How to ensure that anger is constructive, not destructive
We all sometimes encounter injustice and brutality, as when we see police excesses against the helpless. If such experiences make us feel outraged, that is healthy — it indicates that our heart hasn’t become deadened by apathy and lethargy.
We all have a heart that is essentially aspirational. What makes us wake up every morning and work is the hope that the future can be better than the present, and that we can help in creating that better future. This aspiration comes from our spiritual essence — our soul, which belongs to a better place and longs for that better place. Ultimately, that place is the eternal kingdom of God, the place where love and joy reign supreme.
Our aspiration for a better life can help us create a selfless consciousness within and a selfless culture without, both of which contribute to a better world or more precisely, a better replica of that eternal world. Unfortunately, when this aspiration is taken over by the mode of ignorance, it stops working to create a better world and starts merely railing against the world for not being good enough. Over time, this urge to reform deforms into the impulse to destroy indiscriminately. To the extent anger becomes unfettered from the intelligence, it becomes destructive — indeed, it becomes a gate to hell (16.21); it makes our world hellish.
Our anger needs to be guided by the intelligence so that our energy focuses on what exactly is wrong and how it can be fixed. When we nourish our intelligence with spiritual wisdom and direct it to bring inside-out change in our consciousness and our culture, then our anger becomes a powerful force for positive change.
The anger that arises on seeing injustice becomes a cause of injustice, unless it is regulated with intelligence and guided toward transcendence.
Think it over:
- When is the feeling of outrage good? Why?
- When does anger become destructive?
- How can anger be channelled constructively?
16.21: There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.