Emotions have the potential for manifesting wisdom, strength, sensitivity and connectedness. A gift commonly bypassed as our energy is caged by personal storylines, avoidance and self-centeredness. With an honest, kind and trustful openness, self-centered emotions and suffering are unveiled as living grace. It’s a sharp edge’s balance, demanding one’s willingness to let go and embrace existence, as it is; raw and ruthless.
Every moment has some emotional quality, subtle or strong. Anger and grief, silent resentment or joyful hopes are all expressions of our ongoing sensitive relationship with existence. We are all in the midst of this, striving our best towards fulfillment and avoidance of suffering, compelled by emotions, views and agendas. We prefer the pleasant and dislike the opposite to such a degree that some inner conditions seem definitely adverse. While this might be true from one perspective, I find that we often miss a graceful opportunity in our tight struggle to gain, avoid, suppress or impatiently express.
What I’ve learned is that every emotion, every moment, is grace, love and freedom in disguise. The trivial drama, strivings and self-righteousness dominating emotional life are just a shallow shell restricting the spontaneous unfolding of our actual nature; wisdom, great power, goodness and loving sensitivity.
This unconstructed loving nature, utterly simple, strong and warm-hearted is constantly trying to manifest. Unfortunately, it is completely veiled and restricted, and, in our confusion, it shows up as an amazing display of self-centered emotions. The commonly known result is countless forms of dissatisfaction with momentary bubbles of fulfillment. Though tiresome, such emotionality is nothing but a confined expression of the spontaneous communion of our fundamental connection with the world.
My point is that emotions are not the problem. The problem is this blind habitual way of being with emotion. It’s blind since it doesn’t allow emotion to manifest its actual wisdom, and traps us in selfish interests, insensitive towards the suffering of the world and other beings. This blindness in our common emotional affairs, is mostly viewed as normal. And it is normal in the sense that it dominates most of our time, and yet, so many people acknowledge another potential which, when actualized, appears far more sane.
In my experience, the difference between self-oriented emotionality and the unfolding of our nature’s qualities is extremely small, only distinguished by our clinging to a personal reality separated from others and the world. Compelled by the wishes and fears of a self-centered way of life, thoughts and emotions revolve around our own interests with little space for their capacity for fearless compassion and wisdom. I know this far too well. Unfortunately, it’s so normal.
To embrace emotions as they are, relax in the heartfelt softness of open awareness, though this also means relaxing into, and allowing fear, sadness, rage and regret. It’s a gentle attitude; a gesture of surrender and insight, which pierces the root of self-absorption and agression, allowing our natural qualities some space. When this loving fearlessness of our heart emerge, the tight grip that traps emotions is powerless to persist.
I’m starting to regard the arising of emotions as our nature’s persistent attempt to break down any sense of separation. This is very beautiful. But, as long we remain trapped by our own judgements and fear our natural sensitivity, emotion will never cause or communicate anything but endless turmoil and further separation! The intelligence of emotions can not surface, as long as one insists on holding on to what appears comfortable and satisfying. This is our challenge.
Relating with emotions in this way is not like expressing or rejecting them. I find that both holding back and expressing may be equally meaningful or meaningless, in different contexts. What is vital is the wakeful relaxation into what is, as it is: A gentle surrendering of self-importance, objectives, ideas and one’s perception of the world. This completely challenges one’s limits and usually makes me want to run away screaming. Such a gentle love affair with life and emotion. Not seeking relief. Abandoning self-importance. Remaining vulnerable. Staying in unknown openness.
Like in a rush of annoyance; recognize the vastness of being. Stop acting outwardly and gently take a leap and relax into feeling. Recognize self-importance to be completely hollow and let the energy transform. A great sense of strength and freedom might emerge. From this softer and wider position, one can relate to the situation that triggered the emotion with a greater sense of community, power and wisdom.
I know this is familiar to many people, for others, it might just not make any sense. In either case, I guess a lot of methods, attitudes or circumstances can help along into greater emotional openness, and it seems people are quite different in regard to this. I think that anything making one more relaxed, awake and kind towards oneself and others, is precious. I’ll just highlight a few things that for me are indispensable to be aware of in relation to emotionality.
First of all, seeking spiritual guidance with as humble openness as possible and allowing heartfelt connections with other beings and teachers on the path is, for me, essential. In the depth of these sincere relationships, I find my greatest inspiration, aspiring to be as honest and sensitive as possible. Taking in the wisdom of others, in trustful spaces, are necessary for me in order to gain just a slight bit of understanding and insight, necessary for investigating emotions.
I also find motivation vital. Motives reaching beyond my own world, well-being and relief are most conducive. Just sincerely aspiring for the wellbeing of other makes the ground of self-centered emotionality tremble and creates some invaluable inner space. When I’m very caught up in my own world with its hopeless habits, it helps me a lot to view the surrendering of self-centeredness and comfort as a gift and offering to other beings, the world, my spiritual teachers and our common, beautiful nature.
Radical honesty, without hurting others, is also very important. I’ve learned the hard way not to allow my mind to hide, or at least try to un-hide it. I’d rather enjoy a feast of shame or sorrow! Hiding is endless. My greatest habit.
It’s indispensably helpful to remind myself of the suffering of others and intentionally awaken my often sleeping capacity to care for others. When sincerely felt, formulating wishes or prayers for others, and myself, helps me not to sink into complete separateness and suffuses everyday actions with deeper aspirations.
In general I find that unveiling emotions has to be an attitude completely grounded in everyday life. Yet, with emotions blazing, it demands our deepest courage and attentiveness. It doesn’t need to be radical: just loosening our inner grip slightly, like being helpful, caring, humble and honest in everyday affairs, is, for me, a small but significant support.
We are by nature amazingly sensitive and sane. This is the unavoidable fact of the nature of our emotionality. In creating an inner space for emotions to arise and be freed in, we allow them to empower existence with sensitivity, wisdom, courage and caring.
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