Anger is born of desire and desire arises from thoughts. Therefore, thoughts alone are responsible for both desire and anger. Just as you cannot get cloth without thread and thread without cotton, you cannot get anger without desire and desire without thoughts.
In the Gita, the divine teacher has termed desire and anger as fire. There is danger of being harmed by fire even when it is some distance from you. When this is true for a fire that is burning outside then how much more careful you must be when the fire is burning fiercely in your own heart. This fire of desire and anger has an extraordinary capacity to destroy all your human qualities and to suppress the divine nature within you, leaving only the demonic qualities raging inside.
Most things in the world have prescribed limits but the fire of desire and anger is limitless in its hunger. Whatever fuel you give to fire, whether it be wood, oil, or anything else, it will never have enough. But even the most destructive fire eventually burns itself out and becomes extinguished when it uses up its fuel, whereas this fire of desire and anger knows no such limitation. It has a voracious appetite that is endless. It will not exhaust itself. It cannot be appeased. It will never be satisfied. This fire of desire and anger has no contentment at all.
That being its nature, is there any way to control it? The Lord declared in the Gita, "You can conquer anger through love and you can conquer desire through renunciation and sacrifice." Where there is love there can be no anger. If you develop your love, then there will be no room left in your heart for hatred and anger to take root. The heart is like a chair, there is room for only one occupant at a time. Therefore, only one quality can establish itself there. It leaves no place for another to enter and occupy it at the same time. You must make every effort to establish love and only love in your heart. You must never allow your heart to become like a 'musical chair', giving room for love at one time and for anger and hatred at other times.
If you want to conquer anger through your love then you must develop your love in a most magnificent way. Love is always prepared to shower itself freely and to overlook the defects and weaknesses in others. Love has this extraordinary quality, it lives by giving and forgiving, whereas the little ego-self lives by getting and forgetting. Where there is love there can be no room for selfishness, and where there is selfishness there will be no love.
There is absolutely nothing in the world which you cannot achieve when you shine with this principle of love. With love you can conquer all obstacles. Therefore, to achieve total victory over anger you have to fill your heart with love and make love the dominant force in your life. Once you recognize that the indweller of your heart is the indweller of every heart, that the beloved Lord whom you worship seated on the throne of your heart is also dwelling in every other heart, then there can be no possibility of hating or being angry with any person in the world. When the same Lord is in every heart how can you look down with contempt at another? Therefore, immerse yourself fully in this principle of love and establish it indelibly in your heart.
As has been mentioned before by Baba, when love is associated with thoughts, it becomes truth; when love is introduced into your activities, your actions become righteous; when your feelings are saturated with love, your heart is filled with supreme peace; and when you allow love to guide your understanding and reasoning, then your intelligence becomes saturated with a deep respect and caring for all life, and you manifest the quality of nonviolence. Therefore, love is truth, love is right action, love is peace, love is nonviolence. For all these noble human qualities love is the undercurrent. If your thoughts are not filled with love, there will be no truth. If there is no love in your actions, righteousness will not be present. If you do not feel love in your heart, there will be no peace. And if you do not base your understanding on love, nonviolence will not establish itself in your intellect.
So, just as sugar is the basis of all different kinds of sweets, so also love is the basic ingredient for truth, righteousness, peace and nonviolence. Love is the divinity itself. Love is God and God is love. Love is the divine power that activates everything. Through love you can easily conquer hatred and anger. Therefore, always live in love.
Anger can be the source of numerous difficulties and expose you to countless problems. It destroys your dignity and undermines the principle of humanness that exists within you. Anger first enters in a very subtle form and gradually becomes all-pervasive. Initially, when it comes in, it will only ask for a small bit of space. "Just give me a little room to sit down in," it says. Once it has established itself, it declares, "Now, I'll make myself enough space to lie down and stay." But you must not permit even the least room in your heart for such bad traits. Once you let anger in, it will be impossible to get rid of it. Even if you make friends with it and give it all your wealth it will not leave you. It is a most dangerous poison which should not be given even the least space to get a foothold within you.
In a car the red tail-light goes on as a warning before the car comes to a stop. In the same way, before you explode into anger, your eyes become red, your lips begin to quiver and the whole body becomes hot. The moment you start having any of these symptoms, you had best leave the place you are in immediately and go to a solitary spot and sit there until peace returns. As was mentioned yesterday, you can also take a cold-water bath.
Once anger expresses itself in words it may lead to endless complications and problems later on. Even if your anger is justifiable and you are protecting the truth, you will still have to learn how to express that truth in a sweet way, in a dear way, in an acceptable way that would be received by the other person without hurting him in any way. Therefore, every devotee must learn to control his anger by developing and saturating his heart with love.
