How to use anger constructively (Anger management series 5)

We are often exhorted to avoid anger as it can make us act in ways that make our life hellish (Bhagavad-gita 16.21). Yet spiritual wisdom also asserts that everything in existence has a purpose. Does anger have a purpose too? Yes, it can sometimes get things done when other ways don’t. 

Suppose our child is doing something terribly self-destructive and is neglecting our gently-worded warnings. To get them to take our concerns seriously, we may need to speak to them strongly, even angrily. 

How can we use anger without becoming consumed by it? To understand, let’s compare anger with fire, specifically a forest fire that spreads rapidly and burns everything in its path. Significantly however, fire doesn’t burn the ground, even when it burns everything on the ground. 

Extending the fire metaphor further,  the ground of our existence — our spiritual essence — is like the ground. And the active arena of our existence — the worldly things that our consciousness  interacts with — is like the forest on the ground. When our consciousness is caught in worldly things, our sense of security, even self-worth, comes from those things. When our child does something wrong, we feel driven not just by concern for their welfare, but also by the fear that we may be deemed a bad parent. That insecurity may drive us to get far angrier with them than is necessary. 

How can we prevent such excesses? By using spiritual knowledge and practices to ground our consciousness in our indestructible essence. Being thus securely situated, we won’t feel personally threatened by their wrong actions. With concern for them foremost in our consciousness, we will be better positioned to express anger appropriately, not excessively. 

One-sentence summary:

Just as fire burns what’s on the ground, not the ground, anger consumes our consciousness when it is attached to worldly things, not when it is grounded in our spirituality. 

Think it over: 

  • When can anger serve a constructive purpose?
  • When does good-intentioned anger become excessive?
  • How can we express anger appropriately?


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.


To know more about this verse, please click on the image

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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