Freedom From Anger

Anger is an indication of concealed hatred, of grievance nursed. Anger is the wish to harm someone who has provoked you. An angry person is like a voluntary epileptic who, through an involuntary tendency, breaks out in convulsions. …a sure proof of a hot temper is that a man, even when he is alone, should with word or gesture (or Twitter) continue to rage and fulminate against some absent person who has given offense. —John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (OK, I added the Twitter part. That wasn’t invented in the 3rd Century.)

Anger seems to be a sign of our times. It is exhibited at the highest places…and the lowest. John Climacus says there is no greater obstacle to the presence of the spirit than anger.

He also adds advice. The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred; the next, to keep thoughts silent when the soul is upset; the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing.

He said that the mothers of anger are pride, avarice, greed, and lust. The father is conceit. The daughters are remembrance of wrongs, hate, hostility, and self-justification.

We can counter this with humility—that is, placing others before us, removing ourselves from the center of our life and replacing with the Spirit.

I recommend breathing. Conscious, mindful attention to breath. Deep inhale, hold, slow release. Done four times it is a remarkable prescription for calming the flames. And can, if repeated daily for weeks, change your life.

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