Monday, June 27, 2011

Untrust Us Emotions

Awhile back I was doing a lot of babysitting for these awesome yogi  parents. One night after the kid was sleeping, I picked up their copy of The Yoga Sutras and dug in. It was a long overdue date with the philosophical basis of my spiritual practice and became the foundation for some important study over weeks, months and, now, years. That night I jotted down some tidbits of wisdom in my notebook and this was the first bit, which would later become part of one of my rad, hipster tattoos: "As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind." It's an old Sanskrit quote and I find this explanation to be even more enlightening:
"The entire world outside is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your own projection. Your values may change within a fraction of a second. Today you may not even want to see the one who was your sweet honey yesterday. If we remember that, we won't put so much stress on outward things."

Lately I've been realizing how terribly unreliable my feelings about things are. I'm not talking about my intuitive senses- those are iron clad. I'm talking about the way that I feeeeeel about things- people, situations, etc. The way that I feel about something or someone surely does provide valuable information and it is valid, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything about the person or thing in question. If the lens with which I view the world is at all colored, foggy or dusty, I am going to perceive the world based on these modifications of reality. In becoming more neutral, my lens begins to clear and it is becoming apparent that as my feelings change about things, the things themselves may not actually be changing at all.

For instance, I have spent the last couple of months vacillating back and forth between liking and being mad at this guy. The guy has been doing the same things and as far as I can tell hasn't changed at all. The only thing that's changed is the way I feel about him. While I think it's fine to change ones mind, it's important to recognize that that's what's happening, lest we involve the other party in our fluctuating feelings. After all, as Viktor Frankl so wisely pointed out, "everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." No one can make us feel anything- that's our choice.

Ultimately, what I'm learning is that how I feel doesn't really matter. It does, kind of, but it doesn't change the fact that everyone deserves to be loved. Even if a person is legitimately horrible, they need love and prayer most of all. In the cases where I've just decided that I don't like someone, it is especially important for me to not let my compassion lapse. It's about time that I gain neutrality in the realm of feelings, recognizing their origins in past experience and holding them up to the light of truth and reality. It doesn't mean that I will expose myself to unhealthy people, but I'd like to be able to consider them lovingly in thought and word.

The world doesn't need our judgement and anger and hate. The world needs our love. Who are we to decide who is worthy of it? We are ALL worthy of love.

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