Be angry and sin not. Be patient. (262-59)
Be angry but sin not. For he that never is angry is worth little, but he that is angry and controlleth it not is worthless. (1156-1)
The inclusion of an exercise on anger in the lesson on patience is certainly practical and relevant, given the extent to which anger is prevalent in the world. The simple answer espoused by some spiritual gurus is that anger is bad, sinful, or even evil and must be totally eliminated. Yet, simple is not always easy, else we wouldn’t need professionals in anger management.
And then there is the further nagging possibility that maybe anger is not always negative – perhaps there is a role for anger on the spiritual path. The latter is the position of the Cayce readings, as noted in the quoted excerpts above. The exercise on Patient Anger for this lesson does push the limits of our what we normally consider to be patience. To be sure, many would consider anger to be the opposite of patience. Hopefully, this essay will stimulate a consideration of the deeper meaning of patience, particularly “active” patience.
Yet the entity may be mad and sin not. Righteous anger is a virtue. He that has no temper is very weak, but he that controls not his temper is much worse. That [righteous anger] ye experience in thy activities at times. This is active patience. (3416-1)
The concept of “righteous anger” can be found in various spiritual traditions, particularly in Judaism and Christianity. For example, in Judaism the prophet Nehemiah expressed his anger over social injustice:
And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them.
And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer. (Nehemiah 5: 6-8)
In the Christian scriptures we are reminded of the reality of anger, which should not be sustained.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. (Ephesians 4:26)
There are examples of Jesus expressing anger, such as when he rebuked the Pharisees for their condemnation of healing on the sabbath:
And He [Jesus] entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him.
And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.”
Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent.
And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. (Mark 3:1-5)
And of course there is the well-known incident with the moneychangers in the temple:
So he [Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. (John 2:15)
Interestingly, a Cayce readings may provide some insight into the incident with the moneychangers:
Let that mind be in thee, then, as was in Christ Jesus, who boldly claimed His relationship to God, and so lived among His fellow man. He, too, showed anger at the house of the Lord being turned into a den of those who took advantage of their fellow man. (602-7)
So the anger expressed by Jesus may have involved more than sacrilege against God and the holiness of the temple. Apparently the moneychangers were taking financial advantage of the worshippers, which could probably be interpreted as social injustice, given the hierarchy of authority and power structure of those in charge of the temple.
Let’s be clear, on the whole the vast majority of references within Judaism and Christianity condemn anger and extol patience and the fruits of the spirit (gentleness, kindness, longsuffering, etc.). And yet, at times, anger does appear to be appropriate for the spiritual seeker.
What Is Anger?
Let’s step back for a moment and gain some perspective as to what anger really is.
Anger: 1) a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism; 2) rage. (Webster’s Universal Encyclopedic Dictionary)
So there are various phases and levels of anger ranging from displeasure to antagonism to rage. This is an important point, particularly with regard to rage with can be regarded as anger that is out of control.
At the physical level, in terms of biology and physiology, some experts regard anger as an adaptive behavior in evolutionary terms, linked to fear produced by the fight or flight syndrome. The secretion of adrenal gland hormones and activation of specific areas of the brain (especially the limbic system) are typically associated with states of anger at the physical level.
Many psychologists regard the honest, controlled expression of anger in response to abuse or violation as a healthy behavior that can mobilize psychological resources. For psychotherapists there is the adage that depression is anger turned inward. It is a common belief that repressed anger contributes to physical disease or eventually explodes in fits of rage, neither of which is healthy or desirable. The experience of strong anger impairs the ability to process information and control behavior leading to a loss of objectivity, empathy, prudence, and consideration of others.
In social terms, anger is power and can be used negatively to manipulate or bully, but also to address grievances. The Greek philosopher Aristotle ascribed some value to anger that has arisen from perceived injustice because it is useful for preventing injustice.
It would appear that of itself anger, in its varied degrees and manifestations, is inherently neither good or bad in ethical or moral terms.
Cayce Readings on Anger
In the Cayce readings, anger is usually regarded as a troubling or disturbing influence to be avoided or controlled. And yet, there are some readings that acknowledge a potentially useful role for anger, when directed for a positive purpose.
For example, numerous Cayce readings quote or paraphrase the Christian Bible on anger: “Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26) In fact, this quote was used in one of the early readings given the Norfolk Study Group #1 that wrote the “A Search For God” books:
Be angry, but sin not. Means there has been lost rather the desire of exaltation, that the anger is as of the giver of light that disperses the darkness as it falls upon same. These would depend, as a statement, upon the experience of the one so stating; for in this SOME would find the excuse for self. Rather that, in the desire that may be lost in Him may there come the knowledge of Him, in that there is found the light which comes from patience with self, with thine neighbor, seeking ever that He, the Lord, shall lead. (262-24)
Note the curious statement that “anger is as of the giver of light that disperses the darkness as it falls upon same.” Of course this constructive effect depends upon the purpose of the one expressing anger – is the anger an excuse for self-indulgence or a means of soul expression in patience while seeking the will of God? In the very next reading given for the study group, a follow-up question inquired about the meaning of “be angry, but sin not.”
