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Questioner: Sir, how to control our emotions?
Acharya Prashant: So, Shantanu is talking about controlling emotions. Let’s say Shantanu is driving his car. Do you drive your car in a controlled way or in an uncontrolled way? Obviously in a controlled way. Now, what is all control about? You are taking your car to the right, and because you control it you decide that you will not take it to the left. What is all control about?
When you say that your emotions are running amok, uncontrolled, then that is movement, right? Something is happening. And when you say that you the emotional one is now controlling emotions, what is really happening? In the name of control, you are continuing. The driver controls the car; does the car, or the control change the driver? You are the controller; you will change the direction of the car. But, changing the direction of the car is not going to change you.
Please understand something about duality and non-duality. The dissolution of something does not lie in its opposite. Something appears uncontrolled, you control it, you have just taken a phenomenon to its opposite, to its mirror image. You are going left, now you are going right. That is not dissolution. That is a continuation in duality. And, that is the mistake we make so often. We go for the opposite of something when we are tired of that thing.
Tired of left, you go to the right. Tired of the first floor, you go to the basement or to the second floor, or sometimes to the 50th floor. Tired of the metro, you go to the hill station. Tired of the car, you take the bike. Tired of animals in the office, you go and visit a zoo. Is that not how we live? And, we think this is change. Hopping from one pole of duality to the other pole, we think this is change. Traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole, we feel that we’ve overcome the gravitation of the earth. How does it matter that you have swapped poles?
Firing energizing emotions is one thing, and letting that same energy direct and control emotions, is just the same thing. You are just naming it differently, you are just naming it as the opposite. And the change in name will not help here; you need a change in the whole game. Is it not a part of being emotional that you must not be overly emotional? So, one is emotional and is angry, and suddenly he remembers that he must not be angry and he gets even more angry at having forgotten that he must not be angry, “How could I forget that I needed to control anger? Control yourself. Don’t be so excited.”
Are you able to break out of the circuit, or are you energizing the circuit even more.
I was watching a soccer match. From the fringes the coach was yelping, “CALM DOWN CALM DOWN!!!” And one kid was close to him, not too close, let’s say at a distance this door is. The kid was looking at him with horror, disgust. The fellow is saying CALM DOWN and he’s shrieking CALM DOWN with such intensity that his voice is reaching both the goal post together. He’s trying to control the boiling emotions on the field.
They taught you. They taught you that being emotional is a virtue. Parallelly they also taught you that if you’re too emotional it’s a weakness. It’s not at all about being emotional, or not being emotional. In furtherance of emotion, or in cessation of emotion, you are searching That which is not contained in emotions. You are searching at the wrong place.
If you are too emotional, you have lost it. And in trying to control the emotion, you lose it even more. The tragedy is, in both these acts you’re losing that which cannot be lost. Let emotion be.
If the eyes have tear glands, they are not there without reason. Let them cry. If the mind can experience sadness or disappointment or attraction or anger, let it experience all that. But why must you burden any experience with the expectation of delivering you the Ultimate.
Remaining in ultimate, we laugh, jump around, go through all the emotions. Emotions are one dimension. They are one plane of living. There must be complete freedom on that plane. You must be totally free to go through all emotion. And you must be totally free to let emotion come to an end when it has exhausted its energy. In trying to fuel emotion, and this is a repetition but I must make it, in trying to fuel emotion and in trying to control emotion, you are unnecessarily expecting something from emotion that emotion cannot provide you.
Don’t you see people crying in front of their lovers? They think that emotion can give them love. Don’t you see people trying to check emotions? They think checking emotions can give them stability or stillness. Emotions are on one plane. Love and stillness are on another plane. And these two planes are not connected through self-control. When laughter comes, laugh fully. Laugh freely. If you must smile, let the smile be like a blossoming flower. And there are times when you weep like heavy clouds too.
On one hand, we talk of inner freedom. We say, “God is the final liberation.” On the other hand, we do not feel free even to laugh and cry. What kind of liberation then is God? You can’t talk to someone, you can’t touch someone, you can’t hug someone, and you’ll have God? Seriously?
Let emotion be. Don’t interfere.
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant: How to control emotions? The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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