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What is anger? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2013)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Question: What is anger?

Speaker: Something happens and you get angry. We are looking at that event very, very closely. Something happens and you get angry. Let us give the whole thing a shape, a name, a face. Let us say that a stranger comes to you and says that you are stupid. And he says this in front of many people. On the other hand, a friend on whom you rely, a friend whom you trust, he comes to you in front of twenty people and says you are stupid. And you have great trust on that friend, great belief in that friend. When would you be angry? When are you likely to be angry? When are you likely to feel hurt? When the friend says this or when the stranger? The stranger is a nobody. You do not know him; just somebody. He has just come, said a few comments and gone. When are you likely to feel hurt?

Listeners (everyone): When a friend says this.

Speaker: When a friend says this. Right? Remember, both have uttered the same words. Both of them have said that you are stupid, and both of them have said this in the same situation, in front of twenty people. But when do you feel hurt? When your friend says that. Right? Now let’s go into it. Why do you feel hurt and therefore angry when your friend says this? Why do you feel hurt when your friend says this and why not when the stranger says this?

Listener 1: Because you have expectations from them.

Speaker: Yes, because you have expectations. See, had the reason of your anger been those words that you are stupid, had those words been the reason why you are angry, then you would have been equally angry at the friend and at the stranger as well. Right? So, words are not the reason. The reason is something else. What is the reason?

Listeners (everyone): Expectation.

Speaker: Expectations are the reason. You do not get angry at the event. You get angry at the expectations you have from him. Getting it? You do not get angry at anything other than your own expectations. When they are defeated, when they are frustrated, when your expectations are not fulfilled, that is the situation you call as ‘anger’. So, anger is the frustration of expectations. So if a fellow has a lot of expectations, what will happen to him? There will be chances of more and more…

Listeners (everyone): Anger.

Speaker: Anger. Whenever you feel angry you must see this very, very clearly that I am expecting something, and it is not happening and that is why I am feeling angry. Now, who gave you the right to expect? Why must you expect? And what is this business of expectation? Why do you think you have a right to expect something? You expectation is nothing but a desire that the other person should behave according to your image of him. You have an image of your friend. And because of that image you believe that he will behave in a particular way. When his behaviour is not according to that image, then you feel…

Listeners (everyone): Angry.

Speaker: Now, what is real? Is the behaviour real, or the image real?

Listeners (everyone): The behaviour.

Speaker: The behaviour is real. If the behaviour is not matching with the image, that means what was false?

Listeners (everyone): The image.

Speaker: The image was false. So who is stupid?

Listeners (everyone): We.

Speaker: You are stupid because you made a false image. Now you make a false image. That image is broken on coming in contact with reality. And then you get angry. Don’t you think it is stupid?

What am I doing? First of all I am making a false image. When that image gets dented, broken, when it comes in contact with reality, when that image gets broken, what do I do?

Listeners (everyone): I get Angry.

Speaker: Angry. Do you think it is intelligent of me? Look at the whole process what my mind is doing. First of all it creates images. Why must you create images? Why is it necessary to create images? You create images because you are afraid. You want security.

(Pointing at one of the listeners) You want to believe that this fellow is like this. So you have created an image of him. And you want to keep this image. Are you getting it? I have created an image of him and I think this image, or I rather wish that this image must continue to be like this. For example, my image is that he is reliable. Now when I say that he is reliable, my mind becomes secure. He is reliable. Now my mind can be peaceful. I can go to sleep. Are you getting it? This is just an image. Tomorrow he may prove to be unreliable. And then there will be anger.

So, fear leads to anger. Fear leads to creation of image. And when that image comes in contact with reality, then there is friction, the image gets broken. The breaking of this image is called…

Listeners (everyone): Anger.

Speaker: If you are not afraid, you cannot be angry. First of all you have to be afraid to be angry. The intelligent man lives in the moment. He does not live in images. Hence, there is no reason for him to get angry. He does not live in expectations. At the root of all anger lie expectations. The intelligent man does not live in expectations. He lives in the moment. So it is obvious that the man who gets angry and the rest of the things, obviously cannot be receptive, because he is afraid. When you are afraid you cannot hear. How would you be receptive? You asked that can he be joyful. No, he obviously can’t be joyful. You asked that can he be ego-free. Anger is fear. And fear is ego. How can he be ego free? All of these things are highly inter-related. Do you see this? Do you see how ego is fear?

How is ego fear? Ego comes from outside. This much you are sure of. Yes? What comes from outside can also go back to the outside? Somebody gave you respectability. He can also take it away. Somebody gave you a jacket. He can also take it away. Somebody gives you financial security. He can take it away. Somebody says that you are brilliant. He can stop saying that. He can start saying that you are stupid. Whatever comes from outside, can go back. Ego comes from the outside. So it is always afraid that something can be taken away from it. Do you see the relation between all these things? Do you see that all these diseases come from a basic source? The source is ignorance. The basic source, the seed from where all these things sprout is ignorance. What is ignorance?

Listener 2: Neglecting things around us.

Speaker: No, not neglecting, not at all. Ignorance means lack of attention. Lack of awareness, not understanding, living in beliefs, living in acceptance, that is ignorance. Once you get rid of that, you get rid of so many diseases. Fear, anger, expectations, insecurity, ambition, all these diseases, they go away once ignorance goes away, once inattention goes away. Yes! Alright.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

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