(Q) In reading of July 24, 1932, what was meant by "Be mad but sin not"? Please explain.
(A) One that may control self in anger is beginning the first lessons or laws of experience. One that may control self in anger, that must come as resentment in the speech of individuals, may make for that which disregards the words said; disliking that which would produce such a feeling within self, yet able to love the soul of one that causes or produces such a state of feeling. This is patience, and love, and hope, and meekness, and pureness of heart. The meek shall inherit the earth, said He – the pure in heart shall see God. They are promises! Believest thou Him? Then be angry and sin not is to know that these are thine OWN promises – to thee – to thee! (262-25)
The control of anger is emphasized so that it does not become destructive. The anger is directed at the offending words or actions rather than the person. The intent is to “love the soul of one that causes or produces such a state of feeling [of anger].” The angry person must be pure in heart so as to not violate one’s own standards, one’s own ideal within self.
The admonition to “be angry but sin not” was included in a life reading for an eighteen year old man seeking a life reading:
In Mars also we find those influences in which anger, madness at times arises. Be angry but sin not. For he that never is angry is worth little, but he that is angry and controlleth it not is worthless. Then KNOW that the emotions that arise from those things that in thine experience become antagonistic have their place, but use – do not abuse either in knowledge or in thy freedom in Him. (1156-1)
This reading contains another curious line of thought about anger that found its way into numerous readings: “He that never is angry is worth little, but he that is angry and controlleth it not is worthless.” Apparently there is some essential potential for good inherent in anger when expressed appropriately in a controlled manner. Without control, the anger is destructive and an obstacle for the soul.
Note the association of anger with Mars as an astrological influence. This connection was cited in many life readings. As with most astrological influences, the tendency to become angry can be either benevolent or adverse, depending upon its application as expressed by the will of the individual. It’s a matter of choice. The readings emphasized the importance of setting a spiritual ideal as a standard for the use of will in making such choices.
Keep in mind that planetary sojourns (such as Mars) are essentially reincarnation writ large. The difference is that the past lives are on other planes of consciousness as represented by the planets of this solar system (and beyond). This is all part of the soul’s journey through materiality, which extends beyond incarnation in a flesh body on planet earth. For example, a sixty-two year old artist was told that the anger associated with the planetary influence of Mars could help her accomplish much when others would be crushed by disappointment:
Yet the intuition or the spiritual forces would cause the entity ever to be active as in Mars, so that even in its anger the entity may accomplish or carry its point when others would be crushed by disappointments that might be brought through such activities in self or in others. (3706-2)
A life reading for an fifteen year old student provides another illustration of the potential influence of a planetary sojourn in the consciousness of Mars:
From Mars we find a tendency for the body-mind at times to be easily aroused to anger. Anger is correct, provided it is GOVERNED. For it is as material things in the earth that are not governed. There is POWER even in anger. He that is angry and sinneth not controls self. He that is angry and allows such to become the expression in the belittling of self, or the self-indulgence of self in any direction, brings to self those things that partake of the spirit of that which is the product or influence of anger itself. (361-4)
Note that anger can be a positive influence if “governed” or controlled for it is a source of power or energy within the individual. Yet, uncontrolled anger that is selfish or self-indulgent is destructive. (For those who may be interested in more information on planetary sojourns and anger, I have created a page of Cayce excerpts on this subject: http://www.mcmillinmedia.com/sfg-1-resources-planetary-sojourns-anger/)
Many readings (and particularly the physical readings) address the destructive affects of uncontrolled anger, which usually was associated with digestive or circulatory disorders:
… for ANGER in the system destroys that characterization of a perfect, or even a well BALANCED ASSIMILATION, which makes for physical impoverishments … (272-1)
Poisons are accumulated or produced by anger or by resentment or animosity. Keep sweet! (23-3)
No one can be jealous and allow the anger of same and not have upset digestion or heart disorder. (4021-1)
Note that the anger cited in this last excerpt is linked to jealously, a self-indulgent motivation for anger. Other readings linked the source of destructive anger to fear:
FEAR creates anger; anger creates that in a system hindering digestion, giving the blood such impulses that the proper digestion is not POSSIBLE within the system – either that of grudge or of the desire to succumb under the influence of ANY force by impelling self upon others, or of the fear held as grudge against another for either that of a wrong intentional or unintentional thing done against self or others. (5735-1)
As a means of governing or controlling anger, the readings recommended mindfulness:
Stand aside oft and watch yourself go by, and you will not be surprised when you are able to control those little angers that arise at times. (2390-9)
Spiritualizing anger can lead to soul development. The typical means of spiritualizing emotions such as anger and desire is by working with a spiritual ideal.
