Q. Isn’t it unhealthy and inhumane to turn away from the world and turn within? No disrespect, but denial of the world did not work for me – integration is working. Who said God loved loved us any less for embracing neurosis? God loves us maybe even more.
Tom: I know what you mean, especially with such strong language like ‘vile ways’*. It can seem inhumane and even unhealthy to deny what we consider to be an aspect of ourself. The purpose of this teaching is liberation from suffering, and this turning within is the only way I know of to attain that aim. It is also the traditional way that has been taught in various cultures for millennia – in my view, the reason this simple but radical teaching has stuck around for so long is because it works, and it is the only one that works (it goes by different names in different traditions).
The strong language is only to encourage you to turn within. There are many other aspects of life, and integration as you put it can be wonderfully healing and positive, and that is good of course, but my experience is that positive and healing as it is, it is not ultimately liberating – that is, it improves the prison but does not free one from suffering in its totality. For that Self-Enquiry or Abiding as the Self is required, and that means to turn within to find the divine within. We do not need to suppress neurosis – that is unhealthy – but just allow it and all things to be, but turn our attention away from them and all other objects towards our self – then we discover the Kingdom of Heaven within – only then can we truly say that all is one, and it not be a belief or concept in the ego-mind. Only then does suffering end.
*A version of this question was originally asked after I posted the following verses on Facebook; they are teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi taken from the wonderful text Guru Vachaka Kovai:
75. Only mad folk perplexed because
They deem the false world to be real
Find joy in this illusion.
The truly wise find joy in nothing
But Awareness which is Being.
76. Those well established in the Self,
True Being, will never pursue the world’s
Vile ways. For such descent into
The false allurements of the world
Is yielding to the animal weakness
77. What does one gain, you well may ask,
By giving up the wealth immense
Of worldly pleasure and seeking only
The benefit of true Awareness
Is the unbroken prevalence
Of peace within the heart, the bliss
Of one’s own natural being.
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1. It’s best not to believe your thoughts when you are feeling sad/angry/emotional and also best not to talk or act or make decisions from this place.
2. Instead, find yourself a safe space where you can safely allow yourself to open up to the emotion.
3. Allow yourself to feel, fully feel, and allow emotion to flow through you. You may initially feel more angry, more sad, you may cry or scream, your body may contort or writhe, you may act out like a child, but this will pass.
4. Know that you are not the limited body-mind. You are transparent ever-present consciousness which nothing can touch or harm.
5. Give your emotions and feelings a voice. Allow them to speak, don’t hold back and feel free to use expletives… eg. ‘He/she/I/the system is such a fucking idiot…why does he/she/I have to act like such a fucking idiot?….why can’t he/she be more like x/y/z?…I am so pissed off…I am so fucking angry…I fucking hate you….I am feeling really hurt…I don’t want to be hurt….I feel so small…you make me feel so small…you are such a fucking idiot….there is so much pain…why is there so much pain?…I just want to be loved….why me?…why is my life like this?…I wish it wasn’t this way…this is too difficult…it shouldn’t be like this…it shouldn’t be so difficult….I don’t want to be here any more…I can’t do this any more….I just want peace….I do want to be here but I want the pain to stop…I want the pain to stop….I just want to be loved….woe is me…..I feel so hurt…I just feel so hurt….I… just… feel… so… so… hurt…’ etc, etc.
6. Don’t act on any of these thoughts, don’t take them seriously, allow them to be expressed and FELT and allow them to pass.
If at any time you feel unsafe or you feel you are compelled to act on your thoughts/feelings, then stop the process – see the warning/disclaimer below.
Eventually all of this passes and Peace is revealed. In this way emotions are healed, they are released and set free.
The more you have suppressed or avoided your feelings (as most of us have, unconsciously for the most part), the longer this will take, the harder it will be, and the more this process will need to be repeated.
The more loving and safer the environment is in which the above process the occurs, the safer you feel, the deeper and more effective the process will be.
Throughout the above, know that you are not the limited body-mind. You are transparent ever-present consciousness which nothing can touch or harm. Your nature is Peace. No emotions or feelings can harm you. You are one with all, everything is really just this Peace that you are.
When the emotion clears, our thoughts and judgement are often very different…so when your emotions are triggered, remember, don’t act or make decisions from this place.
Stop, relax, allow yourself to feel, fully feel, know no emotions/feeling can harm you and allow them to flow straight through you like coloured light through a transparent piece of glass. Imagine yourself to be transparent if that helps. The multi-coloured emotional light will eventually clear so only bright white light remains, and your Innate Natural Brilliance is re-revealed.
In reality there is only ever this Brilliant White Light, which is What You Are and always have been.
Ps. you may have noticed that the example thoughts I gave actually form a progression from blame to anger/resentment to hurt then to self-pity and despair and then back again to hurt…again and again we come to be in touch with the underlying hurt or pain that we have sought to avoid, and it is here that the healing really takes place
Warning and disclaimer: This post does not constitute or replace medical advice and does not replace the need for professional therapy and treatment. If you have had deep emotional trauma or if you have certain mental health issues, the feelings and sensations that may come up may be too overwhelming for you to do this above process alone, at least initially, and this process could even be harmful for you by unlocking deep emotions and sensations that you are unable to deal with by yourself. In this instance my advice is to seek professional help as there are many ways of safely being guided to heal trauma and resolve mental health issues. If you do not feel comfortable with the above process, again, seek professional guidance. It is important that you feel confident and safe throughout the above process as your safety is paramount. 🙏
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Anyone else think that your personality has to be perfect and that every pore of your being has to exude an energy of loving kindness in order for the Freedom that already is to be realised? What a prison!
With respect to seeking enlightenment, what’s wrong with THIS, right now?
