Why Do Spiritual People Get Angry?

Aman: I have read so many stories of ancient sages who would show anger and rage at the slightest of provocation? Some would even curse and use foul language. Spiritual people are not supposed to be like that. Isn’t it? What’s the point of spirituality, penance, and meditation if one cannot control their anger?

Jagjot: Where did you get the idea that meditation or severe penance or any so-called advanced spirituality makes a person control their anger? Anger is a human emotion, and at any moment, nobody is in “control” of what thoughts they create.

The modern-day Gurus are quite conscious of their media image, so they don’t show emotions publicly, but what happens behind closed doors, we do not know.

The only difference between a sage and an ordinary person is that the sage knows that they’re angry and they don’t allow their emotions to overpower them beyond a certain point. But sometimes, rage may happen. Not everybody who wears a robe is a sage. Everybody has a breaking point.

When a disciple asked Nisargadatta Maharaj, how would he react if someone slapped him, and he immediately replied, “I don’t know.” The sage may or may not react in the moment depending on his conditioning. Sages do not suppress anger, but at the same time, they’re not slaves of their emotions.

The only difference being that the sages are rooted “in the reality of the moment,” so their anger does not propagate in horizontal time. They don’t develop hate, malice, envy, or deep resentments with others, fully knowing that just like them even others are not in control of their thoughts. For a sage, the present moment is the only reality. He knows that he’s not in control of what happens “in the moment.”

A true sage is one that has gone deep within and is fully comfortable with himself. He completely accepts his shortcomings as a human being.

That said, any person who uses anger to manipulate or control or abuse someone is not in connection with his or her true emotions. People have been doing it in the past. They do it even today.

People who say they can control their emotions are either lying or delusional. Life is not designed that way. The idea of control is of the ego-mind itself. No matter how much meditation you practice, “you” cannot control the mind. If you want more information on meditation, check out my book – meditation is not about emptying your mind.

Meditation, overall, does make one calm and peaceful, but that calm is subject to the surrounding conditions. Try meditating in the middle of a construction site or an ongoing traffic. Try doing it when you have severe pain in your body. No one has any control over their environment.

In some people, the emotional resilience may be high as compared to ordinary people, but no one can escape life’s conditioning. Sages like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sai Baba openly showed anger and sometimes used foul language.

Does it mean they were not compassionate? No. They simply reacted according to the conditioning they received from their environment.

Nisargadatta Maharaj had a short temper and he was in complete acceptance of that fact. He made peace with his anger. Even the greatest of sages, Ramana Maharishi would get upset when the toilets in his ashram were not cleaned properly.

Yet, these sages had the highest compassion for people which is demonstrated by the fact that they devoted their lives to helping others realize the truth.

A sage who is born and brought up in a rustic environment will show roughness. He will have lesser patience with your daily dramas: “I need a job. I’m not getting married. I want a child. I want money. I’m so miserable. Nobody loves me.” And so on. He’s not insensitive. He perfectly understands your predicament.

But he’s not there to stroke your ego and tell you that everything is going to be okay. He might use anger to make you see your own condition. Sages don’t get involved in dramas. They don’t twist words, rather they are straightforward and direct in their communication. They want you to see your true nature.

Once that is seen, all questions dissolve into the “emptiness.” That’s where the sage is continually pointing. He is not there to validate you for your idea of spirituality.

The idea of advanced spirituality is your own conception that has come about because of decades of mind conditioning of what spirituality should look like. And you have created a spiritual marketplace where all kinds of people claim to be the messengers of God.

The problem is that most people don’t want to know the truth because it’s uncomfortable. What you really seek in the name is spirituality and awakening is entertainment, where some cheap magician in robes makes things appear from nowhere. Or tell you about your past and make future predictions. We want to see miracles; cheap tricks; we don’t want the truth.

No sage is beyond human conditioning, and no one can defy the laws of nature, so stop putting people on a pedestal. See their intention behind anger and use your common sense to arrive at a conclusion. Don’t give in to blind faith, evaluate things with your personal experience.

Sage or not, all of us have been given the power to think for ourselves, so don’t outsource your thinking to sages and monks. Learn from them, but test their teachings by applying them in your daily living.

Ask yourself if what you learned from them brings you peace of mind and harmony in daily living. Has it really improved your relationships with others? Has it helped you overcome challenges in life? Or you’re just using the guru as a crutch to move ahead in life? No real guru will ever be your crutch. Develop your own mind, don’t rely on the guru for everything.

The calm and peace that we see in spiritual people is genuine, but it doesn’t imply that they are beyond emotions. The peace comes with the acceptance that one is not in control. A sage may be more integrated than ordinary people, but he or she for sure is not beyond life and conditioning.