The root cause of our problems is the ego, the attitude of “I” and “mine”. However, the ego does not have any objective existence; it is not something that we can “give” or “take”. If one asks, “Is there any way to get rid of the ego?” the answer is humility. Only through humility can we remove our ego. When one says or thinks, “I am the master,” one is becoming a slave to the “I”, that is, the ego.
The greatest obstacles to enjoying life are this attitude and self-centred thoughts. Because of this, we are unable to serve others, forgetting ourselves. Everybody thinks, “I must get everything. I want everything.” Unless we get rid of this attitude, we will not experience happiness. One who thinks, “I am not the master, but only a servant,” becomes lord of the empire of love. When we are able to behold God in others, humility will naturally dawn in us.
Anger arises from the attitude of “I”. When anger arises, we should neither suppress it nor give vent to it. Expressing anger without restraint will harm the world. That is why it is said that anger is like a double-edged sword: it harms both the person who gets angry and the subject of his or her anger. The wounds on our body may heal easily. But the wounds inflicted by cruel words uttered in anger will never heal. Therefore, instead of suppressing it or giving vent to it, we should overcome anger through discrimination. Anger is a sign of weakness.
Suppose, while standing in a crowd, a stone lands on us, causing a wound. Before rushing to find out who threw the stone, we should clean the wound and apply medicine to it. But if we first try to hunt down the culprit instead, the wound may become more susceptible to infection. Also, the person we apprehend may be innocent; or that person may have hurled the stone inadvertently. Suppose we manage to track down the culprit and deal with him or her appropriately, the delay in treatment will only aggravate the wound. Anger is like a sore in the mind. We should first try to heal that sore.
Amma is reminded of an incident relating to a bus conductor. The bus in which he was working used to halt daily at a particular stop. One day, a six-foot-tall, robustly built man boarded the bus at this stop. The conductor duly went up to him and held out his hand for the fare. The man simply said, “Keshavan Kutty needs no ticket”. On hearing this, the conductor gazed upon the man from head to foot, taking in his heavy-built physique. The conductor, who was lean and weak, was scared to ask for the fare again. He thought, “If this man lands a blow on me, I will certainly collapse!” So the conductor quietly went back to his corner. The same incident repeated itself the next day. Anger welled up within the conductor. “Some way or other,” he thought, “I have to teach this man some manners.” He lost all peace of mind. In the following days, this same man continued to travel without paying the fare; the conductor’s tension continued to mount. However, as days went by, he found it increasingly difficult to contain his anger. He even stopped talking to his wife and children. The sole thought in his mind was, “I must teach that man a lesson.”
Finally, he took a few days of leave from work. He sought out a good karate exponent and began practising karate under him. He also began learning other martial art forms. After rigorous and sustained practice, he felt that he had become fit enough to deal with that man. On the day that he resumed work, he saw the stout man again board the bus. Without wasting anytime, the conductor asked him for the fare. The man gave the same reply: “Keshavan Kutty needs no ticket.” The conductor retorted, “No! You should pay the fare. The bus will not leave until you pay up. Are you going to pay up now or not?” The other man said, “Cool down. Keshavan Kutty needs no ticket.” And he took out a pass from his pocket. The pass revealed that he was a high-ranking official and was entitled to travel on this bus without a ticket.
Who came off looking like a fool? How many days of leave the conductor wasted? How much money he squandered on martial-arts classes? How much pain and tension he suffered? How much he compromised the peace at home? Did he benefit in any way? No. Anger causes such serious losses. When anger arises, we should try to quieten the mind and think discriminatingly.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader