“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”
This saying contains the subtle difference of “for your anger” versus “by your anger”, which personifies this strong emotion, giving it life. So we will not be punished for our anger, but by our anger. The reality is we may actually be punished for our anger, as there are real-world consequences for acting out in fits of rage. But our anger will punish us in many ways, and letting it rage out of control instead of nurturing it will allow it to punish us without limits.
We should practice contemplating non-duality. Events, people, and feelings are not necessarily bad or good. An event that is good for us may be bad for someone else. If it is bad for someone else, it is bad for us too. We are not separate from others, we are the same. We need to not only feel compassion for others, but realize they are the same as us. They are us, we are them. Transform our thinking and realize this.
So how will we be punished by our anger? We will get angry. We can see that as garbage. Unless we can transform that garbage, we will be punished as we will suffer. People around us will suffer too. We need to transform our garbage to compost, which turns to dirt, where we can plant seeds of happiness, love, and compassion. We can water these seeds over time for them to grow. We now see this means garbage is not bad, instead, it is necessary. It’s not separate from happiness, it is more like another side to the same thing.
Confusing? Perhaps if we think in terms of duality it is. But think how we get angry, it is necessary, we cannot stop from getting angry. However, we can stop from acting on it and punching the nearest objects. We will be punished by our anger, either when we wrongly act out our feelings of anger and destroy something nearby, or hurt someone we love. This is external punishment. We may also have internal punishment, upset at ourselves for having hurt someone we love, or for destroying things around us. This is all unnecessary suffering.
There are also times that we will get angry and not be punished at all. This is either because we didn’t “get caught” or because we learned this garbage will turn to dirt where new life will grow and we accept that, without practing letting out the anger on anyone or anything around us. Everyone gets angry, but a wise and compassionate person will not act out on their anger. We avoid punishment for anger when we do act out our anger and no one acts in retribution. Does this make it okay to lash out with our anger? No, we will still be punished by our anger, we will still suffer.
So we have this statement, which is really a reminder. Despite the outcome of our anger, we should still learn to control it, accept it, nurture it, and transform it from garbage into seeds of happiness. It is also a reminder of non-duality, that anger is not to be avoided and it is not all bad. Without anger we may not know true compassion. We can also use the powerful energy of anger to motivate ourselves to do good for ourselves and others. Remember that we are not the only ones that get angry.
Much can be said about anger. It is a very powerful emotion that has destroyed many lives. Remember that whether or not you are punished for your anger, the anger is still there. The anger can still be transformed. We will not be punished for being angry, we will be punished for acting out our anger in a bad way without patience. We will be punished by our anger. Everything around us will be punished by our anger.