Incredible…again and again, it happens, and we think, next time we’ll learn…but no, we don’t.
Truly, our emotions make fools of us. When we are swayed by emotion and feelings, rationality takes a back seat; the emotions cloud one’s judgement, and we start justifying our actions to ourselves, saying that because of a, b, c reasons, what we are doing is the only course possible.
Another person does something that we feel to be wrong. We lose our equilibrium over it, and decide on a course of action–well, more a reaction to the other person’s action– which is, in a different way, also incorrect.
We still the small voice within us that tells us, no matter what the behaviour of another person may be, we should not put ourselves also in the wrong. When friends point out something that is incorrect in our own hehaviour,we cut the friends off, much as we cut off our inner voice. At this time of roused emotions and stirred feelings, we do not want to hear anything except our own point of view; we want to feel justified in what we are doing.
It’s incredibly difficult not to let emotions and feelings rule us…all our efforts to conquer our emotions seem to fail within a split second when our feelings reach a flashpoint, and a normally rational response is destroyed by our emotional storm. The tsunami of feelings rages, and the calm landscape of our minds is laid waste.
I think it is freedom from the rough and tumble of our emotions that the Buddha speaks of as serenity…that calm in the face of both happiness and sorrow that gives us Nirvana…perfect tranquillity. But for the average human being, that serenity is as far out of reach as the far side of the moon.
It’s easy to think that one has found that serenity, when things are going well. It is when the tides turn against us that we come up against the negative emotions and find that we are, after all, still being tossed upon the roller-coaster ride that our emotions take us on.
There is a beautiful bhajan by Guru Nanak, which talks of the qualities of such a human being:
jO nar dukh mein dukh nahin mAney sukh saneh aru bhay nahin jAkey kanchan mAti jAney…
aru nindA stuthi bhay nahin jiskO lObh mOh abhimAnA harash sankatEy rahE niyAri nAhin mAn apmAna….
AshA man kA sakal thyAg key jagtey rahEy nirAshA kAm krOdh jehi tharsEy nAhin jyoon hi ghat brahm nivAsA
guru kirupa jinhi nar pE keenhin thinhi ih jugti picchAnhi… nAnak leen bhayO gObind sO jyoon pAni sang pAni…
The man who does not see sorrow in sorrow, Who is equally unfraid of pleasure and attachment, He knows gold to be mud…
The man who is not afraid of scorn or praise, Who is immune to greed,infatuation or egotism; He retains his calm in both happiness and in crisis; He has no sense of pride, or shame…
The man who has given up all the desires of his mind, And lives, desireless; The one whom neither lust nor anger can oppress… Therein lives the BrahmaN.
The man who has the mercy of his Guru Is followed by the world; Nanak wants to be one with the lord (Gobind) Like water becomes one with water…
Er…no. Nothing has happened to ME…this is just a philosophical, rhetorical, academic reflection!