Thursday, 30 July 2015

ONLINE LECTURE SERIES 9: RECONNECTING TO THE BASIC GOODNESS OF LIFE


So... this event called life. How would you describe it?

When you walk even one little step on the spiritual path, you may come up against a basic problem: You uncover, lurking in your inner shadows, the truth that you don't really like life, nor do you like the creator of life.

You might be big on worshipping, chant and pray every day, meditate, read sacred or inspiring texts and indeed aspire to a holy and saintly life, but actually like life, now that's a different matter. Most of us do not. Most of us regard life not as a gift but as a burden.

Don't worry, you are not alone. This condition is so prevalent in the current age that that it is almost universal. We are most of us profoundly disconnected from authentic sources of joy. Indeed so disconnected we have become, that we have created an entire industry of things that will supposedly give us the joy we lack - anything from snowboarding, luxury cars, endless sex, money making, all the way down the scale to drug addiction to numb the pain of being alive. It all breeds a pervasive vibration in the atmosphere like a contagious virus, that says "bah, life isn't worth much anyway."

This sourness grips cultures across the globe. It breaks out as mass acts of anger, cruel acts of revenge, demonisation of "the other" outside your ethnic group, cynicism in advertising, politics, hypocrisy in food production and the mass industrial slaughter of animals, and a dreadful disregard for maintaining the beauty of the earth or the beauty of simple courtesy to others. It also manifests as fear of an avenging or sour deity.

For example, one of the saddest sights I have seen in my life was the mounds of human waste, plastic trash, and nameless detritus strewn around the streets of Vrindavan, one of the most sacred places in the world. It's all down to that "If life is so disappointing and painful, why bother?" No one thought to clean up the home of Lord Krishna and the Gopis even when arriving in droves in their best clothes. No one in the government allocated money to clean such places up and provide proper sanitation facilities.

This is not the way it is supposed to be, not the way it could be. We all know this. It's not rocket science, or some arcane spiritual truth. We all instinctively have this feeling that we as a species have taken a wrong turn somewhere; that we can and should be doing much better. There's an inner alarm bell we all hear.

Basic Goodness

So lets talk about how life actually could and should be lived. And to do that, we first will look at the creation myths of the Hopi Indians in America, who claim to be the oldest humans on the planet, the first humans. They mention we were created with a link to the creator through at least four sacred pathways - the top of the head, the throat and the heart and solar plexus. Their words and explanations about this are very similar to Vedic and Tantric teachings on the Chakras. The Hopis call the Sahasrara the Kopavi, or soft spot/open door through which the human receives life and communicates with the creator.

In Hopi thought, what has gone wrong with us is the dominance of the mind - which was created as a subtle instrument to enable us to do the will of the creator, but which instead has come to dominate human lives and convince humans that the will of the creator is such a nebulous thing, why not follow the will and inclinations of the mind? It is like being commanded by a mischievous monkey who has stolen the real king's robes but does not have a clue about how to really rule.

Under the rule of the mind, all sorts of bizarre notions arise - such as the notion that our needs are way more important than anyone else's - and all manner of odd ways to find joy are sanctioned and sought after. The mind will ride us to our grave. It doesn't care, it just wants to grab as much as it can as fast as it can. And woe betide anyone who stands in its way!

When the rule of the mind is overthrown, then a truer picture emerges.

The other morning I had finished a morning meditation on an otherwise ordinary Saturday. I opened the curtains to the meditation room, and looked out on to the gritty urban landscape below - basically row upon row of old but charmless houses on the outskirts of London. Not an inspiring sight at the best of times.

But then and there a conviction arose, a deep sense of truth, that not only was the world wherever I looked charged with the imminent presence of the Divine, but also that life, that our simple human life, was basically good, it always was and always would be. Life was and is absolutely saturated in joy, whatever we do, whatever fate deals us.

This conviction was not of the mind. No: it was a sensing of an entire range of harmonies with a different set of sensory equipment, as if they had been downloaded by an unknown process into my brain while I meditated. It was a deeply felt unveiling of something which is actually utterly and completely obvious - and yet hiding in plain sight.

