In this world, no-one escapes anger always, everywhere and all the time. If you think you are beyond anger, try for example an Ayahuasca ritual or a good psychotherapy program, to discover the anger that’s below the watershed of conscious awareness. In fact, in the seventies and eighties, Janos’ Primal scream therapy, in which you basically live out your anger as intensely as possible, was in high demand. Its decline illustrates the insight that merely living out anger does not dissolve it. It may provide temporary relief, but nothing is truly solved, and the anger will resurface sooner or later. There must be another way to truly deal with anger.
In A Course in Miracles, effectively dealing with anger (or better: the source of anger) is a key theme, as we read in the Psychotherapy pamphlet: “Its [Psychotherapy’s] whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error: the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself.” (P-2.In.1:5) Attack is caused by anger, which is in turn caused by condemnation. The Course teaches us that condemnation is unforgiveness. That’s why “psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it.” (P-2.In.2: 6) So in Jesus’ view, dealing with anger is a fundamental aspect of his curriculum for inner peace, and we do this through practicing forgiveness.
But what is our anger actually about? Why do we keep condemning this and that, while we could as easily choose inner peace? For example, many people keep complaining about the weather, even though they know it’s beyond their sphere of influence to improve it. Similarly, many people complain about people around them — their boss, their colleagues, their parents — while they realize very well that all this complaining will not change these ‘bad’ people a bit. So why do we keep doing it? As we have seen before in these posts, we point at people, things and situations outside us so that we can perceive evil “out there”, and not inside. We project our own guilt over (seemingly) having separated from God, so that everything “out there” should be punished while we ought to be accepted back into Heaven.
Although from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, all of this is completely illusory, since time/space itself does not really exist, we are nonetheless still convinced that the separation from God is quite real; and everything our senses report to our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin, attests to this. Again, since the guilt over this seeming cardinal “sin of separation” is too huge to face, we project it out, even onto God Himself: “You were at peace until you asked for special favor [i.e., to be recognized as an autonomous individual entity]. And God did not give it for the request was alien to Him, and you could not ask this of a Father Who truly loved His Son. Therefore you made of Him an unloving father, demanding of Him what only such a father could give” (T-13.III.10:2-4).
In other words, all our anger, be it about the weather, about the boss, about our own failing body, is ultimately a shadowy reflection of our anger towards God, Who ‘fails’ to recognize us as an important autonomous individual being. Countless generations have prayed ceaselessly to God to fix things for them in this world, and guess what — God doesn’t respond, since from Heaven’s point of view there is nothing to fix since there is no world. So God fails us! To add to our anger, every day we are forced to accept that our attempt to usurp God’s status as Supreme Creator did not make us omnipotent. On the contrary, we find ourselves in a vulnerable body trying to cope in a viciously dangerous world. We constantly shout: “I want it my way!”, but we keep bumping against the wall, as conflicting interests constantly collide and cause collateral damage with everyone. “Your brother is your ‘enemy’ because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining.” (W-pI.195.3:1) This, we reason, justifies our anger, which ranges by the way from ‘a mild twinge of annoyance’ to ‘intense rage’ (cf. W-pI.21.2:5); it’s all the same.
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus teaches us that “Perhaps it is helpful to remember that no-one can be angry at a fact.” (M-17.4:1). Anger always erupts due to my interpretation of a situation. Therefore Jesus concludes: “If anger comes from an interpretation and not a fact, it is never justified. Once this is even dimly grasped, the way is open. Now it is possible to take the next step. The interpretation can be changed at last.” (M-17.8:6-9). So this is why Jesus instructs me to train my mind to ever more quickly realize that “I am never upset for the reason I think.” (W-pI.5). I thought I was angry at what my senses told me is gospel truth; but I now see that I am angry because of my interpretation of someone or something that has nothing to do with reality anyway. “There is no world!” (W-pI.132.6:2). So anger is, in the end, always about my own unconsciously perceived guilt over rejecting God (Who knows nothing of this), which is why it is so important to learn to forgive the dark spots in my own mind.
Having said all this, you and I shouldn’t pretend that we’re higher on the ladder of forgiveness than we actually are. Merely an intellectual grasp of this truth doesn’t mean that we won’t ever be angry anymore. On the contrary, such insight paves the way for the “black cauldron” of anger to come into full awareness. At best, the Holy Spirit uses this as a classroom in which we slowly learn to forgive yet another perceived black spot in the mind. But it’s usually not helpful to pretend that the anger is nothing since “the world is illusory anyway”. That does not really undo the anger. It is much better to become fully aware of anger, but from the perspective of the decision maker above the battleground. If, at the same time, you can fully feel the anger in your bodily system, and yet not live it out but ask yourself: “Does this serve me? What if I looked at this differently?”, you will notice that the wave of anger will subside. The decision maker has chosen the Holy Spirit, Who gladly takes all this squander from your mind, to replace it with the peace of God.
One final note on this seemingly simple process: it does require the acceptance — without anger — of the metaphysical Course principle that the Son of God is one, and that individuality will not bring peace — not now, not ever. At the beginning stages of this practice, I am willing to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, but only as long as I can keep my self-concept intact. That is why most psychotherapy in this world doesn’t work, as we read in that pamphlet: “Their [patients’] aim is to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, but without the suffering that it entails. Their whole equilibrium rests on the insane belief that this is possible.” (P-2.In.2:3-4). That is why Jesus teaches us that in some stage of mastering true forgiveness, we will reach a point, a “dark night of the soul”, as Kenneth Wapnick puts it, wherein we realize that salvation lies in the acceptance that individual consciousness is a defense against Heaven; salvation requires us to relinquish what we feel is our very individual essence. But even then it still suffices to navigate on our trust in Jesus / The Holy Spirit, Who will take us along this road to peace, to the real world, at a pace that we are able to accept. So don’t feel guilty when you feel angry, but do decide to hand it over to your loving inner Guide as quickly as you can.
See also “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at Amazon.com: