Running away from ‘negative’ emotions

Since we experience them so often, many of us think that we know exactly what emotions are. Generally, we put emotions into different categories and label them either as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.

340.2

When the ‘positive’ label is applied, we try to do our best to sustain the emotion, and if we cannot sustain it permanently, then at least we try to experience it as often as we can. However, when the ‘negative’ label is attached to it, we try to push it away, numb it away in any possible ways. We just want to get rid of it.

Many seekers believe that liberation is swimming in a constant, permanent state of peace or happiness. This is a huge and unrealistic expectation. If there would be only peace all the time it would stop being peaceful! Peace does not exist without its opposite. Peace can be noticed only in comparison to something else, which is labelled as ‘un-peaceful’.

There is no constant everlasting love or happiness, because after some time bathing in love without experiencing its opposite, love would fade away. Sadness and happiness depend on each other. Without the one the other cannot be experienced. But sadness and happiness are not problematic by themselves. They do not contain any innate characteristics or attributes. What creates dissatisfaction is the wish that the so called ‘pleasant’ things should last forever and no ‘unpleasant’ emotion should arise ever again, and if it still does, it should disappear as soon as possible.

Many seekers talk about accepting everything that arises in this moment, while they are still striving for having a constant state of peace and love. So you want to accept everything, EXCEPT fear, anger, hatred, sadness, frustration, grief…

Liberation is not about stopping being human and not experiencing half of the emotions. Quite the contrary. Liberation is about encompassing ALL aspects of humanness, embracing ALL emotions.

But almost all of us are in a constant run. We are almost always in an escape-mode, hoping for evading this moment, an escape from life, an escape from humanness.

We are attaching mental labels to the experiencing; ‘this is bad’, ‘painful’, ‘sadness’, ‘I don’t want it’, and then we run.

Liberation is about STOPPING RUNNING and ESCAPING. Fear is not fearful. Sadness is not ‘bad’ or ‘sad’. Pain is not what we think it is. Anger is not angry, only mental labels suggest otherwise. But this cannot be seen while we are in a constant run.

‘Negative’, ‘bad’, ‘sad’ are just mental labels attached to the pure sensation.
But the sensation itself is completely neutral.

So stop running and observe what you REALLY are running away from.
The so called ‘negative’ emotions are not what you think they are.

You are running away from ‘yourself’. You are running away from all the stories that you believed ‘yourself’ to be.

But behind all stories, is there really a ‘you’ that could run away from anything, or is there only running?

Then why run?

Advertisements

If there is only oneness, why can’t I feel your pain?

142.2

Question: “I AM is all that is, all One. Then, why would a truth realised person feel the physical pain only when it is pertaining to his/her body and not when someone else is hurt in front of that person? If there is no one inside the body then who is that that feels the physical pain when the body is hurt or diseased?” 

In these questions there are several assumptions that need further investigation.

At first, a truth realized person does not exist, because there is nobody to become truth realised. There is only ‘realisation’ or ‘liberation’. But it does not happen to anybody. There has never been an ‘I’ than could be liberated, not even a body.

142.4The questions about pain are based on the assumption that there are an objectively existing body and others (other bodies). However, in direct experience (experiencing with the five senses, experiencing prior to thought) it can be clearly seen that there is no body either. There are only certain sensations (like seeing, hearing, feeling/touching, smelling, tasting) – and based on these experiences a mentally constructed image of the body ’emerges’. But this image is nothing more than an idea. The body-image cannot be experienced directly, although, thoughts persistently suggest otherwise.

In the immediate direct experience, pain does not originate from the body, because there is no body; there are only sensations that are labelled as ‘body’. The body is a mentally ‘constructed’ image that arises simultaneously with a sensation tagged as ‘pain’.

Similarly, there is an assumption that there are others (other bodies). While you read these words, there is a mentally constructed ‘Vivien’ with the assumption that these words were typed by her. But in direct experience there are only words, letters on the screen. ‘Vivien’ or the other person is just an assumption, an idea. But even this is not totally the case. In ‘reality’, there are not even screens or words. There is only seamless colour-ing. There is only seeing. In order to ‘recognise’ a word or a screen, a mental concept of a word or a screen has to emerge as a current appearing thought or a mental image. But mental concepts are just interpretations layered over the current experiencing.

