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Question: I have been following some of the pages on social media, and there is one topic that is quite “in” these days—which says, ‘no emotion is a mistake’. But I have heard you in the past, and you have said that emotions are intensified thoughts. So won’t that be a hindrance in understanding, when the author is saying, “No emotion is a mistake?”
Acharya Prashant: Emotions are obviously not a mistake, but emotionality is. Emotions are neither good, nor bad. Emotions depend on the center that they are coming from. If the emotions come from a center of fear, of grief, of insecurity, then because they are arising from insecurity, you will be attached to the emotions themselves. Watching the emotions is not the same as being emotional. The author who says that, “Emotions are not a mistake,” has a responsibility to quickly add that,
“Emotions are not a mistake but emotionality is.”
Emotionality means being identified with the emotion. And when you are identified with the emotion, then you cannot know the emotion. You cannot watch the emotion. Then you cannot really see what is going on; then you are carried away by the emotion. If someone says’ “Emotions are not a mistake.” Then, he is saying something very dangerous if parallelly he is not saying that you should not let the emotion carry you away. You are far too big to be carried away by any emotion. Otherwise, we are all emotional.
Who anyway thinks that emotions are a mistake?
Had you really felt that emotions are a mistake, you would have given emotions long back. So, what is the point in asserting that emotions are not a mistake? We anyway don’t take emotions to be a mistake. We anyway take emotions to be our identity.
You see, it’s like being money minded versus having money. Having money is not a mistake, but being money minded is a mistake. Having thoughts is not a mistake, but becoming a thinker or identifying with the thoughts is a mistake. And whether or not something is a mistake, the final test is suffering. Otherwise, academically or intellectually you can keep calling something as a mistake, something as not a mistake; how does it matter? Whether or not something is a mistake, is proven only by whether or not it leads to suffering.
Greed is an emotion, jealousy is an emotion, and all these make you burn from within. Let the respected author come and keep on saying that emotions are not a mistake. But your emotions are making you burn! You are simmering. But he is saying that is not a mistake. Does that relief your condition? Nothing matters; the only thing that matters is whether or not you are operating from the right center. From the right center, everything is alright— Thoughts, emotions, all colors of life, all directions of movement—everything is good if it is coming from goodness. And nothing is good if it is not coming from goodness.
In such quotations I sense a need to pander to the market. Because, we are anyway emotional, we would like to have a teacher who certifies that our emotionality is alright.
You see, traditionally, spirituality has been like setting emotions aside; so there is a good market space available for someone who says,” No, no, emotions are alright!”
Because we want to be spiritual and we also want to keep our emotions. We want to have both. It is a tough deal when you go to a teacher and he says, “You know what? Emotions won’t do.”
Then you say, “Oh! That’s too much to ask for! Can’t I have a teacher who says that you can be spiritual while keeping your emotions?”
This kind of conventional spirituality was a mistake, and this kind of neo-spirituality is an equal mistake. There is one kind of spirituality which says that you have to suppress emotions. It makes you a rock, a stone; it is mortification. And then there is the other end that glorifies emotions. It says, “It’s beautiful if you are emotional.”
What do you mean by emotion?
All the thoughts that you have, they gain energy, they get connected to the forces, the condensed conditioning of your subconscious, and they start impacting you even more heavily than thought – that is emotion. So this is the second hand—the neo spiritual culture that has recently crept in. it says, “Emotions must be admired. Emotions are to be glorified.” It is a reaction against that kind of spiritual cult where emotions were suppressed.
Emotions are neither to be suppressed nor glorified. In fact, emotions are not at all the matter. The matter, I repeat is the heart from where the emotions are coming from. Neither do you need to suppress emotions nor is there a need to take emotions as something wonderful. If you suppress emotions, then you are again operating in preconditioned ways. And if you glorify emotions, then you are allowing that pre-conditioning to continue.
“I am emotional and I want to continue like this.” This is the second way. Be right; let your mind have a little humility. Then your emotions will be wonderful. Otherwise you cannot have a benchmark and differentiate.
Otherwise you cannot say that this emotion is right and that emotion is wrong.
Listener: Emotions are a result of interpretations, is it so?
AP: Emotions are a result of interpretations, emotions are a result of the conscious state–all that is true–but remember the state of the interpreter. Who is the interpreter?
For example, right now as I speak, my words might be arousing certain emotions in the audience. Is everybody feeling exactly the same emotion as I speak? No, because everybody is not listening to me from the same center. I will not talk about what emotion you are experiencing, I will talk about whether or not you are listening. If you are listening, then whatever you experience as an emotion, after listening is alright. I am nobody to object! As long as you are listening, all emotions are okay. And if you are not listening but feeling great emotion of love towards me, then I will be very cautious towards that love!
So it’s the center that matters; not the emotion. The center where the emotion is arising. How can you feel an admiration towards me when you are not even keenly listening; and if you are keenly listening, and feel a strange resistance, then it’s alright. What matters is the listening. What matters is the state of the interpreter.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: From where are your emotions arising?
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