“Material desires, when unsatiated, generate anger, and thus the mind, eyes and chest become agitated. Therefore, one must practice to control them before one gives up this material body. One who can do this is understood to be self-realized and is thus happy in the state of self-realization.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 5.23 Purport)
There is something called “anger management”. It is a form of therapy. A trained professional working with the affected individual. At the root of the treatment is intelligence. Knowledge; in this case, “knowing better.”
As is often the case, the person with uncontrolled anger later regrets their actions. That tennis player shouldn’t have fired the ball into the stands. That batter shouldn’t have cursed at the umpire and kicked dirt over their feet. That motorist shouldn’t have intentionally driven so close to the vehicle in front of them.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada provides further details into the influence of anger. He also reveals the root cause. The discussion is within the context of becoming a yogi. A corresponding term is svami, which refers to a person who has control. A gosvami controls their senses, and this is the key to happiness.
1. The mind
The cause of anger is uncontrolled material desires. The Sanskrit word is “kama.” This can also be translated as “lust.” Something that I want. A goal towards which I strive. An objective to hopefully be met in the future. Desiring that someone behaves a certain way towards me.
These are examples of kama. Since we are not God, since we do not have full control over outcomes, it is inevitable to see failure in satisfying kama. The immediate result is frustration. Unmet desires can lead to krodha, which is wrath.
Anger impacts the mind. The emotion begins there. The mind is the knowledge-gathering instrument. It also guides the individual in certain directions, but might be overruled by the intelligence. For example, the mind says to drink that cup of coffee offered complimentary by the business. The intelligence realizes that there will be negative side effects later on, making the initial choice regrettable.
2. The eyes
There is the saying, “eyes red with anger.” The mind is the starting place for the anger, but the mind has no way of communicating. The eyes are a window into the individual, to indicate how they are thinking. Enraged, I look at someone a certain way. I want them to know just how upset I am. Sometimes all it takes is a look. The children know to not mess with the father when he displays the angry eyes.
3. The chest
They say anger is not good for the health. A corresponding spike in blood pressure. This affects the chest area, where the heart is. The angry person breathes deeply, in and out, ready to burst and act in ways previously unknown to them.
Controlling material desire is key. The objective is to make the reversal prior to the time of quitting the body. Control of desires is self-realization, and happiness results. This is different from ordinary happiness, which arrives and departs in waves, like the way the leaves change color in the fall and become green again in the spring.
Controlling desire is easier said than done. There are sense objects everywhere. I could be living peacefully, without any issues, until I come across a sporting event on television. I don’t know the participants, but after watching for a few minutes I develop an interest.
Later on, my preferred team loses. Now I am upset. This is in illusion, but the sentiment is real. I could have avoided the entire episode by not engaging the senses in that direction, but there is vulnerability no matter where you turn.
The superior method is to engage desire in a different way. Work towards pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The kama then turns into bhakti. There may be anger exhibited every now and then, but the negative reactions are absent. Realizing the personal nature of the Supreme is realizing the self, as well, and sense control is a welcome addition to the process.
Chest in and out heaving,
Enraged difficult now breathing.
Eyes glaring red,
Those in path to dread.
Anger harmful but hard to control,
Like higher force gaining a hold.
Kama at the root directed,
In bhakti by Krishna protected.
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