Baba used to say we have to have a strong mind and ego to get rid of the mind and ego. Watching many people over many years, I have found that he was so right. People with undisciplined minds could not last around Baba; they were unwilling and had made themselves unable to do the hard exercise of practice. Sādhana requires us to use our psychic instruments rigorously. We have to have developed the skills of reflection, perseverance, precision, and clear discrimination. Along with these, we have to have picked up somewhere in our lives the ability not to take our ideas about ourselves and life so seriously.
The great Japanese swordsman Yagyu Munenori spoke of using a wedge to get rid of a wedge. What he meant is that we must be able to use the mind to get rid of the mind. So we have to have a strong wedge to be able to get rid of the other wedge. We have to have the strength to face ourselves, and this can be very difficult. There is a paradox here, in that we need to be strong in order to give up, and to know and discern what to surrender to.
This also means that we have to be willing to call a vibration what it is. This is where emotional maturity begins.
Growing up, we use emotions to guide us. But as we get clean and clear for ourselves, we reach a point where we can no longer do that. We no longer rely on emotions as a guide for our actions, but rather act from a place of nonattachment, even if the emotions are still present and felt. We then learn to discern appropriate action without using emotions as a compass.
This is difficult at first, because our emotions color our lives. They emerge as vibrations from the Heart, and then we decide what they are, where they come from and what they mean. But because we will avoid the truth about these emotions, we tend to mislabel them. We then act based on those labels rather than what the vibrations are really saying to us.
Most people judge which emotions are valid and which aren’t. This is a massive mistake. None of our emotions is valid; they are all just vibrations. They are like clouds passing in the sky. In order to understand the workings of our emotions, we need to be able to identify all their variations, much as meteorologists understand how to predict weather from a precise knowledge of the many kinds of clouds. But we must always remember that emotions, like clouds, come and pass. They are not valid because they are not who we are.
Mastery of our emotions requires us to get behind our emotions, not in front of them. If we remain in front, then we are like a ship in the changing currents of the seas, with no control over the boat.
But we are trained to believe that emotion makes things authentic. If we are not running around emoting, we are seen as cold. This fourchotomy maps the dynamic:
|Emotional||Clear and calm|
|Authentic expression||Cold and fake|
As a result, we are bound to our emotions. We identify with them and defend that identification—which makes us extremely immature emotionally.
Nowhere is this immaturity more on display than in how so many people are so quick to take personal offense on an emotional level while denying others’ experience. Everyone is identified with their judgments about their own and others’ emotions. This creates violence within and without. By shutting down and denying any place to express feelings considered “not good”, we create volcanoes waiting to erupt.
In order to be free, we must be able to still all our vibrations. This means we must cultivate nonattachment. A strong wedge is a mind that, rather than judging or denying emotional vibrations, can be disentangled from them. We cannot still something we are not disentangled from. We must first be strong enough to be willing to be with a given vibration until we can disentangle from it. Only then can we begin to still it.
Disentangling is not dissociating. We must be with our experience before disentangling from it. It’s easy to pretend to be facing yourself when in fact you’re deflecting reality. Sādhana requires real self-inquiry: not a facile “I know I’m a jerk”, but a willingness to face unflinchingly the vibrations of our obnoxiousness. While a genuine sense of humor about ourselves helps us to achieve this separation, a false one can simply be a way for the small self to save face by looking nonattached and reflective. We must know the difference, for ourselves and others.
So the emotionally mature person guards the Heart, recognizes his vibrations as soon as they emerge, accepts them for what they are, is willing to be with them, disentangles from them, and stills them where they emerge. It is crucial to understand that this is not an intellectual activity; done properly, it all takes place before we can superimpose self-serving labels on our vibrations. The practice looks like this:
- Be with (not in)
- Continue guarding the Heart
Be with your experience, whatever it is. Let whatever comes up from the experience come up. Function appropriately on the physical plane. This is what Baba taught me. It is true emotional maturity.
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