Anger is an enemy because it disturbs, confuses and destroys one’s mental equilibrium and causes one to commit sin, involuntarily, against one’s will. It veils the true nature of the Self, which is eternal bliss consciousness and makes one lose one’s proper sense of values and act against one’s normal code of behavior. Anger is like a wildfire which burns everything in its path, or like a whirlpool which drags the mind downward toward a lower state of awareness.
Anger flares up when the means to fulfill one’s desire is blocked. When the flow of desire is obstructed, anger erupts at the point of collision. So rather than blame desire, it is the inability to fulfil the desire that stands accused. Anger is the result and display of weakness, the inability to live in harmony with those natural laws which lead to the support of one’s evolutionary desires in life. When the mind is strong, then nature upholds the upward march of life towards successful action and spontaneous achievement and fulfillment.
How do we conquer the desires which lead to anger? The doctrine of Karma Yoga teaches that the only way to subdue the desires is to turn the mind to Being. In order to modify the nature of the intellect, mind and senses, one must go to the level which lies beyond them. The most subtle level of subjective life is the Atman, the level of pure Being, the Self. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says: “The science of action advocates transcending desire as a technique of subduing desires and also bringing fulfillment to them; useless desires will be subdued; useful ones will find fulfillment.”
Anger damages the internal organs of one’s body and the harmonious flow of life in one’s environment. When one gets angry, one loses one’s power of discrimination. One says and does things which injure the feelings of others. The results of one’s actions inevitably lead to an increase of sorrow in one’s own life. Uncontrolled anger is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. After losing one’s temper, one may apologize for one’s mistake, but even an apology may not be able to entirely remove the wound in the heart of the other person. We may even risk losing a precious friendship.
There is a story that a person lost his temper in the ashram of a saint. After he had left, the saint said that in five minutes of anger, that person wasted many years of his tapas. In the Dhammapada, Lord Buddha says: “Let go of anger. Let go of pride. When you are bound by nothing, you go beyond sorrow. Anger is like a chariot careering wildly. He who curbs his anger is the true charioteer. Others merely hold the reins. With gentleness, overcome anger. Speak the truth.
Give whatever you can. Never be angry. These three steps will lead you into the presence of the gods. The wise harm no one. They are masters of their bodies. And they go to the boundless country. They go beyond sorrow. Beware of the anger of the body. Master the body. Let it serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mouth. Master your words. Let them serve truth. Beware of the anger of the mind. Master your thoughts. Let them serve truth. The wise have mastered body, word and mind.
They are the true masters.” The only way to conquer anger completely is for the mind to become established in the Self, the source of eternal bliss. When the heart is full of love and bliss, there will be no chance for any emotional disturbance. In the case of an enlightened person, the permanent state of restful alertness of the body which corresponds to pure awareness of the Self prevents the stir of desire and anger in the nervous system.
From my own experience, I can say that I used to be quite short-tempered, but after many years of meditating, the anger, if it comes, is very short lived. One may have possessions but one will not be possessed by them. The objects of the senses are unable to overshadow the true nature of the Self. Rather, everything in life is enjoyed, but the experiencer is not lost in the experience. When one is permanently established in the Self, one can only give. A full heart can only overflow and radiate bliss and peace into the environment. This is the quality of a saint. The internal enemies have been vanquished completely. They live in the eternal freedom of divine consciousness.