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The DK Foundation

The Ten Commandments of Everyday Living 8

Do not meet anger with anger

Meeting anger with anger has all the wisdom of going towards a gas leak with a naked flame, and the resulting explosion is likely to be just as destructive.  What is likely to be destroyed is the opportunity to communicate.

Indeed, consciously or unconsciously, anger may be expressed in order to repel or sabotage the delivery of unwelcome or uncomfortable statements; but all too often the breakdown of communication is the unplanned but inevitable outcome of a heated exchange which is, by its nature, a poor opportunity for getting a point across.  We may like to think that we decimated the other person with the effectiveness of our delivery – this is part of the rhetoric of anger -  but if you have ever observed an exchange between  two angry  people you will see that  each is so focussed on what they are giving out, neither is capable of receiving what the other is saying.

The conscious person cannot afford to blow up lines of communication, whether they exist between different parts of himself or between himself and another, or between different groups of people, because he has to know, intellectually at first (if he cannot feel it) that the only sin is the heresy of separateness.  Without communication there is separation, isolation and alienation.

Anger serves the separated reality that feels threatened by different perceptions and values.  It expresses the emotional investment that we have in our own way of looking at life.

To feel anger is to be made aware that something to which we are emotionally attached has been transgressed.  That something may be precious to our spiritual identity or it may be precious to the egotistical self.  When it is precious to our spiritual identity we call it righteous anger.  The example of Jesus scouring the temple in Jerusalem is probably the most frequently cited example of righteous anger in Christian tradition.  Spiritually aware people are inclined to feel that righteous anger is more acceptable than other kinds of anger, or at least did so until Islamic extremists unleashed on the West their own form of  temple scouring.

Anger can be used to very good effect.  I can think of one teacher who could bring a whole community to a state of hyper awareness by ranting and raving at great length – hours on occasions -over collective misdemeanours and levels of inattention.  These explosions of rage were all part of the drama of community life, designed to stop people from falling asleep and to impress upon them what is important.  Emotion is a fixative, and disquiet aroused by the shouting helped to fix the message in the consciousness of his audience.  The teacher’s authority was such that no one challenged his right to shout, and he relied upon this.  His was therefore anger expressed in a controlled environment.  Army boot camps work on a similar principle: those in charge rely upon their authority holding up.

If in a volatile world we choose to make a point or wake someone up by a display of righteous anger, then the responsibility for that choice and for the timing of its delivery is ours.  But when it comes to meeting a display of righteous anger unleashed by someone else, then we no longer call the shots.  We just have to accept that someone got in the revolving door before us, and we have to let him come out the other side unless we want to destroy any possibility of further communication. We cannot afford to meet anger with anger of our own, righteous or otherwise.  Righteous anger meeting righteous anger is still one angry reaction too many.

The conscious person has a responsibility to defuse a situation which may lead to estrangement and isolation wherever he meets with it.  It is a tremendous challenge and one that requires us to be awake, because the nature of anger is such that it will call up a vehement reaction in anyone who has a responsive Mars.  Like attracts like on the astral plane.

Differences exist, and unconstructive attitudes and courses of action exist also.  Not meeting anger with anger is not at all the same thing as backing down, letting another ride roughshod all over you or allowing yourself to be bullied or silenced when a considered assessment of the situation recommends that another view be upheld.  Like all the Ten Commandments of Modern Life given by KH, the instruction to not meet anger with anger is advice in energy management, designed to help us to use time and create opportunity, not simply for ourselves but for our planet also.  Too often the spiritually-minded use backing down as the line of least resistance, and by doing so leave the way clear for aggressors.

For centuries now, western spirituality has been defined by passive values and an unease about assertiveness.  We live with the consequences of this in the form of today’s world which revolves around a spiritual void which is waiting to be filled by responsible action and initiatives proceeding from conscious people.

The instruction to not meet anger with anger places upon us a responsibility to find another way and perhaps another time to make points that we consider need to be made. This may take effort, strategy, hard work and courage, but the person who does this will almost certainly give himself an advantage because a fit of anger may deliver a warning shot but it does not make a good case.

Suzanne Rough

The DK Foundation

August 2006

 

 

 

 
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