This is a supplement to Ragacha Avirbhav. Anger is epidemic, no one seems immune to it. the violent outbursts take place in remote villages, crowded cities, and even at idyllic vacation spots as well. Everyone everywhere seems to be hotter these days. It is a mad mad world: time, technology and tension appear to be the culprits. Americans work longer hours than anyone else in the world. The cell phones and pagers do not make our lives easier; on the other hand, they have put us on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. We are always running, we are tense and we are very low in patience. The less patience we have the less we monitor what we say to people and how we treat them.
There are more os us than ever, all wanting the same space, the same goods, the same services and attention. Everyone thinks. Me first! I do not have time to be polite. It appears that we have lost our civility and tolerance for inconvenience.
Life has become complex. I rely on computers that crash, drive on roads which get congested, when I place calls I have to talk to machines the put me on endless hold. These are the things which make me feel that I do not have control of my life. The sense of helplessness triggers the rage. There is a misconception that anger is the psychological equivalent of the steam in the pressure cooker that needs to be released or it will explode. Research has shown that this is not true. Angry people who might think that they are relieving their anger by screaming, swearing, hitting, kicking, throwing things in fury, they become more enraged. Temper tantrums damage physical health as well as psychological peace.
I need to figure out what really makes me angry. I monitor myself for the early signs of exhaustion and/or overload. Stress makes me vulnerable to over-reacting. When I feel myself getting angry I control my tongue and brain. Like any other feeling, anger lasts only about three seconds; what keeps it going is my negative thinking. As long as I focus on who or what irritated me – like an idiotic child who rammed the grocery cart into my heels – I will stay angry. Once I came to understand that I am driving my own anger with my thoughts I can stop it.
The way I handle the angry person is I act as if I am watching someone elses two-year old having a temper tantrum at the supermarket. I stay calm. If I let loose my emotions they only add fuel to the fury. I talk slowly and quietly to let the angry person know that I do understand that he/she is angry. I refuse to engage here. I do step back, retreat further if needs be until the angry person is back in control.
Anger has become an epidemic in our society as Bal Thanedar so astutely points out. The frenetic pace of modern life and the excessive demands it makes on people, who cannot escape the pressures placed upon them as they did in times past when communications were not so instantaneous and not so much was demanded of everyone, has made rage – including road rage as we all sit in traffic jams fuming that we cannot get from A to B in a reasonable amount of time – endemic in our society.
Yet, as Bal also so clearly points out, the solution is also in our own hands. As he righty points out, all emotions pass away in a matter of seconds. So the solution is to hang tight until our reactive angry emotions pass, and then we can put everything into perspective. So next time you feel consumed by anger, acknowledge and allow the angry feelings, yet refrain from acting on them because you know these feelings will pass and you can regain mastery over your emotions and allow your own intrinsic good nature to prevail.
If you just remain aware of the negative emotion but do not allow it to trigger some unfortunate angry reaction that you will later come to regret, then you are the master and not the slave of your emotional life. Mastery of your emotions allows you to achieve mastery over your mental reactions, and to live life at peace and in tranquillity in the calm steady eye of the storm, unaffected and serene as the quiet observer of the mayhem around you, and yet untouched by it. Become the observer of your own life through meditation, and watch the currents and waves go by as you sit quietly unaffected by the swirling of the waters.
These currents and waves are maya or illusion, and they obscure the true reality that is you, which you will only see when you allow the surging waves and ceaseless motion of the ocean to subside into stillness.