Freedom is already totally completely here.
Stop all this worrying and obsessing over the apparent individual and here it is, full and complete. No need to improve the individual or the world. Then things start to right themselves naturally, according to natural law. Not that you care. It’s just the way it is.
No need to judge and evaluate apparent ‘teachers’ – that’s more obsessing about the apparent individual, the individuality you project onto them.
Now there is nothing wrong with desire to improve oneself or the world. It is quite natural in certain circumstances. The desire to change something happens by itself when it happens. It too is Spontaneous Arising, a part of ‘what is’.
Look! See! Notice! All these phenomena are empty of any independent doer-self-entity.
Freedom is already here. What does it feel like? It feels like THIS. No need to seek a new or better experience, although that too is allowed.
THIS IS IT.
Here are some of my recent posts from Facebook page relating to the value of emotional/psychological work (my account is http://www.facebook.com/tomdas.nd)
I think there is a relationship between self-development and realisation of freedom, although they are certainly not the same thing.
Developing a peaceful, happy and emotionally intelligent mind can aid realisation. It is also often a side effect of realisation.
Far from being new age gibberish, this is the received wisdom of most genuine traditions aiming at liberation
When I first started teaching I tended towards just direct pointing. I quickly realised there are a whole host of reasons why people were not getting it, or if they were ‘getting it’, they quickly ‘lost it’.
I began to understand the value of emotional work, of heart opening, of regular spiritual practices, of becoming more sattvic – ie. the value of the progressive path (as well as the negatives too, eg. the reinforcement of a sense of doership/ego).
Remember that consciousness/awareness, if you want to use that concept, doesn’t need any teachings. Freedom is already here, totally and completely. It is only the mind that needs teachings.
A relatively uncluttered mind in need of little emotional work may respond to direct pointing, whereas sometimes some decluttering needs to occur first.
The basic point is not to suppress/run away from/escape from emotions and feelings, but to allow them to come and go, and to understand any underlying false assumptions that may be present and fueling them.
Basically, there is usefulness and skill in feeling emotions without labels, but there is also a usefulness in labelling feelings too.
We need to learn to feel without labelling feelings, so we can genuinely contact our emotional reality.
We also need to be able to accurately label our feelings and understand what we are feeling and why.
We also need to see how all feelings come and go and do not define us.
Freedom is already present.
Emotional intelligence is a useful skill for the body-mind, both prior to and following realisation of freedom.
Awareness needs no teachings, only the body-mind caught in ignorance needs these corrective teachings.
These teachings are only for those who take themselves to be a doer-entity. If that is seen through, then the teachings are unnecessary.
Having said that, emotional intelligence is a useful skill for the body-mind regardless of whether Freedom has been realised or not.
Even when the doer-entiry is seen to be non-existent, old emotional patterns of responding may still persist due to their past momentum/habit.
(Continued from a previous post: Responsibility: if there is no doer and no-self, and if there no nobody here doing anything, then what about responsibility?)
Question: You mentioned earlier that the heart opens? That sounds rather fluffy and vague to me – what does it mean?
Tom: Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a vague term, but I like it! What I call heart opening is not the same as Freedom – it’s important to realise that – but there is a relationship between the two. The heart can open to a large extent without Freedom being realised, and conversely Freedom can be realised and the heart not be open. However the heart can only really fully open when Freedom has been realised, and by that I mean when the notion and sense of doership has been seen through and seen to be false.
So what is heart opening? Well it happens differently with different people, depending on their conditioning, but essentially it is an openness of the emotional centre and a tendency towards feeling open, loving, peaceful and joyous.
Question: What do you mean by ‘openness of the emotional centre’?
Tom: I mean a willingness to feel one’s feelings, really feel what you’re feeling. When this happens, when we allow feelings to come and go, over time our emotions start to balance out and a feeling of wellbeing and love can start to naturally emerge.
We start to feel happier, more grateful, more loving, kinder, and more considerate. A sense of wellbeing becomes our norm. These are the characteristics of an open heart, a loving heart, and as I said, it can occur before of after enlightenment (realising Freedom), or not at all.
Q: Does that mean that you become unconditionally loving all the time?
Good question. Of course, like all subtle objects (such as emotions, feelings and mental states), emotional love and compassion also come and go. This is quite natural. You are not necessarily loving 100% of the time, far from it! You remain thoroughly human: you can get irritated by relatively superficial things, you may feel grumpy if you haven’t had enough sleep, but the tendency is more towards those loving emotions.
You see in Freedom it doesn’t matter: you are not trying to be loving or kind, you are not trying to open the heart. It’s something that can’t be forced, and the heart is naturally more open at some times compared to at other times. That is fine, and that’s just how it goes. Sometimes it’s good for the heart to be closed. But, when it’s safe to do so, we can allow ourselves to feel whatever we are feeling, not pushing ourselves, not forcing our heart open or becoming overly sentimental, but by just being real with who we are at this moment in time.
This willingness to feel is a form of fearlessness. We are unafraid to feel, we are unafraid to feel unhappy, we are unafraid to feel even fear. When we are essentially unafraid of our feelings, we start to become extraordinarily sensitive. Lots of emotions and feelings can flood in, feelings we may have held back and suppressed for many years. Energetically and emotionally this can be a time of great ups and downs in our ‘spiritual-emotional’ journey.
Our emotional apparatus, over time, becomes more sensitive and we learn who we are on an emotional level. Over time our emotions start to balance our and come into alignment with the body and the world. At this point we can learn to better trust our emotions as a source of intelligence and allow them to guide us in our actions and relationships.
Q: Did you say that heart opening can come before or after Enlightenment? (To be continued in a future post)
Q: I’ve noticed that I often feel less than I did before, for example I care less about some things now (To be continued in a future post)