March 25, 2005
Following Passion, Controlling emotion
One thing that is special about this session is the number of people � 15. We used to have large crowds 20-30 attending and over time, we found that larger the crowd, lower the quality of conversation because of airtime and reflection issues. I found this session to work reasonably well even though we had to manage the flow of conversation so that no one person dominates it. I appreciate the support of the community.
Two key questions came up in this week�s session:
1.What would you do if you had 10 million dollars -- Would you continue to do what are currently doing?
2.How can we move beyond experiencing emotion to expressing it responsibly?
What would you do if you had 10 million dollars?
I have asked this question to many people. When people get serious in answering this question, usually they say something to the effect of, �I will take a break to figure out what I want to do with my life. The money will give me the freedom to not worry about many things and concentrate on exploring what I want.� - Dinesh
Well, there is saying that goes, �When people get some choice, they feel liberated. When people get too many choices, they feel miserable.� If we suddenly get a lot of money, we will have too many choices open to us, which will tempt us to try more paths than we can handle leading to misery. � Vijay
I think having a clear vision and articulating it rightly generates a lot of power. It helps people make commitment and live by it. For example, Dr. V�s vision: Eliminating Unnecessary Blindness. � Dinesh
Many people feel a sense of choiceless-ness about what they are doing in their life. They feel they need a break to begin to see what else they can do. Hence statements like, � If I were to have 10 million dollars.� Just by the declaration that we don�t have a choice, we limit ourselves.
James Carse in his book �Finite and Infinite Games� shows how every single thing we do, we do it with choice. But along the way, we forget that we are the one who made the choice and start complaining that we are forced to live the life we live.
How can our awareness get deeper to embrace our emotions and give us freedom to experience them and not react from them?
Many times, we are aware that we are getting angry or frustrated or depressed. We even know the reasons and situations that make us emotional. Yet, the level of awareness does not help us take any action to control ourselves.
The awareness that we are getting emotional is a superficial awareness. It is an awareness that comes from the �observing self� which is watching the �acting self.� As long as the cost of the action is lesser than the �pay-off� from the action, there is no incentive for us to control our emotions. But even if we are aware that the cost would be more in a certain situation, it is still an awareness at the level of the actor and not an awareness from a larger context that includes the actor, others and the environment. Sometimes seeing the pain others or we ourselves experience might help to control ourselves.
Often, we expect from others what we expect from ourselves. So to the extent that we are hard on ourselves, we extend the same standard and treatment to others.
One effective way to control emotion is to accept people as they are. Because you and I are not different though it seems like we are different. Hence the phrase non-duality.
The moment we judge people, whether we are right or wrong, people shut themselves off to any further communication. So accepting people as they are is the first step towards change. Accepting people as they are does not mean one has to tolerate or cooperate with any behavior. Gandhi accepted the British as they were without fighting them. Yet he let them know that he would not cooperate with their behavior in a non-violent manner. Dalai Lama accepts the Chinese as they are. Yet he is letting them know every day, through millions of his supporters that he will not cooperate with them in enslaving Tibet.
One of the ways to accept people as they are is to be in touch with one�s own feelings but not necessarily be driven by them. We often live in our heads. Hence when ask, �how are you?� I have often replied, �I think I feel fine.� We think about our feelings while or immediately after we feel something. We do not give ourselves a chance to fully feel what we feel without interpreting, analyzing or judging it. This takes away the space for us to empathize with ourselves and others. If we do not fully walk in our own shoes, how can we walk in others�?
When everything is fine, we usually do not have problems in relating to others. But all our practice on awareness and self control are to serve us when things do not go well. But it is difficult to act with acceptance and love toward everyone at all times.
According to Patanjali Yoga Sutras, there are four ways in which we could relate to other without creating negative emotions:
Maitri � Friendship, love
Karuna � Empathy, Compassion
Mudita � Being happy for the others
Upeksha � Live and let live (co-existence)
If we can develop friendship and bring loving compassion into a relationship, there is nothing like it. On the other hand, empathy and pure compassion without the friendship and love is next best. If not, just be happy about them and their progress even though you don�t have a direct relationship with them. Finally, develop live and let live attitude if the first three don�t work for you.
How do you relate to others now? What could change in the way in which you relate?
Posted by Ragu at March 25, 2005 12:53 PM
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