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Is anger really the problem? || Acharya Prashant (2017)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
12 min
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Question: “How to overcome impulsive feelings, like anger, and how to increase tolerance?”.

Acharya Prashant: Why do you want to overcome anger? Why do you want to overcome anger?

L: Because you are insufficient and you feel incomplete.

AP: That looks like an academic explanation. When you say you don’t want anger, why don’t you want it?

L: That is not my nature.

AP: Is that so? After, a bout of anger, after an upsurge of anger, after a violent episode of anger, you say, “I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have been angry.” Why exactly do you say that? Go into it. Go into such moments when this might have happened. Why do you regret being angry?

L: Because it caused me a certain loss.

AP: Right. You did something in that moment which caused you loss. Right? So, there are the twenty-four hours of the day, and in half an hour of anger, you did something that impacted the remaining twenty-three and a half hours. Correct? Your reputation got spoiled, or a relationship got hurt, or you broke something, or you took a bad decision. All of which impacts the remaining twenty-three and a half hours. Right?

So, is it really anger that we want to do away with? We want to eliminate the adverse effects of anger on the remainder of our life. If we could have anger without any side effects, how about that? Exciting? If we could have anger without any consequences, any payoffs, how would that be? So, you are then entitled to feel heroic. You shouted at someone or you slapped someone, and there are no repercussions. Great.

It is the repercussions that wean us away from anger, don’t they? What if the results of anger are beneficial to you? Would you still want to do away with anger? It is the results that compel us to think about anger. Right? So, see what we are doing. It is not that half an hour episode of anger that we are so worried about. We are worried about maintaining the continuity of the remaining twenty-three and a half hours. They should not be impacted.

When anger starts impacting those twenty-three and a half hours, then we say anger is undesirable. Right? So, we want to protect our lives in general. We want to let our life remain as it is. Anger affects our life. Anger disturbs it, shakes it up. We don’t want that shake-up. There is a small disconnect here. The disconnect is, you want to preserve your twenty-three and a half hours, but that remaining half an hour is an output of your twenty-three and a half hours.

You are saying, you don’t want that half an hour because that half an hour spoils the other twenty-three and a half hours. So, you want to surgically remove that half an hour from your schedule. That twenty-three and a half hours, those hours are leading to that half an hour of eruption. Don’t you see that?

You are asking me what to do with that half an hour? I am asking you, what do you do in your remaining twenty-three and a half hours? What you do in your twenty-three hours is leading to the eruption in the twenty-fourth hour. All the suppression, all the desires, all the frustration, all the defeats, they are bound to show up. They are bound to somehow express themselves, and that is why we explode.

But we don’t want to look at twenty-three hours, we want to talk about only that one hour in which the explosion took place. We don’t want the explosion, but we want everything else that leads to the explosion. Is that possible? Please, is that possible? If you want to get rid of anger, you will have to change everything that shows up in the moment of your anger.

Six hours before you erupted, you felt bad when scolded by somebody. You will have to change that. Six years before you erupted, somebody had duped you of your money and you had taken it very badly. You will have to change that. You’ll have to change a lot. Anger is not an isolated incident. Are you getting it?

Now, the point when we come to this is the point where many people stop listening. It’s the end of the road for them. They say, “We had come to you with a limited problem and give us a limited solution. We came to you to expose our little finger, but you are demanding to look at the entire body. And not only the skin, you also want an ECG done, you also want a liver report. You are saying that to treat the little finger, you require the diagnostics of the entire system. We are not prepared to do that. We want limited solutions.”

Now, limited solutions cannot be there because you are an organic entity in which everything is interrelated. Are you getting it?

If anger besets you, look at your entire life, the full spectrum. Nothing short of that would do. Anger is not a disease in itself. Anger is an indicator. And, anger is a very powerful and gross indicator. Anger becomes necessary so that you may see how bad your condition is. Subtle signs of discomfort and bad living are always there, but one misses those signs. Because you miss those signs or ignore them, hence your system has to forcibly show you that there is something wrong with you, hence you erupt.

When you erupt then you cannot miss what is happening with you. It is so violent, so loud, so apparent. You might get slapped. How will you miss the marks on your face? Something this gross has to be done because you are not ready to read the fine print, the subtle message. Are you getting it?

