Anger & Delusion
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Anger Breeds Delusion
Brooding on sense objects causes attachment to them. Attachment breeds craving; craving breeds anger. Anger breeds delusion; delusion breeds loss of memory (of the Self). Loss of right memory causes decay of the discriminating faculty. From decay of discrimination, annihilation (of spiritual life) follows.
—The Bhagavad Gita II:62-63
In concise verse, these two Gita stanzas describe the fateful step-by-step descent of potentially noble man down the ladder of temptation into ruin. These stages of descent are the baneful results of brooding over sense lures, the psychological origin of desire and its offspring and their consequences.
The sage views with detachment all external beauty whether in the face of a woman or a jewel or a flower; he has no longings for possession. The sense slave craves possession; and, as beautiful women and costly treasures are numerous in this world, so are his desires! And when he is frustrated by nonpossession, he finds himself in a state of bitterness or anger.
Anger arises from nonfulfillment of desires, good or bad. Obstruction of good desires gives birth to a righteous anger; hindrance of evil desires rouses a destructive and unreasonable wrath. ...
Thus the Gita warns that anger gives birth to an enveloping delusion, a state of psychological blindness that spreads through all the reasonable faculties. It overclouds the mind and makes it grope aimlessly. In the normal state one knows what he ought to do. The light of reason is present to guide the man of normal consciousness. But as soon as the thunderbolt of anger extinguishes that light, the angry man is left in the darkness of delusion without a guide and doesn't remember what he is supposed to do. Thus it is said that loss of memory follows delusion.
Under the hypnotic influence of delusion produced by anger, a man loses his memory of what he was and how he should behave according to what is becoming to his inner real nature. The memory of his normal feelings and good sentiments fades. Under continued darkness, the angry man's memory of himself and his good qualities becomes chronically confused and utterly forgotten.
Reasonable thought finds no means of expression in an angry person. Reasonable words have no effect because they are directed not to the real man but to the angry self, who from confused memory has lost the consciousness of his true Self. Confused memory is utterly incompatible with discriminative reason. ...
Even he who has progressed far on the spiritual path may suddenly find some sense attraction catching hold of his consciousness. Immediate action by the discrimination and self-control applied toward stronger spiritual effort and deeper meditation will save him. But allowing the mind to dwell "harmlessly" on that attraction, or to feed it in any way, is to invite the ensuing consequences. ...
Society as a whole is also subject to degradation through the same process as individuals, who, after all, are the constituents of communities and nations. All the miseries and ghastly terrors of civilization have their roots in indiscrimination, which is the gradual ripening of the evil that sprouts unwittingly in the mind of man through the stages of attraction and attachment, longing and desire, anger and passion, delusion and recklessness, and impropriety from loss of memory of man's true divine Self. ... (p.311)
Self-control Leads to Inner Calmness
The man of self-control, roaming among material objects with subjugated senses, and devoid of attraction and repulsion, attains an unshakable inner calmness.
—The Bhagavad Gita II:64
The man of self-control who finds his senses under the full control of the soul's discrimination abandons attraction and aversion—the root cause of entanglement in material objects—using his obedient, unprejudiced, unentangled senses to perform duties rightfully and joyously.
Just as a rich man who succumbs to flattery and temptation loses his money and health, so any man, inherently rich in his soul, when lured by sense inclinations loses his wealth of peace and his health of spirit.
The ordinary, untrained, unguarded individual who wanders into the territories of temptation falls captive to sense attraction or aversion; being thus waylaid, he fails to reach the kingdom of happiness.
Attraction to certain sensations of taste, touch, sound, sight, and smell carries with it an invariable companion: aversion. Sudden attachments and aversions—likes and dislikes—to sense objects prejudice the mind's power of free judgment and make human beings slaves to moods and habits. Millions of men, solely through habit and lack of inner reflection, engage in "pleasures" that have long lost any real savor. (Chapter II)