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, then, 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 in fact becoming a slave to the ‘I’. 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 be able to experience happiness in life.
We may be able to guide a person who is blind. However, if we become blinded by the ego, nobody will be able to guide us. Such is the darkness created by ego. Because of ego, we will remain asleep even while awake. But when we transcend ego, we will be an offering to the world. When we are able to behold God in others, humility will naturally dawn on us. More than anything else, humility will help us remove the ego.
One who thinks, “I am not the master, but only a servant,” becomes lord of the empire of love. Anger arises from the attitude of ‘I’. When anger arises, we should neither suppress it nor give vent to it. Suppressing anger will harm us; it will smolder within like burning paddy husk, causing a lot of tension and eventually leading to disease. Our actions will also reflect our anger. On the other hand, 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, we should overcome anger. It is a sign of weakness.
We should not act impulsively when we are angry. We should be patient. For example, before sending an angry letter, we should read it over and over again, several times, and revise it, if necessary. That way we can avoid using many harsh words arising from anger. After the initial flare-up, we will be able to discriminate and realise many of our mistakes. We will be able to behold our own thoughts as clearly as we see our reflection in the mirror. Then we will realise the pettiness of our anger and the greatness of forgiving.
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 administering treatment will only aggravate the wound and prolong the pain caused by it. Anger is like a sore in the mind. We should first try to heal that sore. Like a witness, we should try to observe the thoughts arising in our mind when we get angry. If we pursue our impulses instead, they will soon get translated into words and deeds, and land us in trouble. Anger does more harm to the one who is angry than to the one who is the object of that anger.
When anger arises, we should neither suppress it nor give vent to it, but try to quieten the mind and think discriminatingly. Then we will be able to avoid most of the problems that we usually suffer on account of anger.
The writer is a world-renowned spiritual leader