PART 1: Beyond Anger
Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in our personal relationships, and in the overall quality of our life. And it can make us feel as though we are at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
Anger pervades our age. Modern society seems to give us more opportunity than ever to experience irritation and annoyance. Traffic, relentless negativism in the news, instantaneous communication that provides us with the opportunity to respond to one another before we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what we are communicating. The violence in the world reflects how people are living with feelings of hatred and anger, irritation, annoyance, and frustration. Anger has always been part of the human condition. It exists in us because it offered our ancestors, both human and nonhuman, an evolutionary advantage. It is actually a powerful and healthy force in our life if used properly.
How can we transform the lower qualities, like anger, ego, greediness and deceitfulness, into higher ones?
Can anger serve a useful purpose in the spiritual life?
Even though we are all aware that living with anger, resentment and frustration can lead to many mental and physical conditions we continue to live with anger every day trying to learn to manage this emotion. However, the more we try to control our anger the stronger it gets, as we give it
Imagine fully letting go of our frustration, anger and irritation by learning to dissolve and transform it into the higher power of supreme love and compassion. Like the proverbial saying – Charity begins at home – only when one can be loving and compassionate to oneself can one be loving and compassionate to others.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion, If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”- Dalai Lama
So, what is the relationship between spirituality and anger?
When we get angry, our energy begins to flow downwards (lower negative thoughts) thus creating uneasiness. Typically, one of the primary emotions, like fear or sadness, can be found underneath the anger. Fear includes things like anxiety and worry, and sadness comes from the experience of loss, disappointment or discouragement. Anger is merely energy that has gone the wrong way. When the energy is transformed and flows upwards (to higher consciousness), as it is supposed to, the resulting effects are love, compassion, peace, and balance in our life. These higher qualities are our true nature.
Only when we are truly there for ourselves are we able to be part of that universal energy, that higher consciousness that is in each and every one of us and we are able to give it even to those who harm us, because it is what we have inside of ourselves. It truly is in everyone, to be love, if we allow it, we can begin by sending love and compassion to that part of ourselves, which is struggling with pain, sorrow and anger.
Giving, in any capacity that we can muster, without any expectations of return for our efforts, is the biggest step we can take to bring abundance into our life and to eliminate the need to forgive. Paradoxically because we don’t expect it we will find ourselves receiving more and more as well. Ultimately, we will discover that giving and receiving are the one and same thing.
Our anger is no one else’s responsibility.
We have to own our anger, befriend it, move with it, release it, transmute it. Recognized, anger can be dealt with in healthy ways that leave us feeling empowered, understood by others, safe and connected.
PART 2: The Holy Man
There was a holy man who lived in a hermitage on a mountain. Although solitary, it was not strictly a hermitage because some monks lived there with him. Even before the world began to seek him out, he was rarely alone.
When word got out about him, people came to see him during the summer months when the hermitage was accessible, first a few people then more and more until there was a long line climbing the steep mountain single file- tens, hundreds, and then thousands, some of whom never made it to is door before the snows came and forced their return.
There were no inns so the pilgrims had to be prepared to camp, which wasn’t a hardship as the weather was warm and dry. The views were outstanding and wildflowers flanked the path. At night the stars were dazzling. However, it did take strength to carry the camping gear and food, so anyone who was frail did not attempt to see the holy man who in any case was not a healer.
The line (can you make it out in the picture above) moved slowly, but it moved continuously during the few hours a day he welcomed people. In fact, those who were near the head of the line and could observe were amazed by how many people he managed to see, even though they were admitted one at a time.
Sometimes the pilgrims had to step aside for one of the monks who lived with the holy man as he or she stepped rapidly and lightly upon the path carrying supplies from the town ten miles below. These men and women were easily distinguished by their wheat-coloured robes.
Each pilgrim had a different type of issue they had come to see the holy man about. When after waiting days, sometimes weeks they knocked at the door, it was opened by a man in a wheat-coloured robe, a small non descript looking person.
“Yes?’ he would ask when the pilgrim reached the threshold.
“I have come to see the holy man.”
“Follow me please”
He or she would follow the small man through the house along a hallway, and in no time at all they had passed through the entire floor of the house and were at the back door.
The monk opened it wide and said, “Good bye”.
“But I have come to see the holy man” the pilgrim would say.
“You have seen me.” He gently replied.
Most times the holy man would add, “If you look on everyone you meet as a holy person, you will be happy.” Rarely, but sometimes, he sat down and talked to a pilgrim.
This story about a holy man, written by Susan Trott, is about several people who came to see the holy man to seek solutions to their problems. Following is an anecdote of a man who could not control his anger.
One pilgrim, when the door was shut behind him, felt enraged. His blood in a tumult rushed to his brain, breaking blood vessels in the whites of his eyes.
He pounded on the door. He shouted at the top of lungs, “Let me back in! You can’t do this to me! Who do you think you are? You fraud! You pipsqueak!”
Angrier and angrier he grew. He banged on the door, then went down the steps, stomping on the ground, flailing his arms, looking for something to harm, to break, a rock to throw, flowers to trample, but his red eyes were too blind with rage to see a rock, a stick, a flower.
So, he roared louder, calling up every vile, vicious profane foul word he knew, and he had many at his command, for the sort of temper tantrum was not new with him. What was new was being alone. There was no one to cower fearfully before his wrath, no one to try to placate him, shudder, turn ashen faced, wring hands and infuriate him further.
So, his anger ran out and he began to return to his senses, but an echo was coming back to him from the hills across the valley. His words were coming back at him as is usually the case with echoes. No, when he fell silent, the entire vile, vicious, foul-mouthed, disgusting tirade came back to him word by word, and at the same time his shadow reenacted his insane dance, his berserk leaping, stomping, and flailing. For the first time he saw how he looked and heard how he sounded and he was ashamed.
Please note that Anger was discussed at length in Wednesdays’s Newsletter.
It appears that many things are returning to near-normal now and most people are becoming more busy and have places to go out to. Keeping that in mind, please note that starting next week there will be only one newsletter (Saturday).
DHAN GURU NANAK
DHAN DHAN DHAN SADH JAN
With Warmest Nanak Love