All sorts of simple analogies easily explain what was in fact an overwhelming reinforcement of the sacredness of life. Indeed, that moment, as I gazed out at the buildings and sky, the sun burst out of a cloud in that glorious way an early morning sun can do. and there was the image: clouds cover the sun, but the sun remains the sun. It will always shine. The nature of the sun is to shine, to give, to connect. Thus it is with God and man.

Playfulness

You get a wonderful sense of this basic goodness, this joyfulness, in the early ministry of Jesus before politics and enemies intervened so cruelly. There he is, right from the beginning, enjoying suppers with the wrong end of society, changing water into wine, playing with crowds of young children, giving fabulous illustrations of the love that God has for us, and joy of what has been translated as "the kingdom". He lived in a culture with its own explanations of how evil entered the world - but nevertheless, that joy he inspired still comes across centuries later, despite all the mess the religion that came after made of things.

And who was more playful that Paramahansa Ramakrishna? He teased his young disciples, and even teased his wife. His words were faithfully reported, and it's always warming to see how he mixed this lightness and playfulness (much of which I'm sure is lost in translation - and his enshrinement after his death as an object of elevated worship) with the serious business of teaching and inspiring.

My own Guru Sri Sri Sri Shivabalayogi also had a lighter, mischievous side which you can see on you tube somewhere - of him throwing snowballs on a trip up to Badrinath (he had great aim) and impersonating a customs offer dressed incongruously in an official hat, stick and jacket - and loin cloth.

And what about the Italian Catholic saint Philip Neri? Once someone came to see this great saint, expecting a forbidding personality seated in constant prayer. Where did he actually find him? Walking down the street with a ragged procession of children, kicking a football!

The Mother, Mata Lalita Devi, is also all playfulness. In fact this concept of playing, which we supposedly abandon when we grow up, in fact contains something vibrant, alive, supple. If you do not play in life, chances are you miss out a simple connection with the goodness of life. I'm not talking about playing Candy Crush on your mobile phone, but play that engages a joyful relationship with the fluid movements of life. If you are blessed with young children, you will know exactly what I mean. Kids are in the moment, and they are always ready to engage in play.

Give me laughter, smiles, joy. It's there wherever you look. Miserable, self-obsessed people convinced of their own permanent misfortune, now they are hard to reach. When we forget to smile at a sunny day, we are in trouble.

God's plan for you

In every religion, there is always talk about this mysterious thing called "God's plan". Now, if we are overwhelmed by the world, it is easy to think that this plan is basically a brief document setting out God's reasons for punishing you or getting at you in some coolly malign way. But do you think this is really the case? Why not walk on the sunny side and admit that the plan might actually be different? There's a great song by Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana called "the creator has a master plan... peace and happiness for everyone". Is that so impossible to imagine, that in fact the Indwelling Lord wants us to be happy, to grow, to flower?

When you get a sense of this deep down into your bones, it's a real leap. It might take courage, you might have to take a deep breath. You may also have to revisit this every day just to remember. But it is true! Relate to God in this way - that He/She knows what is best for you, that everything is perfectly unfolding exactly as it should. "Oh, I've heard this a million times before," you might say. So what. You may have heard it, but have you ever lived by it? Saints have throughout the ages. Show me a saint who hates life!

In the language of Bhakti, one way we can approach God is as a friend - and this, too, takes a leap, an adjustment. Having God as a friend, we need no one and nothing else. God needs friends in this world. Why not become one? Then you will slowly begin to sense the perfection of everything, the inherent bliss even in every little daily activity - even in moments of anger, disappointment, fear. You need not shake God's hand. But don't wait until you think you are pure enough. Do you think that God does not know every little thing about our human frailties and weaknesses?

Keeping God as "Thou oh mighty one are seated on high far far away" is a convenient way of keeping your distance and basically ignoring the Divine. Saying "Come and share my life"... now that's a leap! But, try it.

The Lord is already in your heart. And his plan for you? To enjoy life to its fullest, harming none, helping his creation, appreciating the sheer artistry that, say, went into creating such marvellous things we see around us. And as for God's sense of humour... no one who has observed squirrels at play or fierce little birds congregating in droves could fail to be convinced that the Lord likes his jokes!