Next, let us consider how to deal with desire. To conquer desire you have to develop a sacrificing nature; you must be steeped in renunciation. Renunciation does not mean that you give up your family and go to the forest; nor does it require you to give up all your property. Once you realize the defects in any object, once you recognize its transitoriness and worthlessness in helping you to reach your goal, you will automatically stop desiring it.
Even when living the life of a householder immersed in the world, you can recognize the defects and weaknesses of the things of the world. For example, there may be a certain kind of food that you enjoy very much, like a curry, for example, and you ask your cook to prepare a variety of dishes made with this curry. You sit down to eat, the meal is brought in and you are about to eat it with great relish. But then the cook comes running in and says, "Stop! Please sir, don't eat this food! I just discovered a poisonous lizard has fallen into the pot and is dead inside!" The moment you hear this and recognize the harmful nature of the food you were about to eat, you would under no circumstances consider eating it anymore, no matter how much you previously cherished that dish and looked forward to having it.
In the same way, you have to recognize the nature of the things of the world. They are ever changing and some day they must cease to exist. Once you know this, how can you remain enthusiastic about acquiring them and trying to get lasting enjoyment from them? Food is only medicine for the disease called hunger. How can it ever be an item of luxurious indulgence? When you are sick and medicines are given, do you refuse them if they are not tasty? Therefore, recognize the fact that the things you use in the world are only medicines for the diseases that you have.
As the disease declines, the need for medicine diminishes. When you are well you do not need to take any medicines at all; but when you are sick you must take the right medicine which will cure you of your illness. You cannot refuse to take the medicine just because it is not very tasty, while at the same time hoping to get cured. Now you are running after all sorts of attractive and tasty things which instead of curing your ills worsen them. You rejoice that you have discovered so many delights in the world and that you are living a very happy life, enjoying many things which seem to give you a lot of comfort and joy. But these are not real enjoyments, for, in the future, you will surely have to face the consequences of all these indulgences you are engaging in now.
Consider a giant tree which has a number of branches heaped with flowers and fruits. It is a very grand and attractive tree. One day, this tree begins to dry up and its flowers fall off. Is it because there is a shortage of water or manure? Has there been some neglect in feeding it? No, there is some kind of pest that has attacked its roots and is destroying this beautiful tree. Through the roots the pest enters and starts to eat up this giant tree. In the same way, once you allow these pests of desire and hatred to enter your heart, then one day you will quite suddenly come to ruin. This is absolutely certain.
In the material world you think that a rich man is a very important individual, but in the world of the spirit, material wealth is of no consequence. Charity is a quality that is much greater than all the possessions associated with wealth. If there is no charity, wealth has no intrinsic value at all. You have four heirs, each of whom will enter a claim to your wealth. The first is charity. The second is the government. The third is the thief. And the fourth is fire. Each of them expects to inherit your wealth, but if you were to hand over all your wealth to your first heir, charity, then the others will get no share of it. When you give freely to charity, you will find that the other claimants will show great respect for your decision and will not press their own claims.
For example, we know that the government gives you an income-tax exemption when you donate to charity. Even fire will be a little frightened of you, and thieves will leave you alone. So, when you give to charity, which may be considered your oldest son and your natural heir, then the others who would otherwise try to claim your wealth will respect your action and not interfere. But if you possess wealth and do not give it in charity, then the thief will have his eye on you and the government will also try to catch hold of you and claim your riches as its own. If these two for some reason choose to ignore you, then fire will come one day and destroy your possessions.
The Gita has declared that it is charity, not wealth, which is really important. In a similar way, in human beings, it is not the ability to speak well but the truth which is uttered, that is important. If there is no truth in your speech, then whatever you say will have no value at all. The Gita has also declared that it is not life itself but a good character that is important. A life devoid of good character is useless. You have to develop your character and earn a good name so that all the noble human qualities will shine forth in you.
Your most important duty is to harbor good thoughts, to have good behavior, to speak good words and to lead a good life. You must be very careful with your words and actions so that you will never earn a bad name. Instead of living the life of a crow for a hundred years scavenging off others, it is far better to live a few moments as a swan, with an untainted name and an unblemished character. The Gita extols such a sterling soul whose life is replete with goodness.
Good actions are far more important than physical strength. A body that is not being used to serve others is nothing but a dead body. Use your body in the service of mankind, not just for the purpose of catering to your own selfish needs. Today, whatever man does, thinks or utters is primarily prompted by selfishness. In order to overcome this tendency, you have to constantly seek opportunities to help others and develop the principle of service. In this process, by your good actions, all of humanity will get sanctified. It is very difficult to obtain birth as a human being. You must spend some time thinking over how to properly utilize this rare life that has been given to you and develop good habits which will overcome these weaknesses of desire and anger that waste your golden chance.
