We may be wired to explode, but we can change our wiring

Short-tempered people are sometimes said to be “wired to explode.” This expression draws metaphorically from technology to imply that our behavior is determined by our inner wiring, just as a device’s functioning is determined by its wiring.

The Bhagavad-gita (16.04) acknowledges the reality of our wiring when it declares that the ungodly are born with qualities such as anger and harshness. This expression “wired to explode” serves as a vivid and valuable reminder of vulnerability. But if it is used to rationalize and perpetuate short-temperedness, it becomes a disempowering misleader.

Gita wisdom explains that we are souls, who are distinct from our bodily machines with their conditionings. So, we are not our conditionings, and our conditionings are not unchangeable. Phrased metaphorically, neither are we our wiring, nor is our wiring unchangeable. Pertinently, the same Gita cautions that anger is one of the gates to hell (16.21) and urges us to protect ourselves from it by living according to scriptural direction (16.24).

Extending the wiring metaphor, a bomb may be set to explode at a particular place and time. But that setting doesn’t mean it has to explode – it can be defused. Similarly, the bomb of anger may start ticking inside us, especially when we are faced with provocative situations. Still, we can defuse that bomb before it detonates.

Some people try to get anger out of their system through practices such as deep breathing, counting till ten, exercising vigorously or punching a boxing bag. While such practices may purge anger temporarily, it can be purified more sustainably by spiritual practices that connect us with all-pure Krishna. Connecting with him helps us realize our spiritual indestructibility and relish devotional serenity, thereby decreasing our vulnerability to anger.

When our mental machinery is thus rewired, we respond to provocations not explosively, but effectively.

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