One could say that it is relatively easy to see this with the words on the screen but what if you are standing face-to-face with another person? In direct experience, what is the other person? How is it experienced?

The so called other can be seen, touched, heard, smelled or even tasted. But actually, there is only seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting. From these experiences a mental concept of ‘other’ emerges, believing that this is a human being, a woman, alive, X years old who is talking to me about her pain right now. All of these are projections. The direct experiencing of seeing, touching or hearing does not imply all of these. There is not even a link between the sound and the sight, yet alone ‘her pain’, only thoughts connect them claiming that ‘she is talking’. So, in the immediate direct experience, where is the other? Is there an other?

It is not about seeing or believing that ‘your body’ and ‘my body’ are one and the same or feeling ‘your pain’, but about seeing that there is neither ‘your’ or ‘my’ body in the actual immediate experience. Both of them are just mental constructs projected onto the sensations.

There is no independent ‘reality’.
There is no division, only thoughts divide.
Whatever ‘I’ see in ‘you’ is ‘me’.
‘I’ fill the mental construct of ‘you’ with attributes.
‘I’ am ‘you’.

And yet, in our everyday life (in conventional reality) we behave as if these mental constructs were ‘real’. There is nothing wrong with the body-image or any mental constructs – they are beautiful and most of the time quite useful. However, seeming ‘problems’ can occur when they are mistaken as ‘reality’ and not seen for what they are – simple thoughts like birds flying by.

What is resisted is strengthened

One of the natural tendencies of the human ‘mind’ is to label and interpret whatever arises in this moment. This mental narrative is not problematic by itself, and it is not necessary (or even possible) to get rid of it. Wanting the ‘mind’ to stop labelling or thinking is completely futile. It won’t happen, at least not for long.

278

There are millions of labels that can be attached to anything that appears in this moment, but in general, these tags are either about approaching or avoiding what has just arisen. It is either put into the category of desired (positive) or undesired (negative). Things are rarely interpreted as neutral, and even when it happens the ‘unimportant’ tag comes with it, so it is ignored and forgotten quickly.

Let’s say, I have an important appointment at 9am, but I have been stuck on the motorway for an hour now because the car has broken down, so it is certain that I cannot be there on time. This situation is definitely labelled as bad and undesirable. As time goes on, the body gets more and more tense and ‘I feel terrible’ due to a mental story that has emerged around the situation. The contraction in the body is uncomfortable, so I want to get rid of it. I try to relax and push my thoughts away, but in vain.

When something ‘unpleasant’ happens, there is a habitual tendency to avoid it. However, the avoidance itself strengthens what was intended to be eliminated. The more ‘I’ want to get rid of something, the better ‘I’ get attached to it.

The ‘reason’ behind this phenomenon is that when I want to get rid of something it means that its ‘reality’ is already approved. I would not want to eliminate something if I had not believed that thing is real and true. And when something is believed to be true, how could it be obliterated?

Thus, the body cannot relax while the labels about the situation is believed and taken seriously. It does not mean that ‘you’ have to love the situation and happily cover it up with a positive affirmation: “How good it is, I have just lost a thousand dollars because I could not get to the meeting. I am so happy”. Overriding resistance with ‘positive thinking’ won’t help either.

The liberation is hidden in the core belief (label) — ‘this is bad’. The current circumstances are completely neutral, only the conditioned thought-tags suggest otherwise. ‘I’ project meaning onto the situation.

The car has broken down. I am stuck on the motorway. I won’t be able to get to the meeting. So, I’ve just lost a thousand dollars. – These are ‘facts’. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I want to redo it or undo it, IT IS AS IT IS.

And even the labelling nature of the ‘mind’ is part of the flow. When the story is seen and not believed, the movie of ‘my’ life is watched without identifying with the main character, ‘I’.

Arguing with what IS, is totally futile.
Arguing with what IS, is a conditioned habit.

What is resisted is strengthened.
Resistance is a guaranty for suffering.

Is physical pain a source of suffering?

