Desire, Anger and Passion – the forces that we need to contend with.


Driving on the road is also a great time for observations, reflection and inferences on Spirituality in Practice. We have already noted this in a few essays earlier:

Recently I was again reminded by my friend on how we can observe events during driving to connect with the larger aspects of life. He narrated an experience he came across during a recent long distance drive:

The traffic was smooth on the highway and clipping along at max. speed (which is customarily a few miles per hour over the speed limit!). Suddenly the traffic came to a screeching halt. No one knew what had happened ahead. Several ambulances and fire engines got through the stranded traffic and went head. After nearly an hour or more the traffic started inching forward. Finally as the traffic moved forward the situation became clearer. The police had blocked traffic on two lanes of a three lane highway. The traffic trickled through one lane, past a serious accident scene. A huge truck had crashed into another ahead of it and both were jack knifed and piled into each other. The blood and other signs indicated it was not a mere collision, but lives may have been lost. “The accident scene could not but leave a lasting impression” told my friend.

As the traffic moved past the accident-scene traffic speed picked up. It took some time for the constrained traffic to resume its normal full speed, even though all three lanes were open. But there were few among the drivers who wanted to get ahead of everyone else. They were changing lanes and cutting across each other to gain marginal advantage in speed and acceleration. In this process they could have created another horrific accident similar to that they had witnessed only moments earlier.

My friend was wondering “What impels those few drivers to subject themselves to such harm and also put others in harm’s way? Why is it that they do not remember what they had seen only moments earlier? Impelled by what forces these few lose cognition of the possibilities of serious accident and harm to themselves, even after being a witness to the same to others?”.

While my friend reflected on his experience during his drive, it is perhaps a common observation to almost all the readers.

It need not be just a traffic accident either.

There are many incidences that we witness in the life of others. We see the anguish and grief they create. Yet soon we forget that and get into the rush of life. In this rush we repeat the same actions before we realize that we are also engulfed in grief and anguish. There seems to be an abundance of repeating the same mistake. One can wonder why?

The same question is asked by Arjuna and answered by Lord Krishna in Bagawath Geetha as noted below:

Arjuna :

Why is a person compelled to commit acts leading to grief, death and destruction (also described as sin), even when he/she is unwilling (based on earlier knowledge or reasoning) and yet compelled by a force, as it were?                        B.G. 3. 36

Any action carried out even without malice but results in anguish and grief to others should be thought of as a sin (Papam), according to the scriptures.

Lord Krishna:

Desire (to exclusively meet one’s personal needs at all cost), anger (as a consequence of unfulfilled desires) and uncompromising affection (passion) are the forces that are the outcome of the turbulent/agitated nature (Rajasam) of a person. They lead him/her to the path of grief and destruction. These are the enemies of any person. B.G. 3. 37

Fire, the source of energy is covered by smoke. Mirror gets covered by dust. The embryo, the source of life is surrounded by the womb. Each of these aspects of nature – fire, reflecting mirror or embryo – are influenced by the objects that envelop them. Similarly the knowledge of an individual gets enveloped by the connectors (Guna) and hence influenced by their forces.               B.G. 3. 38

 Arjuna! Knowledge or wisdom gets covered by un-relenting desire, the insatiable foe of the wise. Body and its functions through sense organs, mind and the intellect are the seats for these forces. Through these means they obscure the knowledge and negatively influence the person.              B.G. 3. 39, 40.

Therefore Arjuna, controlling these instruments of body, mind and intellect, destroy these forces – unbridled desire, anger and passion – which otherwise take hold of both the knowledge and the ability for reasoned analysis and decision making.     B.G. 3. 40

It is said that controlling the body and the sense organs is good. Having control over the mind is better. Controlling the intellect may be the best. The enlightened person controls all three and yet actively engages them without being affected by them. Such a person is considered to be the most superior of all.   B.G. 3. 42.

Thus, having become aware of the true nature of the enlightened person who uses total self-control as a means to manage oneself engage yourself vigorously in your efforts to destroy your enemy presenting itself in the form of desire.           B.G. 3. 43

 Next time you see someone driving in an unreasonable fashion putting others into peril, let us ask ourselves “What desire, anger or passion might be impelling such sin-full action”? Also next time we have an urge to drive in an irrational manner let us ask ourselves “What desire, anger or passion is impelling such action?”

Such reflection need not be limited to what we observe while driving . Instead  such conscious awareness of desire, anger and passion and their regulation must be applied during any aspect of life. Such reflection and regulation of our daily life is an aspect of Spirituality in Practice?

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1 Response to Desire, Anger and Passion – the forces that we need to contend with.

  1. thinkheal says:

    Strangely, this was brought home to me during a visit to Bangkok in 2001. On a long drive, my colleague who was travelling with me asked the driver if the car had a horn since we had never heard him use it (nor had we heard anyone else on the road!). The laconic driver replied in the affirmative.
    My colleague couldn’t contain his curiosity when we hit heavy traffic sometime later, and yet there was no honking. He asked the driver why he wasn’t honking if the car had a horn. The laconic man moved to one side, slowed down, turned around and said “don’t like it…”, turned back and moved on.
    It has stayed in my mind that a hard-working driver who is faced with competition and pressure day in and day out had been able to so successfully control his instincts and abjure honking even in the centre of the city. And he was all of 24 years old!
    Your post is one of a piece with my experience, and I keep reminding myself of the message.


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