Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one who gets burned.
– Siddhartha Gautama [Buddha]
Siddhartha Gautama, founder of Buddhism, was easily one of the greatest spiritual teachers to have ever lived. Born to a king around 583 BC, Prince Siddhartha Gautama renounced the material world in his quest for enlightenment. His teachings continue to influence modern philosophy and spirituality.
In the above quote, Siddhartha beautifully points out the futility and absurdity of anger. Even though he said it eons ago, it is still true. Anger, according to him, is a self-defeating emotion. When we’re angry at another person, we harm ourselves more than we harm the other.
Ironically, recent research has shown what Siddhartha seemed to know centuries ago: that people who get angry often are three times more likely to contract a heart disease than the calmer lot. Chronic anger is also known to cause or aggravate high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney malfunction, urinary problems, weakened immune system, digestive disorders, prolonged headaches and even cancer.
But if you ask me, we don’t need medical science to tell us that anger is bad for us. Ponder what he said and you will realise that he was speaking an irrefutable truth that resonates among us each time we experience anger. Don’t we feel terrible, physically and emotionally, when we’re angry?
Siddhartha’s hot coal analogy contains a simple, yet powerful lesson. Anyone with half a brain knows how absurd it is to hold burning coal in your hands, even if the intention is to throw it at someone else. By likening anger to burning coal, he makes it clear that anger does more harm to the angry than to those at whom the anger is directed.
His quote is apt for the modern times, especially when so much of our anger is directed at people we watch on news channels or read about in newspapers. Even if we do not approve of the happenings in our world, becoming angry is not the solution – it is, in fact, counter-productive. Remember, anger is just one letter short of danger.
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