Improving Our Behavior with the Help of the Guru Part 7

Part 7 of 7 - Continuing Bodhinatha's first Guru Purnima class on the role of the guru and his task of helping us improve our behavior, Bodhinatha explains that part of the problem with anger is that the home is looked at as an acceptable place to let off steam. Don't do that. Look at the home as a temple and resolve to keep the vibration of a temple there. To let of steam go to a gym, go for a walk to someplace beautiful in nature. Other remedies for anger, having to do with specific people, are the flower penance for someone you resent and the doing of three kindly acts for someone toward whom you have gotten hurtfully angry.

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Questions? Bodhinatha is the successor of "Gurudeva," Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. If you have questions on subjects about spiritual life you will find answers in Gurudeva's books and teachings. Learn about ways to study these teachings by visiting The Master Course site or writing to mastercourse@hindu.org.

Unedited Transcript:

The idea that is coming up is not a remedy, it is just a statement. Part of the problem in anger is, the home is looked at as an acceptable place to let off steam.

We are upset with things, we are upset with the people at work. So, we come home and complain to our spouse and let out all our frustration at home. The wife is raising an infant and going through all the demands of taking care of the infant all day and is somewhat frustrated. The husband walks in the door and the wife lets out her frustration on her husband.

We are letting off steam in the home. We are considering the home as the acceptable place to express all these emotions.

Well, Gurudeva says we should not do that. We should look at the home as a temple. We want to turn our home into a temple, a temple-like vibration. So, would you go to the temple and let off all your steam and frustrations in the same way? No, of course, you would not. The temple is special. So you go there on your best behavior. Likewise, we want to change our attitude toward the home if we feel that this is an acceptable place to let off our frustrations. We have to say, "No, it is not. We are creating a temple. I am turning my home into a temple. God lives here, I live in the back room."

It is a wonderful idea but to keep it short, the explanation is - Well, do something else. Let your steam off between the office and the home. Go somewhere else. Go to a gymnasium and exercise. There are lots of places you can exercise, let off your energy that way. Take a walk to some place that is beautiful. Walk through a park, walk to the beach. Tune yourself to nature, feel better about life and get rid of that sense of frustration. Don't bring it home from the office, get rid of it. Likewise, if the wife is home all the time taking care of infants and so forth, she can go out and get to an exercise place. Go out to take a walk. Go out and be with friends. Make sure she just does not build up all this frustration, so when the husband walks through the door, the poor husband gets all of it. She needs to get out too and not think, "It is acceptable to behave that way in the home." Get rid of the frustrations somewhere else.

There is a couple more remedies for anger.

Let us now look at some of the specific remedies. Specific remedy means we are angry at a specific person like our father. We never forgave him for this or that. Grumble, grumble. We are upset with our father for something.

So the first specific remedy is the flower penance. It is for a situation when you are angry with a specific person for events that took place in the past. This applies to resentment toward parents as to how they raised you, anger toward a spouse because of specific events that took place and for which you have definitely not forgiven him or her, serious problems between siblings, resentment with how your employer is constantly mistreating you and so forth. You are mad at a specific person.

Put up a picture of the person toward whom you are angry and for 31 days, place a flower in front of the picture. While doing so, sincerely forgive the person in heart and mind. When it becomes difficult to offer the flower of forgiveness because hurtful memories come up from the subconscious, perform the vasana daha tantra, writing down the hurtful memories and burning the paper in a trash can. Say, "I forgive you for I know that you gave back to me the karma that I set in motion."

That is what we call the flower penance. Lots of Gurudeva's sishya have done it and gotten rid of resentments they held for 10, 20, 30 years against a parent or a relative or someone. It works out very well.

Second remedy is when serious anger has been expressed toward a member of the immediate family. There is a tendency for certain kinds of people when they get angry, they will gladly fast or something. It is too easy. So, this is hard. Sometimes I give this one because you have to help the other person that you got angry at. This is for serious anger which has been expressed towards a member of the immediate family. The remedy is to do three kindly acts you have not previously planned to do for each expression of anger.

For example, if a husband shouts at his wife at length, he could then take her out to dinner, buy her an item she really needs for the kitchen and give her some extra free time by taking care of the younger children for a half-day.

That is very effective because you really have to help the other person that you hurt. Karmically, it is very good because you are actually helping them more in return than you hurt them. Karmically, it is balancing out. Plus, it is impressing you on helping people rather than hurting them through anger.

In summary, anger is something that can be controlled by acknowledging that it is a serious problem that easily leads to violence and is a quality that should be absent from those serious about making progress in their spiritual life.

Aum Namah Sivaya.