I wondered as to how many holes I have left on the psyche of my loved ones over the years. The Hindu scripture, Bhagwat Gita, states that to be able to receive the divine truth about the nature of things, an individual should possess 26 divine qualities. One of these is Akrodha, absence of anger, exemplified in the following story. One day a man asks a saint how he constantly remains calm and loving to everybody. The saint ignores him and instead tells the man that he will die in a week’s time. Knowing that the saint is a highly spiritually developed individual, the man believes him and immediately goes home. He puts his affairs in order, mends his relationship with his estranged brother and is extra loving to his family. He also gives up long standing grudges with his neighbors. On the seventh day, he touches the feet of the saint and says that he is ready to leave his human body with a serene mind. The saint advises him to contemplate on his last week and henceforth live his entire life, keeping in mind that the next instance could be his last.
While some anger can motivate people to take an action against injustice, overall, the state of anger decreases cognitive and discernment ability. In terms of anger, human beings are at three levels. At the lowest level are openly belligerent people who are always waiting for a pretext to launch into someone. Some of these individuals think that they use their anger as a strategic tool to get what they want. At the middle level are the people who are also constantly angry but suppress it enough to be able to function in society. They use passive aggressive behavior, cynicism and excessive critical analysis to manifest their pent-up anger. Finally, the remaining people are happy people who occasionally get angry for believing that someone is preventing them from acquiring something that will make them happy or that someone is responsible for their current unhappiness. These are the people who do not hold grudges and shortly return to their pleasant state. Each individual should self-realize their own situation, and only then will their evolution to the Akrodha state begin.
The following are some of the techniques suggested by learned people: 1. Understand that regardless of the currently perceived imperfection, as a whole, the Universe is perfect. 2. Imagine yourself bathed with blue light, contrasting the red aura surrounding angry people. 3. Put a $5 bill in an anger management jar every time you get angry, which is aimed at building subconscious association of anger with loss of something precious. 4. Miss a meal after an anger outburst. 5. Offer one flower a day to the picture of the person who is the target of your anger, thereby completely reversing the emotional process. 6. Do three nice things to that person, with or without the knowledge of the target person. Over time the anger becomes a conscious process, which then you can control and voluntarily discard.
Now we have all the gear, terrain charts and know-hows to reach the goal of Akrodha. By realizing my own anger issues, and deciding to do something about it, I may already have begun my odyssey. Few fortunate people are very close to this goal, while many will never feel the need to start. Let’s pray that all of us who want to, will reach there.
Dr. Mandar Pattekar is director of computed tomography at Specialists in Medical Imaging and a member of Peoria’s Hindu community.