Vanity thought #1196. Deadly sins – wrath

I’m still watching that 7 Deadly Sins documentary. The third episode, after Gluttony and Envy, was Lust and I skipped it – why risk agitating my mind? Lust always wins the moment you allow yourself to contemplate it.

This is an important point – whenever we come face to face with lust, we lose. A pure devotee might be able to withstand it but we aren’t there yet and probably never will be, not with our conditioning. An avadhūta like Śukadeva Gosvāmī might withstand it under any circumstances but we’ll never know for sure because he doesn’t go around watching shows about lust.

We have example of Haridāsa Ṭhākura who was under the attack of Māyā personified and remained steadfast in his meditation on the Holy Names but he also didn’t go out LOOKING for trouble. Sexual advances were imposed on him when he was doing his own thing and that’s how he survived. He wasn’t visiting brothels out of curiosity, he wouldn’t be Haridāsa Ṭhākura if he did, he wouldn’t be a pure devotee if he had any interest in such matters.

So, when we think that watching a steamy TV program won’t really hurt us we are being stupid. It will, without doubt. Every kiss, every sex scene, every scene involving flirting, everything will affect us. Whenever we see people talking about any kind of sex gratification it’s unwanted association. If we notice even the slightest appreciation within ourselves māyā will be right there to offer us hopes and illusions and we’ll fall. Maybe not immediately but neither our bodies nor māyā forget these things.

Perhaps some other time I’ll write more about living in sexually stimulating societies but today I’ll just say that I skipped the show about lust and move on to wrath, which isn’t as dangerous.

It’s a deadly sin, alright, angry people do stupid things they might regret for the rest of their lives, they might book their places in hell, all kinds of bad reactions might come out of it, but, generally, it’s not as bad as lust.

Wrath isn’t in the same category because it’s a product of lust. The connection is clearly established by Kṛṣṇa Himself (BG 3.37):

    It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.

Lust is the root cause, wrath is the consequence. Free yourself from lust and you’ll never experience anger, too. Lust in this verse is kāma, which isn’t restricted to sex but is a general desire for sense gratification, as in dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣa.

Producers of this documentary got this point, too. Their first segment was about women who were cheated by their husbands and wishing all kinds of misfortune on their rivals, which is actually jealousy, which is born of lust. Wrath here is just furiously typing on the keyboard and hoping someone will read it – they talked about a website where women can vent their anger and enter names into a “homewrecker” database. I don’t know why they even considered it as a “deadly sin” there, it’s a fairly harmless exercise that would not bring any serious reactions, certainly not death.

I was surprised to learn that jealousy and envy are often confused with each other. Envy is desiring something you don’t have, jealousy is attachment to something you do have. Equally as bad but if we think about spiritual world then jealousy must be all over the place there – everybody “possesses” Kṛṣṇa to some degree and everybody is afraid of losing Him.

Devotees up there might not mind “sharing” Him and offering Kṛṣṇa the service of devotees He never enjoyed before but this sharing doesn’t always entail personal loss, which causes jealousy. Consider this – jealousy is so common that it made it into śikṣā-aṣtaka, in the last two verses where Lord Caitanya laments loss of Kṛṣṇa and His tendency to break one’s heart in the most cruel manner. Jealousy needs someone to take something we consider ours and Lord Caitanya used the word lampaṭaḥ to describe Kṛṣṇa there — a debauchee who mixes with other women, as Prabhupāda translated (CC Antya 20.47).

I’m pretty sure that this behavior causes a lot of anger among Kṛṣṇa’s associates but all of it, both jealousy and ensuing wrath, are fully transcendental, legitimate emotions. I bet they are described in great detail with appropriate examples in books like Ujjvala nīlamaṇi by Rūpa Gosvāmī. Jealous anger seems to be chief differentiating property between left-wing and right-wing gopīs but I’m sure there are many other manifestations in Vṛndāvana, too. Boys must be fighting over who gets to play with Kṛṣṇa first and I bet even elderly gopīs compete among each other for a chance to hold baby Kṛṣṇa in their arms or on their laps.

Our earthly wrath is nowhere as pretty, it’s one of those things we will forever be ashamed of. In Asian societies (but not India) one must never ever under any circumstances lose his cool in public, in the west we are not as sensitive to it but this difference only shows our lack of culture. Asians would also never ever display their sexuality in public while westerners have absolutely no shame in these matters, short of outright intercourse everything goes, especially if alcohol is involved.

Personally, I consider myself a rather short-tempered person and I resigned to the fact that no amount of chanting is going to change it any time soon. Or maybe it’s just my subjective opinion and others think I’m just average. I do know where my buttons generally are, however, and, with age, I learned to avoid hitting them but “accidents” happen.

In these cases I can sense the inevitable a few seconds before the fuse blows and sometimes I walk away but usually I just watch myself go off the rails and try not to think too much of it. It’s an interaction between my material mind and external stimuli, nothing to do with me, I was put here just to observe.

I’m aware that there are various techniques helping one to control his anger and express it in a least harmful way but that would be taking too much interest in the issue for me. I’m not here to control the world and improve my karma, I’d rather patiently chant instead.

Oh, and that show had two other segments, one about some sort of a real life Fight Club, a cult movie on the subject, and one more about particularly lethal ammo for everyone’s favorite handgun. “Fight club” is one of the ways to express dormant anger but what has wrath got to do with meticulously preparing your gun for a hypothetical situation that has a very small chance of happening even in the gun crazy America?

Fight club participants, btw, not just find outlets for their anger but actively stimulate it where none was seen before. Exhilaration caused by participating in fights is apparently contagious but it’s not wrath per se, too.

All in all, she show is sorely missing lessons from Bhagavad Gīta and is not particularly illuminating, though I hope discussing these sins themselves is useful for us as devotees.

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