275We are taught from early childhood that physical pain is a source of suffering. The two words – pain and suffering –, sometimes even used interchangeably, as if they were pointing to the same thing.

However, physical pain in the body is nothing more than an arising sensation that is labelled as ‘painful’. When this label is put onto the raw sensation accompanied with a story about how bad this experience is – that is the cause of suffering, not the physical sensation itself.

The word ‘pain’ is not just a simple ordinary word, because it goes hand in hand with a bunch of other labels: ‘having pain is bad’, ‘I don’t want it’, ‘I want it to go away’, ‘I don’t want to be sick’, and so on. So even if just this single word ‘pain’ is put onto the raw physical experience, all the other conditioned labels are also automatically applied. When this happens unconsciously, and not seen for what it is – only a stream of thoughts – the suffering is guaranteed.

The bodily sensation does not have any innate attributes at all. It is just IS as it is. It is not bad or painful, only thought-labels suggest otherwise.

However, in order to see the difference between pain and suffering, it is not sufficient to believe these lines. You have to see it for ‘yourself’; not thinking about it, but LOOKING at it.

Next time when there is a physical pain, there is an opportunity for paying attention to the bodily sensation itself. When all the thought-labels are ignored, what is the raw experience like? Does it have a shape or form? Does it say that ‘I am the pain’?

What kinds of thought-tags arise interpreting the experience? ‘Oh, it hurts’, ‘this is pain’, ‘I don’t want it’… Are there any accompanying mental images about the body or certain body parts? Maybe a picture from the ‘past’ or an image projected onto the ‘future’?

What is left, when all the stories, thought-labels and mental images are just observed but not believed or resisted? When they are seen for what they are – simply thoughts and images passing by, like clouds on the sky… what is left then?

The story about the pain can be very tricky. Apart from some extreme cases, the physical pain is not constant at all. Only thoughts create the illusion of its continuity.

Let’s say, that there is a headache. The first sign of it emerged about an hour ago, and it has been in the focus of attention about ten times for five seconds (at each time), since the first experience of the headache arose. Some (or all) of these experiences have been stored in memory, and every time when the focus of attention goes to the sensation of pain again, the ‘brain’ links the current experience with all previously stored memories and creates the illusion of its continuity, by stating that ‘I am having this terrible headache for more than an hour now’. When this interpretation is believed, the continuity of time has arisen, and as a result, the illusion of a continuously present pain has also emerged.

Maybe it sounds complicated, but it can be observed in direct experience. The following exercise could be helpful to look at this phenomenon, if there is a curiosity to do so.

For the next ten minutes, label all experiences as they arise. When the focus of attention is on seeing, say ‘seeing’, when something is heard, ‘hearing’, when a food is tasted, ‘tasting’, when a bodily sensation arise, ‘sensing’. If thoughts come up interpreting the experience, ‘thinking’, when mental images appear, ‘imagining’, when pain arising, just simply say ‘pain’ or ‘hurting’.

The exact wording does not matter. The purpose of the exercise is to see that pain or any other phenomena ‘exist’ only when it is in the focus of attention. When the attention moves somewhere else, the experience of the pain is gone. Only the mental interpretation links together the memories of the experiences, creating the illusion of their continuity.

The source of suffering is not the experience of ‘pain’.
The source of suffering is the story about the experience.

Fear is not fearful

249In order to better understand what fear is, we have to make a distinction between instinctual fear, which is genetically coded into the human organism, and the projection of fear, when a fearful story is projected into the future about what might happen.

Examples for instinctual fear could be a fear of falling from the edge of a cliff, or being frightened by a sudden loud noise. However, humans experience instinctual fear rarely. When it happens, there is an instant adrenalin rush in the body which signals the organism to move away from the danger. Still, the adrenalin surge is not the result of thinking processes. Although, a few seconds later, thoughts may come up interpreting what happened, saying that ‘I am afraid because I almost fell off the cliff’. But the surge of adrenaline works perfectly without thinking, and by itself it does not imply fear.

The same adrenaline rush could be tagged as ‘excitement,’ if I jumped out of an airplane with a parachute fastened to my back. Or, it could be labelled as a ‘sign of love’ when I unexpectedly spot my new lover at the other side of the street. Fear, excitement, love – the sensation is the same, only the label varies.