How do you best overcome the deeply ingrained bad habits and replace them with good habits? Consider a small example.
One day a beautiful dog happens to come to your house; you do not know to whom it belongs. It is such an attractive thing, in order to keep it there for some time and enjoy its presence, you give it a little food. Next day it comes about the same time, and again you feed it and enjoy having it visit you. In this way it comes back every day to get fed, and gradually over a period of time, attachment increases and this dog now regularly visits your house, spending more and more time there. One day you find that it will no longer leave; it just continues to live at your house from that time on.
But the happiness that you enjoy in looking at physical beauty does not last very long. Once the beauty is no longer accompanied by joy, it becomes obnoxious to you. In the case of this dog, you soon get tired of having it around all the time, and so you look for a way to get rid of it.
To begin with you must ask yourself why that dog has attached itself to you and is now living in the house. The reason is that right from the very beginning you have been feeding it regularly every day; you have also been stroking it, playing with it, and paying so much attention to it. It is this repeated daily practice which has created the attachment between yourself and the dog. Now you must develop a new regular practice, which will break this attachment and help you to get rid of the dog. For this the best method is to reverse the original process that created the attachment and made the object so dear to you.
In the case of the dog, if no food is given for some days and everyone is indifferent to it, paying no attention to it whatsoever, then soon, of its own accord, the dog will go away. Therefore, it is the practice that is important. It is through practice that you have developed certain attachments and undesirable qualities, and it is through practice that you can change them. The Gita has said that for everything practice is the starting point. In the 12th verse of the chapter on devotion, it says, "Through practice you will be able to get knowledge, through knowledge you will be able to develop meditation, through meditation you will develop sacrifice, and only when you have sacrifice will you obtain peace of mind." Therefore, it all starts with steady practice.
For many births, you have been enamored with beauty and you have engaged yourself in desire and anger until these passions have struck deep roots in your heart. Now you have become a slave of your desires. Mere words will not be enough to get rid of them. After having practiced attachment for so long, these negative qualities have developed such strong roots, that even if you were to cut them off at the surface, they would sprout up again and again. When desires have become an integral part of you, it is only by reversing the process and practicing detachment and renunciation that you will be able to get rid of these deeply ingrained pests.
In the beginning, desires are extremely attractive and sweet. After some time you develop a disgust for them; but then it is already quite difficult, in fact, almost impossible to get rid of them. Therefore, it is best if right from the very beginning you develop renunciation and detachment as part of your nature and give no place or importance to desires. Unless you have such an attitude of sacrifice and a capacity to resist desires, you will not be ready to receive the grace of God.
A bullock or a horse which cannot be controlled, a car without brakes, or a life which is not based on control of the senses, are all dangerous. Control of the senses is very important. You need to tightly control the tendencies of the mind to go off in all directions, running after desires. Mind and senses must be kept in check within limited bounds. Even happiness which exceeds certain limits can be harmful. For everything there is a limit, there is a range of healthy functioning.
The normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit; if it goes up even one degree there will be a disease in progress. Only when it is within the appropriate level does it indicate a healthy body. In the same way, your blood pressure is normal when it is 120 over 80. If the blood pressure goes up to 150 over 90 it indicates an abnormal condition in the body, which may be indicative of an illness. Similarly, the heart beat should be around 75; if it increases an ailment will be in progress.
The same is also true for your senses. There is a range of light that is appropriate to healthy functioning of the eyes. If the light is too bright the eyes cannot see and will be harmed. This is true, as well, in the case of the ears; there is a proper range of sound. If the level of sound exceeds that range, such as may happen close to an airplane, a train or a loudspeaker, the hearing will become impaired. Like this, all the senses are limited to a normal range of operation.
We see that life functions a lot like a limited company in the business world. If you want to carry on unlimited business with this limited company then you will be subject to a great deal of distress. Therefore, you have to impose restrictions on your behavior, and spend your life acting always within certain prescribed limits. This can also be called discipline. Discipline is particularly necessary for the spiritual progress of an individual. Without discipline a person is likely to become nothing but an animal. But discipline, too, has to be exercised within limits. There is even a need to regulate your discipline if you are to enjoy life. You see that for everything there is a limit and a boundary. If you stay within these limits you will not be troubled by life.
The Gita has taught that desire and anger are the primary obstacles to liberation, so it is vitally important that they be curbed. You need to take proper notice of these two dreadful enemies of man and develop complete control over them. These enemies are not external to you; they are your inner enemies. If you are defeated by your inner enemies, how can you ever hope to conquer your external ones? Once you keep desire and anger under firm check you will be able to defeat your outer enemies quite easily. The Gita has shown that the way to conquer desire and anger is by saturating your life with renunciation, sacrifice and love.
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