July 15, 2018

Daily Wisdom: Mastery is the ability not to be emotionally reactive

According to Hayyim Vital, the premier student and mystical partner to Isaac Luria, leader of the great renaissance school of Kabbalah in Safed:

“The soul of the kabbalist itself, when it becomes transparent to the divine, is the revelation which guides the person in all of his life paths.”

The path of the soul in these texts and  traditions is understood explicitly to mean the path of passion, emotion and feeling. The goal is to be able to access and listen to the voice of deep emotion and detect within it the voice of God. This is how these mystics read the text. “The masters are those who have mastery over their hearts.”

Mastery, a kind of spiritual emotional intelligence, is understood as the ability to be not merely emotionally reactive, welling up with tears, laughter or anger only in response to some external event.  To be a master is the ability to identify and access a broad range of deep emotions at will, using those depth emotions to guide and interpret reality with the eyes of God.  While the intellect clearly remains a vital tool, the prophetic kabbalistic tradition insists that one who engages spirit, “with only mind and intellect….cannot attain the level of the Garden of Eden….the inner emotional work of amazement, deep feeling and ecstasy….in this world {which is} part of the enlightenment of the higher worlds.”

It is only by doing this work that “you can experience your future redeemed world, your portion in the Garden of Eden….in this world.”

Dr. Marc Gafni
Dance of Tears
(in press)

What is the difference between a feeling and an emotion?

Emotion

Photo Credit: Meredith_Farmer

 

By Joe Perez

Recently Robert Augustus Masters wrote:

Once we really understand that there is no true escape from feeling, including unpleasant or distressing feeling, we may start, at last, to consciously and consistently turn toward such feeling, like a loving parent turning, with full presence and compassion, toward their just-hurt or badly frightened child…

I struggled to express whether I agreed or disagreed with this sentiment and ultimately concluded that much depends on the sense given to the word “feeling.” The word “feeling” is often seen as a synonym for “emotion,” but the two words have a different feeling to them, don’t they? Maybe they even create subtly different emotional responses in you? [Read more…]

Free feeling: Using emotions for liberation

Laughter

Photo Credit: greekadman

 

By Sally Kempton

Practice can change your relationship to emotions, so that instead of being swamped by certain feeling states, you can hold them, contain them, see into their essence, and ultimately, use emotions in the service of your liberation.

Many years ago, I walked into the kitchen of my guru’s ashram, and found him shouting at the cooks. Force- waves of anger were bouncing around the room, almost visible to the naked eye. Then, in mid sentence, he turned, saw us standing there, and smiled. The energy in his eyes went soft. ‘How did you like the show?” he asked. Then, chuckling, he slapped the head cook playfully on the back, and walked away. The cooks giggled, and went back to work, galvanized by the energy he had injected into the afternoon.

That moment changed my understanding about emotions. The clarity and fluidity with which he had shifted from intense anger to good humor was only part of it. More interesting, I felt, was the fact that he had been using anger as a teaching tool. Was he really angry? I don’t know. All I know is that he seemed able to ride the wave of his anger with perfect easiness, and let it pass without a trace.

[Read more…]

On the three different types of tears

Icicles

By Joe Perez

Soulfulness includes the ability to express deep and often sorrowful feeling. In tears, aspects of the soul are released from the body, flowing erotically from one soul beyond itself. Marc Gafni in The Dance of Tears (forthcoming, Integral Publishers) has even categorized three major types of tears:

[Read more…]

What Do You Do with Difficult People?

By Sally Kempton

Fran’s cottage on the Oregon coast should be the perfect meditative retreat. The only worm in her apple is Larry, her landlord, who lives on the property. Larry is an acerbic critic of just about everything—the government, the art world, drug companies, and Fran. He can’t believe she’s so clueless about simple practical matters. Only an idiot, he tells her, would plant petunias without putting gopher wire around them, and that’s just for starters.

Yes, he’ll bring her groceries from town, and help her diagnose the weird noises in her car. But he also walks into her house uninvited, and doesn’t understand why she minds. After all, they’re neighbors, aren’t they?

It’s not that Larry is a bad guy, and Fran knows him well enough to know that he’s harmless. But nonetheless, she feels crowded. She doesn’t want to move, yet her landlord’s presence hangs over her house like a dark, critical cloud. Worst of all, his irritability magnetizes her own irritation, so she often finds herself talking to him in the same harsh tone he uses with her.

As a conscious person doing her best to follow a spiritual path, Fran feels ashamed of herself for not knowing how to deal with Larry. You might feel that way too, when difficult people show up in your life. Yet the truth is that few of us ever get through life without encountering—often in our intimate personal space—more than one person who is staggeringly difficult for us to handle. Whether it’s a manipulative friend, a prickly co-worker, an absent-hearted lover—some form of relationship stress seems to be part of the package we signed up for when we enrolled ourselves in the school that is life on this planet. If we don’t have a few challenging people in our lives, we’re probably living on a desert island.

So, how do you deal with a situation like Fran’s without moving away, being harsh or wimpy, or putting that person out of your heart? How can you explain to your friend who keeps enlisting you in service of her dramas that you don’t want to be part of her latest scenario of mistrust—yet still remain friends? How do you handle the boss whose tantrums terrorize the whole office, or the co-worker who bursts into tears and accuses you of being abrupt when you’re just trying to get down to business?

More to the point, what do you do when the same sorts of difficult interpersonal situations keep showing up in your life? Chalk it up to karma? Find ways to resolve them through discussion or even pre-emptive action? Or take the truly challenging view – the view held by Jungians and many spiritual teachers–that these people are reflecting your own disowned, or shadow tendencies? In other words, does dealing with difficult people have to begin with finding out what you might need to work on in yourself?

[Read more…]