I know in my own life, there have been many periods, some even stretching years, where God's sense of play has been buried by this "adult" world I found myself in, with all its trials and worries. But there have always been little reminders. One favourite moment of total absurdity is a memory of the first meditation centre a friend and I set up in 1979, in a little country town called Chichester, in the south of England. We taught an eclectic bunch of people, and had a winter celebration for them. This event became a quirky occasion of laugh after laugh,including a Liverpudlian playing the guitar, and the ceremonial blowing out of the candles on the cake we'd baked... by a toy dolphin. I cannot even remember quite why!

The jam session

The final memory of playfulness I'd like to share with you is a time a bit before that. I'd been working for two years on the staff of Maharishi's TM movement  in Switzerland, and us staff members had to cook, clean etc for the courses of advanced meditation.

We saw many things, we staff members. Anyway, some of us gathered together, in between courses, at a temporary hotel in Interlaken in the Swiss Alps. We had many stories to share and swap. But a memorable evening unfolded when some of us brought out the guitars, and we discovered about 6 of us were all born with our Sun sign in Taurus. So, imagine a dinner, an evening of singing all sorts of inappropriate songs, of playful jamming on the guitar, of shared jokes and play - now that is enjoying the basic goodness of life.

So, think of yourself at your most relaxed, maybe surrounded by a family that for once is not fighting, over a delicious dinner. And then remember the words of Jesus: "Come, taste and see. For the Lord is good."

Questions

Doesn't the basic Christian prayer begin "Our Father, who art in heaven"? Doesn't this imply that God is there and we are here? and why would God bother with our own little lives?
What do you think God does all day? Maybe sit on a throne with a long white beard while being ceaselessly praised? How about an exciting twist of view, to say "Well, the scriptures also tell me "The Kingdom of God is within you"? The presence of God in the heart is not just an intellectual concept that can be debated endlessly. It is the experience of every advanced seeker of truth. We are not who we think we are. we are set on wider stage by far. Yes, the Lord has the heavens. But the Lord has his own dwelling place inside of you. You carry this sacred connection like a lit flame inside you. Out of this connection pours God's actions in the world.

To this I would take exception. Buddha was anti the very concept of God, wasn't he?
The Buddha is always a special case, because there has never been quite such a revolutionary teacher even after over 2,000 years. But actually what he said was not "there is no God" but that other matters were far more more urgent and immediate - and he used the concept of a burning building to illustrate his point. You don't sit around discussing the merits of escape plans when there are people to be immediately rescued. He led us back to our lives as we live them, but always talked of the possibility of escape - of Nirvana, in Buddhist language. What lies beyond the escape, he let us discover. The Buddha's teachings are startlingly modern, they never age, and have a huge amount to teach people overly reliant on the crutches of religion. "Test everything thoroughly" is a sort of Buddhist concept. But He, like everything else, pointed to within as the source of liberation, helped by firm ethical behaviour. Buddhism is a path to respect - but there are many other paths to liberation as well.


God may be playful, but isn't this play kind of rough on us?
There's also a saying "God's ways are not our ways", and there's certainly an element of that. Making God your friend does not necessarily guarantee an easy life. all of us have our karma to reap. And I'm sure you have heard this before, that moment when the Spanish mystic St Teresa found herself stuck in a carrage in the middle of a swollen river, with a broken wheel. "Lord, if you treat your friends like this," she exclaimed, "no wonder you have so few of them"! We can only accept that things are as they are, and simply carry on. Life is muscular, it is powerful, it does not follow our own little plans.

I know what you are going to say: but everything happens for the best"
Yup. That's the long, tall and short of it. That's the essence of things. And before we all trot out those familiar complaints about a nasty world - killings, terrorism, rapes, displacement etc - just also consider something now largely forgotten about. When I grew up we pretty much all believed the world would be blown apart by nuclear war. A friend of mine when young was so terrified by this prospect as a child that he devised a whole superstition of counting etc just to avoid this prospect. But, lo and behold, the world actually wasn't blown up. We did not all die of Aids, or Asian Bird Flu, or toxic chemicals. No, the world was silently saved and will be time and time again until the moment comes for another cycle of creation.