Even though instinctual fear is rare in our everyday life, we still experience fear quite often, due to mind-made stories being projected into the future: ‘I fear growing old’, ‘I’m afraid of being ridiculed in front of all my colleagues’ or ‘what if she leaves me’; the list is endless.

When my friend tells me that their company decided outsourcing a whole department, thoughts might come up: ‘What if my company will do the same? My job is definitely not indispensable, what if they will fire me? What would I do? I am too old to get a new job. How am I going to pay the mortgage?’ And the fear is set in motion.

But this fear is not caused by an adrenalin rush; it is caused only by believing the story – the story of ‘my’ life. It has no reality, except as a string of thoughts. It is real only as an appearing thought-story, but never its content. Only believing the story creates the emotional response.

When fear arises, is it really fear that is experienced, or is fear just another cover story? When I think ‘I fear that I might lose my job’, would not it be more appropriate to say that ‘there is a resistance to this story’? Do I really feel fear or I just resist what was made up about what might happen?

And what is fear anyway? How is it experienced? When the fear as emotion arises, it is nothing more than felt sensations in the body with the added thought tag ‘fear’. In direct experience, most of the emotions that are labelled as ‘negative’ are experienced quite similarly, as felt contractions in one or more parts of the body.

What is the difference in direct experience between fear, shame, guilt or anger? Is there any apart from the labels as ‘fear’ and ‘shame’? Does the felt sensation contain by itself any innate fearness or angriness?

Is fear real at all? Or is it just a resistance…?
With or without the story, reality is the same – neutral.

Fear is just an artefact, a fabrication. It is nothing more than a sensation in the body plus an attached ‘fear’ label. This is the case with all emotions. The sensations by themselves are not negative, positive, pleasant or unpleasant. They are totally neutral. Only the attached tags differentiate between them.

When this is seen, fear evaporates. It becomes an empty word.
Because fear is NOT real.
There is just a sensation.

Memory is not ‘me’

Visual illusion - Akiyoshi Kitaoka

Visual illusion – Akiyoshi Kitaoka

We were taught since early childhood that there is a solid, separate entity, a ‘me’ in the body, looking out to the world through the eyes. But this is just an assumption that has never been questioned before.

When the curiosity arises to look closer and challenge this strongly held belief, it turns out to our surprise that the ‘me’ is nowhere to be found. It is simply not there. Similar to visual illusions, where it seems that there is an animation in the picture, but it is just a trick of the mind.

However, reading these lines and believing that there is no self, is not sufficient to see through this illusion. In this case, just another belief would be placed on top of the idea of the self. The belief of the mirage of the ‘me’ needs to be deconstructed and dissolved, and not covered up with another layer of beliefs.

The ‘I’ seemingly lives in memories and beliefs. But in the present moment, where is this ‘I’? Not in a memory, not in a future image, but here and now? Is it in the body? Exactly where?

A memory is nothing else than simultaneously arising mental images, thoughts and bodily sensations, which are firmly welded together and appear as a coherent and real depiction about the assumed past. But this mental construct of a seeming past experience arises in the present moment. There are no little shelves in the mind holding small segments of the past as memories. All memory is constructed again and again in the here and now every time ‘we’ think about it.

The image of me playing in the garden as a five-year old is not ‘me’. Although, the thought label of ‘this is me, playing in the garden’ is fused with the picture of the five-year old body and the bodily sensations of the associated emotions. But thoughts, mental pictures and emotions arise in this body, here and now. The emotions and the remembrance of warmth of the sun on the skin are felt now.

There is nothing outside of the present moment. The ‘I’-thought that emerges as part of the memory is nothing more than a thought.

There is no ‘me’ looking out of the eyes, who is separate from the rest of the world. The idea of separation is created by thought. Only thoughts separate.

Between two thoughts there is no ‘me’.
The sense of me emerges when an ‘I’-thought label is put on the felt aliveness in the body. But the sense of self is NOT the self.

