Friday, April 18, 2008
Why even bother?
The negative parts of ourselves tend to run a great deal of the show, no matter how hard we work or how much effort we put in. We may well conduct our affairs as though we are mellow, calm, and collected, but the friction of the outside world--which routinely clashes with our inner attitudes, opinions, and demands-- inevitably builds up over time. It gradually generates a powerful, unstable charge of emotional energy, and sooner or later some tiny little thing triggers an explosion all out of proportion to the event.
More often than not, when the dust settles, we're bewildered by how all that happened.
Perhaps even worse, there are those times when nothing seems to go right, when life assumes a dull, gray, depressive aspect that we cannot seem to overcome. The inner judge takes over. We feel like failures, inadequate in all and everything; frustrated by conditions both inside and outside of us, with no visible way out of it.
Not only that, we have spent years of our life in a search for "something" that, no matter how hard we search, we cannot seem to find. When we were young, we heard of this marvelous place one could get to -- Paradise, or Heaven, or Nirvana-- but no matter how attentively or zealously we trudge through the landscape of our life, it never seems to change that much.
We grow frustrated. We feel alone, even embattled. We've all been there.
All of this emotional negativity arises chiefly because of our partiality. This partiality, this lack of relationship, it is the most prominent feature in the landscape of our life, and because we cannot even sense our inner parts rightly, we are utterly blind to it. These parts are not in the proper relationship; these physical entities, these organs within us don't exchange amongst each other in a right way.
As a result, the emotional center -- which is perhaps the most sophisticated and delicate part of our inner mechanism -- is starved for the food it needs. It ends up doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do, that is, support us. Instead of storing up energy, it leaks it out in every direction. And because it is starved, it lashes out like a cornered beast. The lower part of its nature is so firmly tethered to the animal in us that it doesn't know any better.
Henry Brown told me many years ago that it is important not to suppress negativity. To not express negative emotions is very different than to not have them. In fact, we probably need to have the negative emotions we have, and we need to know that we are having them. It's equally important not to condemn them, or fault ourselves for having them. ...This is, of course, quite tricky, because if we indulge in too much negativity, and allow it free reign, in its starved state it will eventually begin to feed on our inner life in a way that can permanently poison us.
So I would say it's our relationship to our negative emotions that needs to be examined, not the fact that we have them.
Some of you will know that I have mentioned it's possible to become free of negative emotions. That is an unusual state, and can't ever be produced under ordinary circumstances. It's a gift from a higher place. Even when it arrives, however, allow me to be clear in stating the negativity still exists.
The difference is that our relationship to it is transformed.
There's even more to this already complicated picture. If the inner organism begins to work properly, negative emotion can bring us a great deal of energy for our work. The very fact of its existence can, paradoxically, help us. I'm not really able to explain why this is the case; I just know from personal experience that it is.
So perhaps, when we find ourselves in the negative state, when we are rejecting our lives, and the world, and the people around us, we can take a look at that and see if there is any help available within the condition in itself.
If we just reject the condition -- believing that we should banish negativity, that it is useless, bad, and lowers us to a disgusting state (all of which may certainly, to some extent, be true)-- then we don't experience the condition or accept the condition.
And I think we should remember that we have to be within every condition in order to have that experience. Otherwise we don't grow.
This question is a very important one, because it touches on the question of the two natures, the forces that we live in between. We have one nature endowed within us from a higher level; and another one that is an animal, completely and rightly of this level.
Within the context of the animal, which lives according to instinct, and is, by its nature, "red in tooth and claw," there can be no "wrong. " If that were all we were, and that alone, it would be sufficient and there would be no wrong in it.
Even knowing that it is not alone, and that we have something higher in us, does not render anything of the animal "wrong." We just have to understand that the animal is of this level. It can't live according to any other set of laws; it is under all 48 of the laws on this level. The effort is for us to consciously recognize, through inner physical and inner emotional experience, that there is a part of us that comes from a higher level and is under less laws.
The two natures are separated and cannot be mixed. They exist in relationship with, but apart from, one another.
Everything can be going terribly wrong for the animal. And we have to inhabit that. If you want an example, take the example of Jesus Christ, who had just exactly that happen to him and allowed it to happen.
At the same time, while everything is going wrong for the animal, there is another part that everything can be going right for within us. If we want to get a hint of just where this thing called "Paradise," or "Heaven," or "Nirvana," is located, we have to look within ourself for this part of our nature, which is coexistent with but separate from the animal.
In order to discover that, of course, we have to engage in a great deal of discrimination, of inner scrutiny, of studying the condition until we finally come into contact with that beautiful and (at least for us, in our present condition) much more delicate nature, which only the emotional center is sensitive enough to touch and be touched by.
So even in the depths of negativity, perhaps we can remind ourselves that there is something worth bothering with. It's right here with us.
We just need to be willing to reach for it.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.