sort of control over my emotions and in the words of Borat become "King of the Castle". Words and actions once said and done can never be revoked and will always linger in the minds of those whom it was directed at. We may forgive but we never forget and even our forgiven is usually conditional.

I do also believe in a righteous anger, an anger that stems from an injustice or a wrong committed to you or others. It is an anger that can fuel someone into correcting a wrong and balancing the scales but in those cases too one must be very conscious of allowing that anger and rage to overwhelm you. I haven't quite conquered my anger but I think I'm getting there, I am able to try and reason through it now, trying to find the rationality behind the other people's decisions and how to put myself in their shoes and then try and understand them, by doing so I can cut out the root of the anger in these situations which is ignorance and not allow the beast to grow. Control your anger and you will be able to find your center and the king of your castle.


2 comments:

Bhavana said...

You should try God's other sweeeeeet nectar. Might mellow you out some.

cynduja said...

When your angry, you expect your anger to control other people's actions, you expect the other to do what you want them to...anger is the expression of helplessness, of expectation...anger also has strong ties with our ego and our pride..anger is the strong blind protective force of a narcissist...But anger can't be gotten rid of by just trying to control it...it can be only by awareness, patience and copious amounts of compassion and love for the self