What is an Emotion? It's an „e-motion“, energy in motion. Emotions are physical sensations or energy in our body that we feel. I found this an interesting way to look at feelings. Such energy or sensation is neither good nor bad, it's just there. And we understand that we are not our feelings, we are also not our thoughts or even our bodies. We are the person within the body who observes different thoughts and who experiences different feelings.
The emotions we experience do not just whimsically show up, there is a reason behind it. In other words, our emotions want to tell us something. We can actually learn something from every emotion we have. Unfortunately, many of us do not give so much attention to our emotions. Either in the business world, in relationships or also on a spiritual path, we might consider emotions to be a disturbance, an obstacle in our way of achieving our goal or a disturbance when we try to control our mind and senses. But actually, there is some wisdom that we could explore in every emotion we feel.
In a book on Conscious Leadership (1), which I am reading at the moment, five main emotions are being described and each of these emotions has a specific message for us. I was reflecting about this for some time and tried to connect this idea with our Krishna Consciousness understanding. Let's have a closer look:
The first emotion is Anger. Anger is a powerful energy that, of course, can be very destructive, but in essence, anger just wants to tell us: „Something is wrong here, it is time to change!“ Before every big revolution, before any significant change in the world, there was some anger that made an individual or a group of people move forward to take action. In this way, anger plays an important role. It can be a factor to improve our lives and make us strive for perfection.
Many people think that a saintly person is always supposed to be peaceful and smiling. And yes, inner peace is certainly a sign of spiritual advancement. Sri Krishna mentioned akrodha, freedom from anger as one of the divine qualities. In his purport, Srila Prabhupada comments: „Akrodha means to check anger. Even if there is provocation one should be tolerant, for once one becomes angry his whole body becomes polluted. Anger is a product of the mode of passion and lust, so one who is transcendentally situated should check himself from anger.“ (2) Here anger is described as a lower quality that occurs if my material desires for enjoyment are not being fulfilled or someone hurts my false ego. This kind of anger is described as one of the three gates leading to hell —lust, anger, and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul. (3)
One may question, if anger is a gate to hell, how can it be used in Krishna's service? As we learned from Narottama Das Thakur, in my last blog it can be done by directing anger towards those who are inimical towards the Lord and His devotees. Hanuman and Arjuna are given as examples who used their anger in the Lord's service. A teacher, for example, may also use anger in order to teach those learning under him.
I have personally witnessed how one of my siksa gurus became very angry, chastising a group of brahmacaris for their passionate, inappropriate kirtana style. When I entered his office just two minutes after that incidence, he looked at me with a peaceful smile as if nothing had happened. That was very impressive to see. If I am angry, that anger affects me for quite some time. It's a state of mind that you can`t just turn off, but a sadhu can do so because he is not affected by anger in the first place, anger is just used as a tool and then afterwards put aside.
In summary, we can say: „use anger, do not let anger use you!“ If we feel angry, we should ask ourselves: What is happening here? Why do I feel angry? Is it because my material desires or my false ego are being disturbed? Or does the situation require some adjustment? Is there something that requires a change? Anger tells us that something is no longer of service or that something must be changed or destroyed so that something more beneficial can replace it.
(In the next blogs, we look at the e-motions of Fear, Sadness, Joy and Sexual desire)
1 - `The Fifteen Commitments of Conscious Leadership`
2 - Bhagavad Gita 16.1-3, Purport
3 - Bhagavad Gita 16.21, Purport