Excerpts from the writings of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda
Absence of wrath is the quickest way to peace of mind. Anger is caused by the obstruction of one’s desires….One who does not expect anything from others but who looks to God for all fulfilments cannot feel wrath toward his fellow men or disappointment in them. A sage is content in the knowledge that the Lord is running the universe….He is free from rage, animosity, and resentment.
Anger defeats the very purpose for which it is aroused. Anger is not an antidote for anger. A strong wrath may cause another to suppress his weaker wrath, but it will never kill that weaker wrath. When you are angry, say nothing. Knowing it is a disease, like the coming of a cold, break it up by mental warm baths consisting of thinking of those with whom you can never be angry, no matter how they behave. If your emotion is too violent, take a cold shower, or put a piece of ice on the medulla oblongata and the temples just above the ears, and on the forehead, especially between the eyebrows, and on the top of the head.
Anger gives birth to jealousy, hatred, spite, revengefulness, destructive instinct, wild ideas, brain paralysis, and temporary insanity — any of which may lead to terrible crimes. It is poison to peace and calmness. It is poison to understanding. Anger is a manner of misunderstanding. To conquer others by anger is the method of fools, for anger only rouses more wrath in the enemy and thus makes him a stronger and more powerful opponent. A righteous demonstration of anger to avert evil without causing harm is sometimes productive of good. Blind, uncontrolled anger is revengeful, spiteful; it only increases the evil that you wish to destroy. Be indifferent to those who seem to enjoy making you angry.
When anger comes, set your machinery of calmness in motion to manufacture the antidotes of peace, love, and forgiveness which banish anger. Think of love, and reflect that even as you do not want others to be angry with you, neither do you wish others to feel your ugly anger. When you become Christ-like and look upon all humanity as little brothers hurting one another (“for they know not what they do”), you cannot feel angry with anyone. Ignorance is the mother of all anger.
Develop metaphysical reason and destroy anger. Look upon the anger-arousing agent as a child of God; think of him as a little five-year-old baby brother who perhaps has unwittingly stabbed you. You should not feel a desire to stab this little brother in return. Mentally destroy anger by saying: “I will not poison my peace with anger; I will not disturb my habitual joy-giving calmness with wrath.”
There are roughly two kinds of people: those who continually lament what is wrong with the world, and those who smile away life’s difficulties and remain always positive in their thinking. Why take everything so seriously? How wonderful this world would be if everyone were more positive, more harmonious!
In the jungle of civilization, in the stress of modern living, lies the test. Whatever you give out will come back to you. Hate, and you will receive hate in return. When you fill yourself with inharmonious thoughts and emotions, you are destroying yourself. Why hate or be angry with anyone? Love your enemies. Why stew in the heat of anger? If you become riled, get over it at once. Take a walk, count to ten or fifteen, or divert your mind to something pleasant. Let go of the desire to retaliate. When you are angry your brain is overheating, your heart is having valve trouble, your whole body is being devitalized. Exude peace and goodness; because that is the nature of the image of God within you — your true nature. Then no one can disturb you.
When you want to create a good habit or destroy a bad one, concentrate on the brain cells, the storehouse of the mechanisms of habits. To create a good habit, meditate; and then with the concentration fixed at the Christ centre the centre of will between the eyebrows, deeply affirm the good habit that you want to install. And when you want to destroy bad habits, concentrate at the Christ centre and deeply affirm that all the grooves of bad habits are being erased.
I will tell you a true story of the effectiveness of this technique. In India, a man who had a bad temper came to me. He was a specialist in slapping his bosses when he lost his temper, so he also lost one job after another. He would become so uncontrollably irate that he would throw at whoever bothered him anything that was handy. He asked me for help. I told him, “The next time you get angry, count to one hundred before you act.” He tried it, but came back to me and said, “I get more angry when I do that. While I am counting, I am blind with rage for having to wait so long.” His case looked hopeless.
Then I told him to practice Kriya Yoga, with this further instruction: “After practising your Kriya, think that the divine Light is going into your brain, soothing it, calming your nerves, calming your emotions, wiping away all anger. And one day your temper tantrums will be gone.” Not long after that, he came to me again, and this time he said, “I am free from the habit of anger. I am so thankful.”
“Today I forgive all those who have ever offended me. I give my love to all thirsty hearts, both to those who love me and those who do not love me.”
I decided to test him. I arranged for some boys to pick a quarrel with him. I hid myself in the park along the route where he used to pass regularly, so that I could observe. The boys tried again and again to goad him into a fight, but he wouldn’t respond. He kept his calmness.