In the world around us, we see people believing that whatever comes up within them is an expression of their true, authentic self, and that they need to act out on it. And they do act out on it, thinking their actions are appropriate. There is little or no restraint, discernment, or care. These people are run by their emotions. For them, impulse trumps discernment.
In sādhana, we practice being with our emotions without being run by them. However, many people misunderstand this practice as repressing their feelings and not expressing themselves truly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the fourchotomy below, we get to see how authenticity can be conflated with impulsivity, and restraint with inhibition. True sādhana is neither impulsive nor inhibited; it is off the grid.
|Impulsive||Restrained / measured|
|Authentic / dynamic||Inhibited / tight|
And yet, in our restraint we need to learn how to be truly authentic while experiencing the richness of the spectrum of emotions that come up within us. It is crucial to our practice that we feel—but we must feel without either stuffing those feelings or splattering them on everyone around us by emoting. Emoting is not feeling.
The mistake of judging our different emotions is what brings us to emoting the practice. We believe that gushing “positive” vibrations is spiritual, and expressing upset and “negative” vibrations is not being spiritual. The truth is, neither kind of vibration is intrinsically spiritual; they are just vibrations. What we do with them is where spirituality comes in.
On encountering someone, for instance, our honest answer might be “Ugh, I can’t stand that person”, or something more dramatic than that. We should allow that experience, allow those letters to come up. We should note the vibration that gave rise to those letters. We should feel it. But we should not act on that vibration. We must be with the vibration, and then discern what is actually the appropriate way going forward. But if we believe we should not have that vibration, we in fact will deny it and thereby guarantee that it will inform all we say and do.
We might also mishandle such a vibration by letting it overtake us as being the most important thing in the world, and therefore the most true thing in the world. We become hysterical, and call it being with our experience. But we are not with our experience; we are wallowing in it and spewing it everywhere. We do not even consider our action, our underlying intention, or even what we are communicating to those around us. As Albert Camus once said in a slightly different context, “There are certain kinds of sincerity that are worse than lies”.
Yet another way of emoting the practice is using our feelings as a barometer of our attainment at a given moment. We believe that whether we are having a pleasurable feeling or not tells us whether we are practicing or not. So if we happen to have unpleasant vibrations come up, we misinterpret them as a sign that we are off track; and if we have pleasurable vibrations come up, we take them as a sign that we are doing well spiritually. Neither is true. Our vibrations are not indicators for our practice. Our job is to be with whatever comes up.
These obstacles to our practice are all based on the fact that we don’t love ourselves as we are. If we love ourselves as we are, we should be willing to be with whatever comes up within ourselves. If we either deny what comes up, or misinterpret it, or splatter it all around us, we are not taking care of ourselves or anyone else. And then we are being cruel.
So, in a world increasingly full of people who do not reflect clearly and who are not willing to be with their vibrations and act appropriately, we have to be the ones who are not normal. We must choose to face the truth of our experience, so that rather than be cruel to ourselves and others and call it feeling and caring, we can truly care for and Love All.
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