I might want to be friends with god, but what if God does not want to be friends with me?
Well, if he tells you directly (Laughter)... this kind of feeling is normally due to traumas in childhood and the lack of parental, especially maternal, care. When we are not properly safeguarded or nourished by our parents, for whatever reasons, we have deep issues with trust. This can take a whole lifetime to deal with. But a first step is saying "Well, God is not like my human father and mother. He will support. He does nourish even if I have not the capacity to feel it." Give that a try.

Let's end with a prayer you could usefully repeat:

Lord, it took me a long time to get aligned with You
But I am aligned.
It took me years to trust You
But I trust You now.
It has taken a lifetime
To unlearn what I learned
But I would love
To be your friend.
Come drop by
Any time will do.
PS Bring cakes
And I'll provide
The cutlery.









Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A SATYA SAI BABA STORY



The famous Indian teacher Satya Sai Baba appeared out of nowhere in the middle of last century, stating he was the same great Yogi who had lived and died as Shirdi Sai Baba. His fame soon spread far and wide, based on many miracles and demonstrations of unusual powers. But in the west he remained relatively unknown until the start of the 1970s. 

Satya Sai nevertheless was a polarising figure, inspiring the adoration of huge crowds in his lifetime, but also also dogged by rumours of trickery, political influence and even abuse in his latter years. His life and ministry, however, inspired millions, many of whom regarded him as the Avatar of this modern age. Others simply focussed on the miracles and manifestations that he dubbed his calling cards. Like Shirdi Sai Baba before him, he lived his teaching mission under the truth that "I give them what they want, in the hope that they will then want what I really have to give."

My own Guru, Sri Sri Sri Shivabalayogi always publicly spoke of Satya Sai Baba with the highest respect and regard. So, that's good enough for me.  And though Satya Sai's mandala of teachings and devotees is not mine, nevertheless I, too, have stories to share about the odd times his influence appeared in my life, as a sort of special guest star in the long running soap opera which is the life of this blogger.

The Healer

The first was about 15 years ago, when I went to visit an English healer called Stephen Turoff. He runs or used to run a busy clinic outside London, the waiting room of which was covered by pictures of Sai Baba, all of which were surrounded by heaps of vibhuti, sacred ash that simply materialised out of nowhere. It was an odd sight to see crowds of sick people of every race and colour sitting obediently in a room, while the ash silently piled up.

Stephen's healing method was the laying on of hands, and I  cannot even remember why I went to see him - curiosity, I guess. He laid his hands on my head, it took about ten minutes at the most, and then off I went back home, thinking nothing of it.

As soon as I  got on the bus to get to the rail station, a force hit me. I felt this enormous magnetic pull, a sort of series of mini internal explosions, and it felt like ash was pouring out of the palms of my hands and my third eye area. The feeling was so strong and unmistakeable, that I opened my eyes to see how much ash was pouring out! of course, nothing was there. But that whole journey back, the ash poured and poured. It was a remarkable strange and vivid process, accompanied by this feeling of being sucked out of my body into a velvety blackness.

When I  finally returned home, I straight away went up to my bedroom, but then was forced to sit down on the floor, close my eyes and simply allow the process to continue. This went on for an hour or two before I could get back off the floor, more than a little dazed.

My palms have never been the same since - they are still sensitive, sometimes feeling like there are two wide open holes in the centre of the palm. To this day I have to fall asleep sometimes with cloth wrapped round them, because of this odd sensitivity.

What was this all about? I have no idea. But my respect for Sai Baba dates from that strange appointment with the healer.

The House

A few years after that, Sai Baba had another odd influence. This time, it was a house that my then-partner was looking to buy. Now she only had a little amount of money, and everything was out of her price range... but there was this one house the young estate agent seemed a little embarrassed about. "Well, I can show you it," she said, "But it's a bit... different."

So off we drove to see this house, a typical little London house in a crowded part of the city suburbs. 

