When we react to atrocity with fury, we give the forces of illusion control over both sides of the war

Suppose two countries start fighting because one of them has done something terrible. Suppose further that one side is usually good and the other routinely bad. And the good side is fighting to deter the bad side from further misdeeds. 

But suppose a third country exploits this fight by providing weapons first to the bad side and then to the good side. Further, it incites both sides with rumors about the other side. As their fight escalates, the good side may end up becoming a pawn in the scheme of the third party to mint money. 

Something similar happens when we react to atrocity with fury. We are all living in the material world which is the arena of the forces of illusion. When someone does something atrocious to us, they are being driven by those forces through some vice such as lust or greed. But when we react angrily to their atrocity, we let those forces gain control over us through our anger.

Being enraged, we retaliate disproportionately. And so do they. As the tit for tat escalates, we become a pawn for the forces of illusion, like the other party. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (16.21) cautions that the forces of illusion attack not just through lust and greed but also through anger — all three make life hellish. 

How can we counter illusion? Through devotion. 

Even when our anger is justified, we need to first pray to God, “How can I serve you in this situation?” When we thus invoke God’s presence in our heart, anger’s control there decreases. Then we can come up with a measured response that is most likely to both deter the other side and defuse the situation.

Think it over:

  • Even when we are the good side in a fight, how might we become controlled by illusion?
  • How can we come up with a measured response to wrongdoing?
  • Does any situation trigger righteous rage within you? How can you channel that anger constructively?

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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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