Today, I felt anger growing inside me that I haven’t felt in many years – an anger that made me want to yell, a desire to curse, and a desire to walk away. I woke up feeling no patience, a lack of sleep, and diving into the unknown with my current work. As many issues came up from the weekend and today, anger almost got the best of me.
it leads me to wonder how quickly anger can grow. Just as how bamboo can grow 4 inches a day, anger can grow just as fast, if not faster, within us. Left unchecked even for a minute, anger can grow so fast in us that we may forget to cut it down. While there’s no escaping anger, anger creates energy in us that we can either use it to build flames of hate within us or build bridges and connect with other people.
The anger that grows within us doesn’t have to be used for negative reasons such as starting fires, get into yelling arguments, and so on. When we understand and see anger before we act on it, we can instead transform the anger into something more beneficial such as building bridges for happiness and love to grow.
While anger will always be part of us and will grow based on many reasons, many faiths and religions of the world have discussed how to transform anger into many different things and controlling anger.
“Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you.”
Bible, Old Testament, Proverbs 14:29
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
Bible, New Testament, Ephesians 4:31-32
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Cherokee Native American Tribe; A Tale of Two Wolves
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson though about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”
Hinduism, Bhagavad Gita 2.63
“From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost one is ruined.”
Islam, Quran 3:133-134
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend (in God’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon the people; verily, God loves the good-doers.”
Sikhism, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, ph. 1395
“In deep meditation, and the spiritual wisdom of the Guru, one’s essence merges with the essence of reality. In truth, the True Lord is recognized and realized, when one is lovingly attuned to Him, with one-pointed consciousness. Lust and anger are brought under control, when the breath does not fly around, wandering restlessly. Dwelling in the land of the Formless Lord, realizing the Hukam of His Command, His contemplative wisdom is attained.”
Many texts call anger a burning fire or a hot coal within us that must be put out and will only leave scars. While anger left unchecked can be fuel for fires within us for hate and destruction, anger can be used for more beneficial means. For example, Buddhist Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche gives a view that anger, at it’s roots, is love and compassion.
Just because you are angry does not mean you have to use the bamboo/wood to grow the flames of hate even higher, leaving ashes in its wake. Instead, it is flexible, pliable, and durable enough to be transformed into a bridge for love and happiness. Just as how real bamboo grows quickly and is used for textiles, roads, scaffolding, and what have you, anger within us can be used in the same way.
Anger, in my view, is not fuel for fire – it’s just another plant in the garden within us that we must learn how to use to better ourselves and everything around us.