Quite often, if not always, we find our anger towards someone justifiable. And quite often, if not always, we realize after a day or two, or a month or two, that it was avoidable. Who is right? The person in you who thought it was justifiable or the person in you who thought it was avoidable?
We can go on arguing as to which one is the right answer but before we turn to the authority in this regard, let me quote something interesting that the author of Unoffendable has to say.
We humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims and rewriting narratives that put us in the center of injustices. And we can repaint our anger or hatred of someone—say, anyone who threatens us—into a righteous-looking work of art. And yet, remarkably, in Jesus’s teaching, there is no allowance for “Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk, then yeah—you need to be offended.” We’re flat-out told to forgive, even—especially!—the very stuff that’s understandably maddening and legitimately offensive. (Source)
Correct. We get angry when we feel we’re being denied something that we deserved or when we find others were given something that, in our opinion, they did not deserve. This is where we get caught up and think that our anger is justified. The relieving news, however, is, we are not always right. In fact, so far anger is concerned, we are almost always wrong. Learning from the authority, we read the following from Bhagavad Gita when Lord Krishna identifies the root cause of anger:
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśano mahā-pāpmā viddhy enam iha vairiṇam
TRANSLATION: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said:It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
Srila Prabhupada explains:
“When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for Kṛṣṇa is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. Or, in other words, the sense of love of God becomes transformed into lust, as milk in contact with sour tamarind is transformed into yogurt. Then again, when lust is unsatisfied, it turns into wrath; wrath is transformed into illusion, and illusion continues the material existence. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy of the living entity, and it is lust only which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in the material world. Wrath is the manifestation of the mode of ignorance; these modes exhibit themselves as wrath and other corollaries. If, therefore, the mode of passion, instead of being degraded into the mode of ignorance, is elevated to the mode of goodness by the prescribed method of living and acting, then one can be saved from the degradation of wrath by spiritual attachment.
Anger in itself is like a self fueling fire capable of causing unrepairable damage and needs to be subdued by higher mode of nature, namely goodness. It is normal for a human being to be angry due to the constant variation in modes of nature that one is affected by at a given time, which, in turn, depends on the association of modes one may have chosen in the past. When one is influenced by tamas, or mode of ignorance, one remains vulnerable to getting angry every now and then.
Mind’s constitutional position is, it is inferior to intelligence. Only so far our mind accepts the authority and good advice of intelligence is it able to remain calm. A revolting mind creates havoc in one’s life, and anger, greed and such other unwanted elements fuel it even further. How to deal with it?
A famous key is to learn how to look at the reason behind anger and, as much as possible, without stretching beyond our mental capacity, forgive the offending cause. By forgiving, you are telling your mind that there is no reason to get angry. The reason I said “without stretching beyond our mental capacity” is, while practicing forgiveness is recommended, one should not pretend to be what one is not or else one may end up hurting oneself or even others in due course of time. Due to this limitation, forgiving may not always work, at least immediately. This is why we need to analyse anger a bit further.
One interesting aspect to remember is, anger, by definition, is not always condemned. What is condemned is the anger which is a product of lust. Arjun was angry and killed millions in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Similarly, Hanuman, the celebrated devotee of Lord Rama, burned down entire Lanka city when he was angry. The reason their acts are still glorified as heroic is, there is a gulf of difference between their anger and ordinary anger. Ordinary anger is a result of lust or unfulfilled desires under the modes of material nature, but anger which is beyond the modes of nature is directly under the control of the divine energy of the Supreme Lord.
Our original nature is love, not hatred. The reason we see more hatred in this world than love is, this world is a perverted reflection of the factual world, which lies beyond the mundane skies. The proof of this nature is, we always want to be loved. On the other hand, the nature of this world is anti-love, incompatible with our original nature. This incompatibility invariably causes frustration and anger and the only way to subdue them is by cultivating spiritual intelligence. If we can cultivate and practice the consciousness that prevails in the spiritual world, we can effortlessly go beyond the feelings of hatred and anger, and situate ourselves in our original, spiritual nature.