Anger is a message. Anger is not a message that the twenty-fourth hour is misplaced, or infected. Anger is a message that the entire spectrum of twenty-four hours is going wrong. You are not living rightly. You are just not living rightly. If there is sugar in your urine, do you start treating the urine? You are not eating rightly. The malaise lies elsewhere. Don’t take a canister of urine to the ICU. The urine is merely an indicator. You are living wrongly.

What is it to live wrongly? There cannot be anger without the frustration of desire. You cannot be angry if your desire has not been defeated. Anger is an upsurge of energy. Do you see what happens when you are angry? What happens? There is a rush of adrenaline. Your limbs start shaking with energy. Your eyes lit up. Your cheeks get flushed with blood. You are all ready with more energy to do something. Do what? Have you never noticed?

It’s like this you have a desire to reach there and there is an obstacle in the way. Now you are angry, now there is so much of energy and it is needed to overcome the obstacle. That is why anger provides you with so much energy, so that you may defeat the obstacle and fulfill your desire. Where there is frustration of desire there is anger. Do you get it? Whenever you would place your desire outside of you, you would find that there is an obstacle.

Do you know what is that obstacle? That obstacle is yourself. All anger in some way therefore is against yourself, and hence is self-destructive. Are you getting it?

Place a desire outside of yourself, feel incomplete and tell yourself that that thing there will plug the hole, and you have invited frustration. You expected something from somebody. That something the somebody cannot provide. What do you think you are angry only at that somebody? No, you are equally angry at yourself for keeping that expectation. And that is why you burn when you are in anger. Because you are punishing yourself, you are telling yourself why the hell did I expect this from this fellow.

Often it happens that the fellow never even asked for your expectations. You in your own wonderland assumed that you are entitled to expect. And when the expectation wasn’t met you are up in flames. Whom, are you punishing? Yourself. And that is why anger leads to so many mental and physical disorders. It is fulfilling its purpose. You are punishing yourself. The surge in your energy is eating you up. Are you getting it?

Do you see how incompleteness leads to anger? Because I am incomplete, so I’m looking at that one as the one who could complete me, as the one who would plug the hole. Now that one cannot plug the hole, because the hole is a fiction. I’m assuming that here, right now here, there is a hole in the earth. And I bring that bottle to fill that hole up. Will I succeed?

L: No.

AP: Why? Because there is no hole. And what do I do then? I want to destroy the bottle and how do I destroy the bottle? By banging it against my own forehead. Now, what is anger doing? First of all, it is arising because of a misplaced assumption. You are trying to fill a hole that never exists. Then apparently you are trying to punish the other one for his apparent failure. He has not failed at all. You are demanding the impossible from him. You’re demanding that the bottle must fill up a non-existent hole. What has the poor bottle done? The bottle could have never succeeded, but you still want to punish it. And how do you punish the bottle? By banging against your own forehead.

So, I do not know whether the bottle gets punished but surely you get punished. That’s what anger is all about. In some sense anger does justice. Because you made the wrong assumption so you get punished. Some other fellow, by the way, also gets sucked in, and he keeps wondering what wrong have I done? You had your whole expectations in your own dreamland. I never asked you to raise those expectations. You never asked from me whether you should hold those expectations from me. Now that those expectations are not being fulfilled, you are blaming me. What are you doing? You are banging me against your own head. That is anger. Do you get it?

If you are alright with yourself, then this, that we just talked of cannot happen. Now, this cannot happen. Something else can still happen. If anger is resentment to how things are, then that resentment can come from another center. The center that we just talked of was the center of a hollow. The hollow is within and I want to plug it using something from outside.

There is another center from where resentment can arise. The resentment is when you see that the other person is carrying an unnecessary hollow. Then too you resent it. But now you’re not resenting it because you have a hollow. Now you are resenting it because the other one has a hollow.

Superficially, the two types of anger may carry some common characteristics. There would be an upsurge of energy in both the cases. Because even when you have to do something with the other person, the other person’s hollow, then too you require energy. So energy will arise. But it must not be confused with the normal prevalent kind of anger. It is something else. Are you getting it?

This energy is an energy that destroys creatively. This energy rises not to smash your own head, but to destroy all that which is unnecessary rubbish, all that which leads to the misery of mankind. But such anger is rare. We must not even talk too much of it otherwise it can become an invitation to label your own petty anger more piously. Getting it?

Somebody once asked Osho about Krishnamurti. The questioner wondered that why Krishnamurti seems to get irritated and annoyed. Osho’s reply was that because he loves. It is from his compassion that his anger arises. But that’s for a Krishnamurti.

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