Why are we angry?

Aghora
3 min readFeb 27, 2024

Discussing anger in humans necessitates a step back to understand its origins, especially when contrasted with the animal kingdom. It’s crucial to note that what we observe as aggression in animals—sstemming from encroachments into their space or threats to their family—iis fundamentally different from human anger. In animals, this aggression is a defense mechanism, a direct response to protect their domain and ensure peace unless provoked.

However, humans exhibit anger for a myriad of reasons, not all of which involve a direct personal threat or injury. This transition from a boundary-based defensive mechanism in animals to the broad spectrum of triggers for human anger suggests a significant evolution. It raises the question: where does this more generalized form of anger originate, if not from innate instincts?

The answer seems to lie in the role of culture in defining the boundaries of what is considered personal or sacred. Unlike animals, whose boundaries are limited to their immediate self, family, or territory, human boundaries are shaped by a complex web of cultural constructs. These include one’s country, state, language, and religion, extending beyond physical territory to include the family and personal assets.

Interestingly, human anger often flares up over issues that do not directly threaten these physical or even cultural territories. This observation points to the idea that human anger is closely tied to identity and the perceived boundaries set by societal norms and values. When these culturally defined boundaries are threatened, anger becomes a natural response, not unlike the defensive aggression seen in animals, but significantly more nuanced.

In essence, human anger is a reflection of the complex interplay between individual identity and broader cultural and societal constructs. It is a testament to the sophisticated social structures humans navigate, far removed from the instinctual aggression of animals defending their immediate territory. This evolution from a simple defense mechanism to a complex emotional response highlights the intricate nature of human social interactions and the profound impact of culture on our emotions.

Upon understanding that human anger stems from the vast, often abstract boundaries that define our social, cultural, and individual identities, it becomes imperative to explore how one might manage such emotions effectively. Unlike the tangible territories that delineate animal domains, human boundaries are largely psychological, woven from the fabric of our affiliations and beliefs. This distinction is crucial in devising strategies to mitigate anger.

The essence of addressing human anger lies in confronting our psychological associations with the external world. Take, for example, our affiliation with a country or religion. These associations, while significant, can sometimes lead us to experience anger over incidents that do not directly impact us personally. Such reactions underscore the influence of perceived psychological boundaries on our emotional responses.

To mitigate anger, one approach involves transcending these perceived boundaries. This transcendence can take two forms: either by disassociating oneself from these artificial constructs imposed by society and culture or by adopting a more inclusive perspective that embraces everything within one’s psychological boundaries. This latter approach aligns with the teachings of Vedanta, which advocate for seeing Brahman, or the ultimate reality, in everything. By expanding one’s sense of self to include all existence, the concept of boundaries dissolves, ushering in a state of infinite inclusion where nothing is perceived as external or separate.

This philosophical standpoint suggests that by recognizing everything and everyone as part of a singular, boundless reality, one eliminates the basis for anger. When there are no boundaries to be threatened, there is no anger to be felt. Such a perspective is not merely about suppressing or avoiding anger but fundamentally altering one’s understanding of the self and its relation to the world. It invites a profound shift towards seeing oneself as infinite, where every entity lies within one’s expansive boundary, leaving no room for external provocations to disturb one’s peace.

In conclusion, managing anger from the perspective of expanded human boundaries and the teachings of Vedanta offers a transformative approach. It encourages individuals to reassess their psychological associations and embrace a more inclusive, boundaryless view of existence. By doing so, one can achieve a state of peace and harmony, transcending the limitations of artificial divides and the turmoil they often bring.

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Aghora

Ekum Sat There is only one truth. This is the sum and total of Eastern thought, Santana Dharma.