When a memory is dismantled into its components – thoughts, images, emotions, bodily sensations and beliefs – and each piece is examined closely looking for the existence of ‘me’, the glue that hold the memory together creating the sense of self, releases and dissolves. What is left is just the pure experience of thoughts, images, sensations and emotions, without a ‘me’ who could own the experience. There is no individual person.

This is what ‘we’ are seeking.
This is peace.

Matrix is the movie of ‘my’ life

You don’t have to go to the cinema in order to see a good movie. It is enough just to watch ‘your’ thoughts. This is the best movie ever. It’s real entertainment.

245.1

The matrix is not just a science fiction movie, depicting a dystopian future where people ‘live’ their lives in an artificially stimulated reality. The matrix is what we live in; and it seems pretty real for almost all humans. Of course, it does not mean that human bodies are kept in containers outside of the matrix or in some another dimension.

There is nothing outside of the matrix.
The story of ‘my’ life IS the matrix.

Therefore there is no escape from it. The story of ‘my’ life is not something that needs to be getting rid of; ultimately, it is for entertainment. To break the spell, all is needed is just to wake up from its mesmerisation, then lay back and watch all the happenings.

Although, getting lost in the story of ‘my’ life is also part of the flow of the existence. But no matter what happens in the story, no matter how unpleasant it seems sometimes, while it is seen for what it is, the peace underneath is unconcealed.

But life is not about being in a constant happy or blissful state. States can never exist without their opposites. There is no happiness without sorrow and no pain without pleasure, because they are the flip sides of the same coin. Pain and pleasure depend on each other.

Arguing with what IS is the cause of suffering.

Waking up in the dream is not about being free from all unwanted emotions, but encompassing all experiences, openly, fully. Regardless of the mental labels the mind puts onto the happenings of the play of life, everything is allowed to be as it is. Without believing mental concepts, all experiences are perfect the way they are, even those happenings that are labelled as ‘dreadful’.

Reality is benign.
When we don’t argue with what IS, that is freedom.

Things happen in the movie without any director whatsoever, as the part of the ever changing motion of life. Freedom comes from giving up trying to control what cannot be controlled. Freedom is giving up struggling and arguing with what IS. There is no controller. Life just flows like an endless movement of energy, without a centre, a ‘me’, who could own or govern life.

It is fascinating how the matrix is orchestrated without a conductor. Thoughts, images, sounds, bodily sensations, emotions are welded together – creating an intricately detailed, enchanting, three-dimensional virtual reality, with a seemingly existing main character at the centre of all happenings. It’s beautiful…

So, lay back and enjoy the matrix.

Nature of thoughts

149One of the biggest calamities of the human race is that we take ‘our’ thoughts too seriously and we suffer as a consequence. When there is a tendency to being lost in the content of thoughts, which is the habitual state of humanity, ‘we’ are at mercy of whatever thoughts might pop-up in ‘our heads’. An almost constant flux of thoughts appears on the horizon which can trigger a wide range of conditioned emotional responses.

Let’s say you are working on a home improvement project and try to assemble some furniture what you never did before. At first, some enthusiastic thoughts may come up with images about your beautiful new table and the approving smile on the face of your spouse. This fantasy may trigger some pleasurable emotions with a feeling of contentment which enhances your self-image. Later, when you start working on your project, some disturbing thoughts might arise: ‘This is much harder than I thought. I don’t know how to do it. What if I screw it up?’ – accompanied with images of a badly-built, wobbly table and the face of your wife frowning at you. Feelings of disappointment and dissatisfaction go along with this story and your previously inflated self-esteem is now plummeting. What’s going on here?

Thoughts come and go as clouds on the sky but when they are believed they seem to become real for ‘us’. There is an emphasis on the word ‘seem’ because in reality – meaning in direct experience – a thought is real, but never its content. Its content is just a dream, a fantasy. When this is seen, the grip of the heaviness of thoughts is gone.

The function of thoughts is to make a mental description or concept about what IS for a later storage in memory, but this doesn’t mean automatically that this concept is accurate or real.

When thoughts are seen for what they are – mere thoughts passing by – their emptiness and powerlessness become apparent. They don’t point to any real thing.

