Just because we have a right to be angry doesn’t mean we are right to be angry
Sometimes, people wrong us by acting foolishly, irresponsibly or treacherously. At such times, we feel angry with them and also feel that our anger is justified.
Still, acting angrily is usually not the right thing to do. Why not? Because to sustain any relationship, we need to focus not on claiming our rights, but on considering what is right.
However, anger gives us a deceptive certainty that we are doing the right thing, so we don’t need to consider the consequences of our actions. The heat of anger melts the barricade of our intelligence and leaves us defenseless against the waves of violent impulses rising in our consciousness.
Just as anger sabotages our intelligence, it also sabotages others’ intelligence. That’s why if we get angry with others, we increase the chances that they will also get angry with us, thereby escalating a reconcilable difference into a litany of apparently irreconcilable differences. The resulting confrontation often damages far more things than the thing we were so concerned about protecting. Thus anger backfires. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita cautions that anger paves our way to a hellish life, in both this world and the next (16.21).
How can we focus on doing what is right, not on claiming our rights? By using our intelligence to contemplate the best course of action. When we feel provoked, just a few moments of contemplation will deter us by showing that acting angrily is the worst course of action.
Moreover, if we strengthen our intelligence by regular scriptural study and spiritual practice, we will stabilize our consciousness. Amidst provocative situations, we won’t give in to anger, but will prayerfully and purposefully focus on determining our core concern and addressing it in a way that is least aggressive and most effective.
Think it over:
- How does anger affect our intelligence?
- How can anger backfire?
- Do you feel you have a right to be angry with someone? How can you shift your focus to doing what is right?
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.
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