We knocked on the front door, and an Indian lady invited us in. Right at the front door was the wonderful smell of nag champa incense. And in the house itself, pictures of Sai Baba were everywhere. I pranammed in front of the puja and exclaimed with such genuine delight, that the owner of the house seemed a little speechless. she was more used to house viewers beating a hasty retreat! It turned out that she was a serious devotee of Sai Baba, wanting to leave England and go work in the big hospital Sai Baba had founded. 

To cut a long story short, she agreed a low price because she wanted to leave as quickly as she could. And by leave, I mean completely leave everything behind. This, presumably, was Sai Baba's instructions to her. When we finally moved in, we discovered that she had left everything including even her toothbrush. all the photos, books, puja items, furniture, you name it: it was exactly as it was, just minus one owner.

What a great teaching! if a Guru asks you to drop everything and come, would you do what she did, and follow the instructions to the letter? It reminded me of Jesus Christ's words to his very first disciples, all fishermen, "Come follow me," which they instantly did, dropping nets, boats, houses, families.

We never heard from the former owner but I  hope things worked out for her in the Sai Baba hospital.

There is another aspect to the story, as the partner who bought the house also had a previous connection with Sai Baba, She underwent a spiritual awakening some years before this, during which this spiritual presence she did not initially recognise appeared - it was Sai Baba - and told her that he would provide a house for her in the future. And this is what he did!

Now, that house had been used for prayers and pujas for many years, and so the atmosphere was already sattvic. You could meditate very easily there, despite the noisy neighbours. From this house was born the first really prolonged serious sadhana efforts, where life for me coalesced into living the life of a Yogi while still working in the world.

The house is now in the past, far down the river of time. And Sai Baba and I do not seem to have much of a connection. But, facts are facts. 


More guest appearances

Since these personal events, I've kept half an eye out on Sai Baba's influence on others outside his circle of disciples. For example the American teacher Peter Mt Shasta travelled to India in the early 1970s, spending time with the famous western circle of Neem Karoli Baba's devotees headed by Ram Dass and having some wonderful experiences of this great yogi. But on a second trip to India he met Sai Baba, and was overwhelmed by Sai's power and love. He has written about this in the first volume of his very interesting biography Adventures of a Western Mystic.

Many of Shivabalayogi's western disciples were also at one time or other Sai Baba devotees.


What it all means


The lesson for me is that the great teaching principle of the universe can crystallise into any form of the Guru it chooses. And for that period of my life, the form that briefly manifested was the grace-bestowing power that flowed through Sai Baba.

I may not revere him as my Guru, but I cannot deny that he was the focus of so many wonderful, miraculous events in the lives of people across the world. As the song goes.. what a wonderful world. And as the Shiva Sutras put it: "The path of Yoga is full of wonders".










Wednesday, 15 July 2015

ONLINE LECTURE SERIES 8: ANGER, THE ENEMY, AND HOW TO DEAL WITH IT



There's a common complaint that students of sadhana often express, and it runs something like this: "I sat down. I chanted. I even meditated. But now I feel angry all the time." Then we match this with the Sri Bhagavad Gita: "Know that anger, born of desire, is the enemy here on earth." And, bang, we are right up against one of the key challenges facing those who try to do spiritual practice.

Anger had a good twentieth century and an even better twenty first century. Picture crowds of angry people; mobs of raging people with fists held high, intent on smashing, destroying, winning, crushing. Armies trundling across deserts on angry and self-righteous rampages. Dictators intent on murdering entire races because of their imagined crimes. Fanatical people even prepared to blow themselves up and others along with them, all in one desperate angry gesture, Oh yes, anger holds sway in the world. But just imagine a world where forgiveness was just as pervasive.

Train game

This morning I was on a train going into central London, quietly doing japa and trying half-heartedly to conceal the oddity of an old white guy with a japa bag on a commuter train at 5.30am. A man two seats away was playing a computer game on his phone with the sound on, so we could hear every painful bleep and tinny repetitive explosion. 

A fellow passenger politely asked him to turn the sound down. The man with the phone, of course, was having none of that and launched into a tirade - and began to threaten violence. He was still at it when the train reached its final destination, outraged that anyone had asked him to do what his natural sense of courtesy should have already told him to do - turn the sound off and given his fellow passengers a break. Anger.