Hence the entity is one to beware of in anger; one that often too easily holds malice; one that holds grudges easily. Yet these very influences SPIRITUALIZED may make for soul development, even though it passes through hardships, that will bring peace, happiness, joy, harmony. Are not these the opposite of hate, malice and contention? (476-1)
Hold not malice, though easily ye may at times be angry – but sin not. Righteous wrath is a virtue, as well as is patience – for they must arise from the same influence, or from the same motivative influence [ideal] in one's experience.
Astrologically the influences mean little in the entity's present experience, as indicated, yet these are apparent – they may later be a part of the experience, dependent upon the choices by the entity of its ideals in this sojourn.
Know, then, thine ideal – spiritually, mentally, materially. (2635-1)
For if it will be remembered, the ideal manner is to be slow to anger; and, again, be mad but sin not; and, do not hold malice nor slights nor slurs, nor unkind remarks in thine inner self, for they build barriers. (1334-2)
To be sure, the entity loses patience easily; but who knows it – but self? While this is well, it is also well at times to give vent to one's feelings. As He gave, "Be angry but sin not; condemn no one; put not a curse upon any thing or body; be angry, yes, but in the Lord." (2778-2)
Be angry but sin not. You will learn it only in patience and in self-possession. (3621-1)
Perhaps there is a constructive role for anger on the spiritual path. When tempered by patience and guided by a spiritual ideal, anger can be an energizing influence for good. Based on my personal experience and my study of the Cayce material, here are some thoughts about patient anger:
- Patient anger is not self-indulgent or self-centered.
- Patient anger is selfless (in Buddhist terms, no attachment or clinging).
- It is not vengeful and does not seek retribution.
- Patient anger is not extreme or out of control, but measured and sensitive.
- It is not motivated by the desire to put someone down, but rather to raise them up to a higher level of being (soul growth).
- Patient anger is a gift to the one to whom it is directed and may involve sacrifice on our part. (love)
- Patient anger is constructive.
- Patient anger is not passive, rather active for a purpose (ideal).
When we do wrong and hurt others, we need feedback. Usually a gentle word or kind redirection is sufficient to get our attention and motivate us to change. However, for some who insist on violating others, anger may be an appropriate response.
When a violation occurs and the person committing the violation is so self-involved – so wrapped up in their own sense of self as to be impervious to normal feedback, anger may be appropriate to focus their attention that something is wrong. Such situations often involve a chronic pattern of selfishness where the offending individual simply does not "get it" – and are not aware of the violation they are committing against others. Or the situation may be one where the person is conscious and deliberate and may even be expressing their own anger.
To be sure, anger against anger is seldom helpful or constructive. The kind word is usually more effective as a response to anger. But if the violation is willful, intentional, and habitual, a stronger intervention may be appropriate. To the extent that patient anger can be constructive, it can contribute to soul development. In such cases, it is essential that it be consistent with one's ideals. Then there is no guilt within self.
Also keep in mind that ideals change as we grow in consciousness. If we find ourselves becoming indulgent with anger, either often or excessively, maybe it would be helpful to revisit the ideals exercise and see if it's time to use the eraser to modify our standards. Or maybe we are just not being consistent in applying the valid ideals that we espouse. Attunement (prayer and meditation, including mindfulness in the midst of life) is extremely important to the ideals process. If anger gets to be a serious issue, counseling may be helpful as a tool on the spiritual path.
Anger is an emotional messenger telling us that something is wrong. It is wise to listen and understand the message. If we can be mindful and aware of anger as it arises, we might ask ourselves what it means.
- Am I angry because of some abuse, neglect or injustice in the social/interpersonal domain?
- Am I angry because of my own selfishness not being satisfied in some particular way?
- Am I angry because of fear? If so what am I afraid of?
- Is there a physical/physiological dimension to the anger? Certain illnesses can make us more prone to anger (such as liver disease).
- Rather than automatically suppressing or denying the anger as being bad or unspiritual (and feeling guilty about it), is there a way to address the anger in a positive way?
The approach advocated in the Cayce readings is to spiritualize the anger so that it is expressed constructively. This is achieved through working with ideals as expressed in active patience.
Key Points To Remember
- Although anger is usually a disturbing influence due to the human tendency for selfishness, at times anger may also make a positive contribution to material conditions and soul growth.
- When tempered by patience and guided by a spiritual ideal, anger can be an energizing influence for addressing social injustice and interpersonal abuse. (patient anger)
- Mindfulness and ideals are helpful to control or govern anger so that it becomes spiritualized.
- A tendency for anger may be part of a broader soul pattern related to planetary sojourns in other realms of consciousness.
- Be slow to anger, and sin not.
- Do not hold on to anger for it builds barriers within and can lead to physical and mental illness.
The Soul's Journey – If the concept of planetary sojourns is confusing, or if you find the idea totally implausible or even absurd, this video segment may be helpful. I struggled with the concept for many years and finally was able to make sense of it to my own satisfaction from the standpoint of the cosmic perspective of the soul’s journey through materiality.