Anger need not have lasting effect

The minds of the wise are not without movement and action, but they are without binding feelings, without fixed attitudes of `I’ and `mine’.

A man said to a teacher: “I do get angry, but only with good reason. After all, when Christ drove the money-changers from the Temple, he showed anger, and he was unquestionably right. When I get angry, it’s the same thing!”
The teacher took him outside on to the grass and gave him a big stone. He told him:

“Throw this stone on the ground with all your force.”

He flung the big stone down and it made a great dent in the ground. The teacher said:

“Now come back to me when that mark has gone.”

It took some weeks before the mark was gradually obliterated by the rains and by people and cattle walking over it.

Then the teacher said:

“This is like your anger. Now take up the stone again.”

They went to a still lake and the teacher asked him to throw the stone with all his strength into the water. It made a tremendous splash, and the ripples went to the edge of the lake. But in five minutes all was completely calm again.

The teacher said: “And that is the anger of a Christ. It is just a passing thing, just for this event, and it doesn’t do any damage. When you struck the ground with your stone, some little insects were killed, but all you have just done here was to disturb the water momentarily, and it was even good for the plants at the edge of the water.”

The man said: “You have told me that my anger remains, and has lasting effects. But still, at the moment of anger, it is the same as the anger of Christ, isn’t it?”

The teacher said: “It may seem so, but it is not really so. Here again we can take the example of water. Suppose a smoothly flowing stream, and suddenly it is dammed by a landslide or something similar. It piles up before the obstacle, it froths and swirls round as if in frustration; it looks angry, so to say. But then, it goes round, and soon creates a new channel round the obstacle, and is flowing smoothly as before.

There is no permanent mark; there is no fixed attitude.”
These things are meant to be meditated upon, and finally realized to some extent in daily life.

The Gita recommends us to act vigorously, but without anxious hope for results, without anger, without fear, and without fever.

Nor are these teachings meant for those living a quiet life: they are given to a warrior just before a battle.

© Trevor Leggett

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