Every moment, life offers you a situation from which you can learn. Forget the spirituality, forget the techniques, stay there, and listen to what is presented to you. Each moment, you can see something. Vision is the heart of the world, the reason for life, its fire, its dynamics, its alchemy. Learn to let your eyes open.
To see means to look at how I, others and the world work, without the slightest movement of justification, without trying to prove that I am right or wrong. Look, just that. Let’s talk about emotions, these feelings that cross me a million times a day. We forget that we are emotional beings, because over time our emotions have left their state of organic and free movement to crystallized into patterns of defenses. I feel fear rising, jealousy or discomfort, and I create a subterfuge in order to not feel. Every day, I’m only looking for one thing: escaping situations and the sensations that arise in them. I see that, and this is where the look begins to open; this is where richness will penetrate my life. It is a return to oneself, to the most essential intimacy.
Change Your Perspective | Byron Katie
Byron Katie calls this process “The Work”. This movement of returning to oneself consists of questioning my gaze on the usual situation and in dissecting it. Katie asks “what would you be without the thought ‘my lover should love me more … my son should talk to me … my wife should take care of me better … my husband should respect me … my parents should accept me as I am, etc.’?” The situation is what it is, it is only my opinion that is the cause of my suffering. Thought is the source of my misery, of my sadness. Instead, what if I return to myself, investigate my reaction while listening to the situation as it is.
All the religions of the world, all the spiritualities and the philosophies find their source in this questioning in the face of the felt emotion. Suffering, fear, sadness, nostalgia, desire, joy, satisfaction, disgust, rejection. Everything is there to be observed and relearn to let live the inevitable emotion that crosses me when it presents itself.
The source of all emotions is joy | Abhinavagupta
In the 11th century, Abhinavagupta asked why in the arts such as theater, poetry or in viewing an artistic work can I joyfully give myself to the evoked emotion such as sadness, despair or anger, while in everyday life, I resist and suffer from these same emotions? Let us transpose the question into today’s world. I go to the cinema to see dramas, horror movies or suspense films. However, the emotions of sadness, fear or anguish experienced during the film do not traumatize me, on the contrary, I experience a great tranquility at the end of the movie. Yet I cried all the tears in my body, felt my throat tighten and my stomach contract. Why does feeling these emotions that I experience during the film make me happy and calm, while in everyday life, these same situations turn into trauma? Because in everyday life, emotion is blocked, rejected, camouflaged, avoided. For Abhinavagupta, the source of all emotion is joy. A fully lived emotion, whatever it may be, brings you back to joy. That’s why during the movie I am actually happy to have felt the sadness, joyful to have lived the fear, joyful not to have blocked the anguish.
With a more modern approach, Peter Levine explains that an emotion that has been blocked in the situation will crystallize and remain in the psyche and the body until it can free itself. Conversely, an emotion totally lived and felt, without rejection and without defense, will be eliminated and leave no trace. There is no past trauma, there is only one lived emotion that remains to exist in my body and mind permanently until it has completely eliminated itself. My trauma is an emotion that has not been lived to the end and its energy unfolded in its totality — it will persist in me in a recurring way. Moreover, in the course of time and accumulated traumas, I no longer approach any situation of life in a new way, for what it is, that is to say without references. Rather, I spend my time replaying the lived emotion. If I have been abused, the situations of my life will be seen through my pattern of abuse. If I have been abandoned, I will put myself in similar situations, or even unconsciously push the other person to abandon me to recreate this known situation of abandonment or rejection.
The work is then to start exploring the possibility that emotion can be tackled differently, that there is another way. Emotion must be felt, throughout my body, in all my being. This is where the tools of an exploration, such as Kashmirian Yoga offers, for example, to intervene to discover the moment when I block, to bring to light my mechanism of defense when an emotion appears, and thus, little by little, to find again this state where my emotion can live, and finally eliminate itself, leaving no trace in my body or my psyche.
Suffering in the spiritual journey – Abdel Kader and Rumi
“If we now consider beings under the state of their metaphysical realities (al-haqa’iq al-ghaybiyya), whatever happens to them suits them. Moreover, nothing happens to them which is not required by their essential nature “
In this first sentence, excerpt from the Book of Halts, Abdel Kader, an eminent Sufi of the 19th century, explains that nothing happens that is negative or positive in itself. Anything that presents itself to me must happen. It is only my own judgment that, from the personal viewpoint of thought, classifies the events of my life as successes or failures. Moreover, in the second sentence, the Emir affirms that in the very nature of the world anything that happens is not only inevitable, but also essentially necessary and cannot but be. In other words, there is no error, there is nothing missing. What life brings me is exactly what I needed — an opportunity to come back to myself, observe my functioning.
Abdel Kader further describes the emotions of pain, suffering and sadness as inevitable on the path of the mystic, for “it is because man cannot by himself escape from this pain, that the most great saints wept, groaned, sighed, asked for help and prayed that these sufferings would be spared them”. Rumi, in Book 2 of his famous Masnavi (verse 3645), presents a parable in which a man is sent by his king to find the branch of a tree that brings all the knowledge of the world. Thus, the man goes in search for years, but never finds the tree and finally returns to the king crying, his spine broken by the heaviness of the impossible task and years of unsuccessful wandering. In this story, the king is none other than God, and the man the devout one on the path of Truth. For Sufism, the emotion of suffering experienced during the spiritual quest is a recurrent matter. The culminating moment is that of total despondency, where there is no energy left to advance and only tears pour out; all hope is dead, all dynamics consumed. That is when God comes. The devotee, in which there is no longer any movement to go towards anything, to get out of any situation, ready to die, is then in an ideal position to receive the mystical teaching.
Psychic and physical suffering leave space to clear understanding — the discrimination of the elusive Reality, huwa, in which he can recognize that which seems bad to him in the moment is actually the way towards understanding the essential nature of things. Abdel Kader explains that the metaphysical huwa is neither personified nor determined: it is not by the third person, nor any multiplicity to which it could refer. Huwa is without reference, it is transcendent. It reflects Allah who is beyond any multiplier, beyond any context. It is the reflection of Allah who is beyond any multiple, beyond any given context. Allah, the only true Reality, is neither conceivable nor explicable. He is the only essence of all things in this world.
“What did he find who lost You?
And what has lost the one who found You? “
It is then at the meeting of the emotions that I start my journey, to encounter the being that I am, ready to give up on everything — my ideas, my world, my problems and my hopes. Happiness appears to me as fabricated as unhappiness, and I discover behind these masks a reality much deeper than I had ever suspected. There is no escape, the desire to see clearly becomes an emergency that carries me beyond any decision. Emotions appear in my life to show me everything I have not yet been able to confront. Life has its own reasons that we cannot understand. Grace appears every moment, when I deeply understand that all that stands on my path is right and could not be otherwise. There is no error, only infinite opportunities to grow to ourselves. With the utmost confidence, I place myself in the hands of God.
Life is a continuous journey, an invitation to a constant return to oneself. It is necessary to stop violating it by asking events to be different from what they are, expecting people to be more this or more that. You have to stop trying to change yourself. You must listen. Ardently look. Fear is not frightening, violence is not violent, nor is joy joyful. It is necessary to investigate the emotion in its marrow, and for this, one must return within oneself, the eyes bathed in tenderness for each suffering, every limit, every fear that I meet. The only profound freedom is in this investigation, in this return to the heart of my being.