When anger arises, the mind becomes deluded. The Bhagavad Gita has two beautiful slokas about this: From brooding on sense objects, attachment to them arises. Out of that attachment, personal desire is born. And from desire, anger appears. Anger confuses the thinking process, which in turn, disturbs memory. When memory fails, reasoning is ruined. And when reason is gone, one is lost. (2.62– 63).
In the moment, when you are angry, you are in a way, insane. Understand the root cause of your anger and say to yourself, “I won’t allow any anger in my life.” You can develop this control by using your own intelligence and by analyzing: I have a thought, a desire. And because of my desire, I’m afraid of either not getting something, or even if I do get it, then I become afraid of losing it. Continue to think of these things and reflect on them. That is a direct approach; you don’t need help from anyone. But, if you cannot do that yourself, if you don’t have an analytic mind, then there is another way. Put the responsibility on a Higher Power which you can call God, Mother Nature, or anything you like. Just think, You created me, you know what I should have, you know what I need. If I don’t get it, I know it’s because I don’t need it. So why should I become angry? That is a devotional or Bhakti Yoga approach.
Sometimes, when we try to do it all ourselves, it may seem that our capacity is limited. It’s not that we can’t do it, but if we feel we cannot, if we feel limited, then that thought itself limits us. When we are unable to control the mind, the worst thing is for us to think we are somehow sinners in life. Never put yourself down like that. By putting ourselves down, we lose our capacity to succeed. Instead, it’s better to think, Well I am mortal, limited in some ways, so why not put myself in the hands of an Unlimited Energy. This devotional approach is easier and by putting your complete faith in a Higher Power, there is nothing to worry about. Mother Nature began preparing our food, even before we were born. That itself is a proof of how much we are being taken care of. If we constantly think of a superior force that is guiding our lives, then we have no reason to be angry.
But, even with all that awareness, if the anger still emerges, than immediately separate yourself from that and see the anger as an object, an idea to analyze. Ask yourself, Where did this anger come from? What am I afraid that I will lose?
It could be the loss of money, of name and fame, loss of a position or of a friend or even of your body. When there is anger, there is also fear. It always comes down to being afraid of losing something. It may be the fear of losing your life—death. If you understand what death is there is nothing to be afraid of. We have all had many bodies before. This body is just one of the many cars in which you have been driving. When this one goes, you will get another one—a brand new model. The body has been produced through the formulation of the various elements. When anything is composed, it will decompose at one time or another. Then a new one is recomposed. If you think of death in these terms, what is there to be afraid of?
We can analyze all these fears. Consider the fear of losing money. The money was never ours. There is even a government seal on it! Originally, money was made in round coins to keep rolling. People began getting stingy and attached to money when they began printing it on paper, because paper doesn’t roll away. Instead, it gets folded and tucked away in a pocket. Money is made to roll. In Tamil, the word for wealth is celvam. If you change the spelling a little, the word is celvom, which means, we will go one day. We can’t be with you always.
You can also ask yourself this question: Did I even bring a cent with me when I came into this world? Will I ever be able to take any with me when I go. We come with nothing and go with nothing and in between we may have it for a while and then it may go. Why worry about it then? When you have it, enjoy it and when you lose it enjoy that too! If you think in the right way, all anger and fear will leave you.
If you think about the anger itself, you can use the same analytical approach. You may be angry because someone did not show up to meet you. What are you afraid of? You may be afraid of wasting your time. It makes you angry. Think of the anger itself and say, Ok, I’m angry. The person hasn’t even come to receive my anger! I’m boiling over. Has that person even been affected by my anger? No. My anger isn’t doing anything to that person; it is only hurting me. When you think of the damaging effect that your anger is having on you, and no effect on the person you are angry with, you will realize the worthlessness of anger. It will be easy to let go of it.