Anger is fire and every spiritual text of any worth tells us not to play with this fire. The fire can rage all our lives, sometimes completely out of sight until it flares up under some pretext and then whooosh bang goes our balance, our peace of mind. Anger, krodha in Sanskrit, is utterly corrosive. It eats away at every noble foundation. It destroys accountability, self-restraint, mature judgement, prudence, mercy and contentment. it is a killer, too. Cancers especially grow from the toxic presence of chronic anger.

When it comes to spiritual practice, anger arises it seems from nowhere, wrecking everything in an instant, breaking every barrier, spilling out into bitterness, harshness, an inability to forgive. there is even a place in the subtle chakra body where anger resides. When it overwhelms the seeker, the path to enlightenment becomes fraught with serious difficulty. So: what to do?


Mixed messages

The problem is that modern culture sends us very confusing messages about anger and emotions generally. Firstly we are told in the modern world that it is OK to "express our feelings", that holding things back might be in some way psychologically damaging. Secondly it is drummed into us in the west especially that we are all worth something, that we matter. Mix the two together with an unhealthy dose of narcissistic self-regard, and you can create a monster: the ego affronted by everything, always demanding "respect", always on the look out for slights and insults, self-pitying, arrogant, judgemental.


The key

The key to anger is non-identification. Anger is a force of energy. It is not "my" anger. When it is identified with the personal is when anger grows exponentially. Many of us carry a careful narrative in our heads of every wrong done to us, every injustice suffered, everything we want revenge for, so when anger arises, and is then attached to this narrative, it suddenly has a body. It has personalised presence. It has a seeming justification. This gets stopped when anger is simply witnessed as energy passing through the system."this, too, shall pass" is the mature practitioner's judgement on the subject. Anger, when properly restrained by wisdom, by viveka, discrimination, and by vairagya, non-attachment, loses all power and does not grow.

Non-identification is one way. Another and far more basic second line of defense is nirodha, restraint. This is what sadhana is all about it: we restrain the senses, like a charioteer restraining his galloping horses. We deliberately keep self-control, keep calm, keep sober. We do not buy into the great lie that we should unreservedly be as free to do whatever we want to do - the kind of rubbish pumped out by advertising every second of every day. No, we are not free, not if want to do spiritual practice, not if we want to get closer to God. We are voluntarily bowing down. we are voluntarily saying "Thy will, not mine." And this attitude also applies to anger. "Thy will, not mine, oh dearest one."



Sadhana calls for a different and saner take on life. 

So, here are some rules to remember about anger which you should carefully take on board:
  • Anger arises as a samskara, a seed of subtle tendency,  hidden in our subtle body from many lifetimes, or maybe just from all the frustrations of this current lifetime.
  • When you start to do spiritual practice, the quietness initiates a deep inner cleansing.
  • This cleansing expels or "detoxifies" samskaras of every type.
  • This expulsion of a sanskara is a bit like the expulsion of energy, like a brief burst of light.
  • The mature practitioner learns to witness this burst, unattached and unaffected. It goes away.
  • The mature practitioner does not identify with the anger. It is just a brief colouration of mood. So: never identify with anger, never attach it to a reason for being.
  • But the tendency to anger will direct this light to some apparent cause or justification for anger.
  • Thus, a practitioner can feel bursts of anger and label it "my anger".
  • Or a practitioner can dwell on hurts and insults and increase the initial surge of anger until it becomes a stress storm.
  • Anger indulged breeds a lifetime habit of rage that will ultimately send you to an early grave.
  • Anger denied and restrained is the way to holiness.
  • Restraint is possible by careful discrimination and self inquiry, and by spiritual practice, especially japa and meditation.
  • Forgiveness dissolves anger.
  • Forgiveness denied increases anger and destroys sadhana.
  • When you feel the fire of anger, back off... literally cool down.
  • Pranayama carefully done, not to excess, helps enormously.
  • As does the use of water on the face and hands and arms.
  • Indulging in anger makes you an enemy to life, justice and goodness.
  • Indulging in anger destroys family life, maybe even for generations.
  • Anger is not justified however bad your treatment or miserable your fate. This is not the way of the wise.
  • God stays far away from the angry, however much spiritual practice they do.
  • Control of your anger is YOUR work alone, no one elses. Nobody will remove it from you. You have to do this bit by bit.
  • Anger is never justified. acting out of anger kills sadhana.
  • Anger can arise from stress in life. But there is ALWAYS a way out. You have to find it.
  • Be realistic, be sharply aware that anger is the enemy here on earth. 

