On Anger and Hatred – From Swami Dharmamegha Aranya’s sermon

Let us discuss what Acharya Swamiji has said about anger and hatred. Anger and hatred are the biggest causes of disturbance in our mind. Anger makes us lose our balance and fall from our ideals, hence anger and hatred are a part of avidya or nescience. Nescience is discussed at length in Indian philosophy. It is the antonym of true or spiritual knowledge.

What happens when one is angry or jealous? Why is hatred referred to as nescience? In this context Acharya Swamiji’s statement is infallible: “Although hatred and jealousy cause suffering, people consider them favourable, acceptable and desirable” (Bhasvati 2/5). That is nescience or delusion. He has shown us that far-reaching effects of this nescience and we can realize it by first watching others and applying it to ourselves. We can see that the victim of hatred suffers and is miserable all the time. Perhaps he cannot even get sleep at night, but he nourishes this pernicious emotion within himself. What can be more deluding than this?

What is the greatest or most unalloyed pleasure? It is the pleasure that we receive after giving pleasure to others. That is called pure pleasure and hatred is its opposite. In hurting others we do not get pleasure, but pain yet we nurse that pain and want more of it.

Here the subject of meditation comes up. Meditation is that practice which is taken up with a certain goal in view. We usually understand it as an essential spiritual practice or paramartha. Artha here means what is essential. So paramartha means what is most essential for us,  which is reaching of a pain free state forever. Meditation is the practice which enables us to reach that state.

For worldy people, the first step in spiritual practice is taking a vrata (a resolve) for a certain period of time or for certain days. One has to resolve to follow some rules or restraints during that period. It is no use saying right at the beginning that one shall observe the vrata thoughout the year or thoughout one’s life. Then the resolve loses its gravity and power. Not everybody can sustain it. Let us then observe our resolution (vrata) for these four months.

Notice how a person’s face gets distorted when he is angry. When he is happy he wears a pleasant expression. When he is angry his face is distorted and as the doctors say, there is excessive secretion from his glands which affects his health. Anger is not only injurious to our physical and mental health, it is also baneful for those at whom it is directed.

Some people say that anger cannot be eradicated from this world completely and if one gets rid of hatred one cannot survive in this world. What one can say about it is, that according to the rishis and the buddhists, action is of two kinds, physical action and mental action. Of these mental action is primary. The desires and resolutions which arise in the mind as a consequence of mental action find overt expression in our physical action. Hence, even if we cannot avoid any of our unintended physical actions, at least we should not condone it is our minds. Tell ourself that a day should arrive when you will not act in this manner either physically or mentally. Then only you will be able to properly engage in spiritual practice.

… taken from “So Have We Heard” by Swami Dharmamegha Aranya.