The mind is a labelling machine.
Thoughts pop-up out of the blue, and ‘you’ have no control over them.
‘You’, who think you have control over ‘your’ thoughts, is just another thought.
There is no ‘you’ to have thoughts.
Thoughts are real, but you are NOT.

When this is seen, there is freedom.
Freedom from the grasp of thoughts.
Freedom from the constant need to become or to appear as somebody in the eyes of the ‘other’.

How is the self constructed? (part 2)

Around the age of two, the ‘story of my life’ started its lifelong, ragged journey. The ‘I’, who is the centre of the story, has been constantly and uncontrollably expanding out to the universe.

119The human mind is a labelling machine, meaning that it interprets and judges everything it encounters. It cannot help doing it, this is its job.

The original self-construct, which is an identification with the ‘I’-thought – ‘I am Charlie, I am this body’ – is further expanded with a huge array of adjectives picked up from the environment, like ‘Charlie is a good boy, so I am good’, and later, generated within the system itself by thinking, ‘I screwed it up, I am a failure’.

These deductions that ‘I am good’ or ‘I am a failure’ later become beliefs and the attributes of the ‘I’, which are nothing more than unexamined thoughts. In addition to these self-generated beliefs, a huge web of social norms have been gradually internalised into the dream of sense of ‘me’.

‘I’ have learned what is good or bad, what ‘I’ should and shouldn’t do in order to be accepted by the seeming ‘others’. But social norms are nothing more than beliefs – unexamined thoughts – but we believe that they are accurate descriptions of what IS.

So, when a slim body becomes the beauty ideal of society, then the slimness is labelled as high value, as a means for the ‘I’ to gain approval and attention from others, while its opposite, a ‘fat’ body is tagged undesirable, ugly and worthless. But these labels are just beliefs. The body itself does not have any innate attributes of worth, beauty or ugliness, regardless of its size. The body cannot be young or become old. ‘Young’ and ‘old’ are just mental constructs, labels put onto the mental image of the body. The body just IS, as it IS.

But since these labelling thoughts and beliefs are believed and not seen for what they are – a stream of thoughts passing by like clouds in the sky – they become the attributes of the sense of ‘I’, which leads to suffering.

But this is just a story, nothing more.
There has never been a self, an ‘I’ in the first place.
The self is just a fiction, an illusion.
‘I’ do not exist.

This is freedom.

How is the self constructed? (part 1)

Human suffering originates from the belief that there is somebody inside the body, a solid entity, an individual, who is separate from the rest of the world. As a result of thinking, a seemingly existing ‘me’ energy is ‘created’, an autonomous entity, with free will and doership, who acts independently from everything else.

103But how is this self created? What is the sense of ‘I’ made of? When ‘I’ was a baby, before learning the language ‘I’ think in now, the aliveness of the body was there, but the ‘I’ was not. As the brain developed and acquired the capacity to learn a language, the word ‘I’ was learned – alongside with thousand others, but not being particularly more important than any other words – as a means to localise bodies in space, to differentiate this body from others. Consequently, the sense of aliveness in the body has become associated with the word ‘I’.

In the meantime, the body was given a name, ‘Here comes Charlie’, and it is learned that this name refers to this particular body. From these associations, an idea is constructed in the developing brain: ‘I am Charlie, I am this body’, – and the sense of self was ‘born’, believed into reality.

Later on, as picking up the language went on, different verbal names for emotions were adopted from the surrounding environment and labelled the pure sensations that arose in the body. Thus, the sense of self expanded with the inclusion of ‘my feelings’. ‘I am Charlie, I am this body, and I’m happy’.

Meanwhile, as the developing brain reached the capacity to retain long term memory, the sense of ‘I’ further expanded with images from the ‘past’, thus the ‘story of my life’ started its journey with the hero, the ‘I’, at the centre of the dream. From there, the self, which is constructed from the ‘past’, is being projected into the ‘future’.

A separate individual was ‘born’ out of nothing, without any real substance.
The only reality is the sensations in the body, the sensory perceptions and the arising thoughts.

But where is the self?
Has there ever been a self, or is it just a trick of the mind?
Where are ‘you’?
Is there a real ‘you’ in the body?

Or there is just a movement of energy, like the waving of the ocean, the blowing of the wind or the warmth of the sun.