This is the 1stin a three-part series on anger and forgiveness. In the ancient Vedic scriptures and yogic texts, anger was categorized as one of the three gates to hell. The more we experience anger, either as a perpetrator or victim of anger, the more hellish our life becomes.

Anger is all too often used as a tool to ‘get what we want’ or to vent frustration. But it doesn’t work really, nor does it make one’s life better. There is no upside to anger. It simply causes a breakdown in relationships (and we all need relationships to live a balanced and healthy life.)

The most damaging effect of anger is that it can only exist in the space where we are blind to all spiritual thought and awareness. In a moment of anger there is zero awareness of ourselves as spiritual beings (temporarily residing within a material body) and zero awareness or the soul or spiritual being of others. In this state we cannot feel empathy for the ‘others’ we heap our anger upon. This anger often grows into hate – the child of anger.

Just one moment of rage can create havoc, irreparable harm and cause you to do or say something you will regret the rest of your whole life. Our prisons are a testament to this reality.

The ancient yogis teach that another person or a situation does not actually CAUSE your anger. Anger resides within the heart and is just one of the possible responses we could have to something or someone. It grows within the heart as the result of wrong living. As it grows, it becomes difficult to control and begins to exert a significant amount of control over us.

The Bhagavad-gita describes the cause and effect of anger:
‘While contemplating on the objects of the senses, one develops attachment to them. Attachment leads to intense desire (lust), and from such intense desire, arises anger.’ – Bhagavad-gita 2.62

‘From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.’ – Bhagavad-gita 2: 63

Spiritual vision will result in a feeling of empathy for others and grant us greater control over our mind and emotions. There is a famous Upanishadic verse that states:
‘He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Soul, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Soul within everything never hates anything or any being.’ – Sri Isopanisad Text 6