Questions

Surely some anger is justified, like protesting at appalling working conditions, political oppression, cruelty etc?
Well, remember that there is a whole other way to protest. People seem to have quickly forgotten the magnificent example of Mahatma Gandhi. He advocated non-violent protest, and freed an entire country without any recourse to bombs, assassinations and the like. His life was a profound example of righteousness and the power of Ahimsa.

So what's the cause of anger?
The Bhagavad Gita tells us that the cause of anger is desire. The two biggies - kama and krodha. Desire for what? Desire for gratification on a number of levels, desire for the Ego to insist its reality is reality, its little kingdom of aversion and attachment is all there is.

And the solution?
The solution is always found in moments of clarity. This is what sadhana is all about: setting up enabling conditions to have moments of profund coherence and clarity, which reveal the omnipresence of presence. In clear moments, that's how we tackle the root causes of anger. 

Many bad things were done to me, and I  just cannot forgive or forget.
We always have a choice. You are carrying a big bundle, a burden, and the weight of it will cripple you as the years pass. Drop it. Drop the bundle. When a moment of clarity comes, drop it. This is why the bhakta can ultimately triumph, by laying this burden at the feet of the indwelling Lord.~now this seems almost impossible, but no. It is easy. The burden may not want to be dropped, of course it doesn't. it will kick scream and struggle. But. drop it. Keep dropping it. If it takes every moment of every day, drop it. Paramahansa Ramakrishna gace a great analogy of training a dog not to jump up and snatch your food. what do you do? You give it a sharp rap on the nose every time the dog jumps. it soon learns not to jump.l Like this, anger every time it rises... you give it a rap on the nose.

But if anger is fire, how can we put it out?
How do we put out ordinary fire? Either by water or by starving it of oxygen. Water is spiritual practice. Lack of oxygen - that's when you simply acknowledge it, realise it is a passing phantom of a thing here one moment gone to next. Pay it no heed, go about your business.

I do admit I have a problem with anger, but every time I try and do something about it, back it comes again. And yet I also bow down, I love God. I end up feeling ashamed of myself.
This is not "my" anger, though. It is just... anger. Anger arising, anger passing. You need feel no shame about anger arising. So what? Just accept this is not the inner core, not the inner purity of the atman. Observe anger very carefully and calmly, and see how it dissipates when it is treated with calm indifference.

Now, as to trying, failing, trying again... welcome to sadhana! Whoever said spiritual practice, spiritual discipline is easy? It's not! It is as difficult as taming a wild horse. Only an idiot would do it, or a very brave soul. But we achieve mastery by gentle repeated effort, bit by bit by bit. Of course, you can always decide that it is too tough, and go back on a binge life. But don't then complain when life's problems mount up.

This reminds me of something my children taught me when they were young, and I was a divorced Dad. They used to come up to London, and being poor I had no car, so we used to take buses everywhere. Now all Londoners know what our city transport is like - it is the source of repeated delays, cancellations, late running... and at the time as we queued up in a line for a late bus, I would almost gnaw my own face off with anger at the lousy service. But the kids? Well, they were simply happy, unconcerned by the wait, entirely innocent and free of the irritation their Dad felt. What a teaching lesson!

Isn't anger living in the moment?
Of course anger, like anything else in this manifested universe, lives in the ribbon of time. But anger that we indulge always has a past and a future attached to it, plus a wearisome circularity about it. Living truly in the moment is living beyond time, living in the Indweller's presence.

But we also hear about yogis who were very foul tempered...
The temper of the enlightened is very different from normal anger. It is always to God's purpose.