The ego awaits every opportunity to assert itself. It lists out many reasons for its greatness and demands that everyone recognizes how awesome it is. When someone fails to give public appreciation of its greatness and the magnificent deeds done by it, the ego reacts in anger and hits back verbally and at times physically too. It demands that everything happens the way it has charted out mentally. It requires all to bow down to it and be subjugated by it.
As long as man thinks he is the body and not the soul, the ego will always dominate his thoughts, words and deeds. Such a man will be subject to fits of anger, depression, rages and self inflicted pain. He will not be happy and will not permit others to be happy. He does not have awareness of the direction of his thoughts or how his thoughts translate into instant action for gratification of demands of ego. He has no common sense, discretion, understanding or compassion. He reacts and does not think and act. He is a ticking bomb waiting to be set off by the slightest kick to his ego. Only when there is awareness in him of what is going on, he can pause, think and act. One of the best cures for anger is meditation as it teaches us to be aware of our thoughts and mind.
Buddha and his monks visited villages for daily biksha or accepting offerings of food and having discussions with people about dharma. In many places, he was welcomed with love and respect and in some places with hatred and insults too. Let us look at this practical demonstration given by Buddha to some villagers on overcoming anger with awareness:
Buddha was passing through a village where the people were against him. They gathered around him and his monks and screamed ugly words and insults. Buddha heard it all smilingly. His chief disciple, Ananda was sad and angry that Buddha was being disrespected in this manner but could not say anything as Buddha stood there patiently and silently. After a while, the crowd got frustrated. Buddha would not respond in anger despite all their focused efforts!
Someone from the crowd yelled out: We have been insulting you so much. How come you do not react?
Buddha replied: You are ten years too late! If you wanted reaction, you should have come before I became a monk and I used to react to everything. Now I live in awareness. I see that you are angry as you do not understand my views or you do not like them. I see the fire burning in your mind. I feel compassion for you. Now supposing what I teach is wrong, I will pray the price for it and go to hell. But out of your great love for me, you have left all your work at home and fields and come to warn me. So I am thankful. Before I came here, I visited another village. A huge crowd came to visit me and they brought large quantities of sweets for me. I do not accept sweets and so I left them behind. So what do you think they did with those sweets?
Someone answered: That is easy. They would have distributed it among themselves and enjoyed it.
Buddha replied: I leave back the insults you have thrown at me in this village. What will you do then? I feel compassion for you. But I do not carry unnecessary and useless things with me.
Such a response is possible when we live in awareness of present. We are able to hear the words and angers of others and not react. Our mind will scream back insults but we can step back and look calmly at the other person and see the reason for his anger – pain, ignorance or lack of understanding. Our response will be one of love and compassion. People or situations are powerless to upset us without our reaction. Regular japa of SitaRam mantra, meditation and following the teachings of the Guru helps us in responding in the right way to anger and overcoming it.