Selfhood and emotionality – Part 2

I am. By Amy Elyse Stringer, London

Photography: Amy Elyse Stringer, London

As selfhood arises conflict forms within

In part 1, we discussed how our sense of self acts as the perpetuator of emotions, noting that in selfhood, we set our being in opposition to those which are negative. We seek to control their existence by initiating conflict or by means of escape. So there’s the activation of a controlling self which comes into being as the mind adjudges an emotion to be bad and in need of a fix. We saw that this activated self, in creating an enemy which it opposes, paradoxically becomes the perpetuator of the very thing it seeks release from. A pacified approach is therefore needed.

Pacifying our responses allows harmless action

This may not at first appear logical, or even possible. By definition, an emotion is not a pacified state; there’s a psychological heat generated in emotionality which demands a response, stirring action. Some responses may be helpful, but many can be harmfully misguided. So the pacified approach isn’t entirely action-less, though it is as regards the emanations of the self. That means not indulging activities based on the idea that the emotion must be overcome by force of will or distraction – initiating conflict in words or deed, or seeking escape in displacement activities.

Negativity passes away in selflessness

Responding passively, we remind ourselves that emotions, which alone are thoughts and feelings, need not be indulged. This entails coolly refusing to plot how our imagined self will enter into conflict or seek escape. We note the tendency to act, yet don’t follow through on the intent. In this way, we find the unpleasant feelings soon begin to subside. Passively dwelling in the dissipating negative emotion, and not indulging the controlling inclinations of selfhood, these now purposeless feelings have nothing to cleave to. They loosen their grip on our being.

Patiently we observe feelings fading

As the continued existence of such negative feelings is both conditioned by and dependent upon the thoughts of the controlling self, so then they dissolve in its absence. The feelings no longer have any narrative to cleave to and sustain them, and must fade away because of this. Note though, that this fading of feelings is gradual, it being a physical process occurring in the body’s nervous system which takes a minute or two to stabilise. So we stick with it, observing the feelings mindfully. As the body’s chemistry reverts to the norm, we find the unpleasantness fades.

In passivity we await a return to equilibrium

There’s no effort to smash unpleasant feelings out with a denying intent. Rather, we simply observe them in order to focus attention away from self-based thoughts. Remember, if we allow our thinking to harness to the feelings then together the two perpetuate the negative emotion. As attention rests passively in feeling, and we act only selflessly if at all, then the unpleasantness subsides and we regain equilibrium. So as negative emotions arise, we stay passive as regards all ideas of conflict and displacement activities. We refuse to allow the self to get involved.

Intent is just thought, we need not act upon it

All of this is what is meant when speaking in part 1 of contemplatively observing the controlling intentions of selfhood. These intentions will continue to flash before the mind; this is because they’re so deeply ingrained in us. So we need to be very mindfully aware of their presence and not grant any extension into words or deed. That’s why we permit only selfless thinking, meaning thoughts which conduce only to what harmlessly assists and cools the situation. Often though, such as when we’re alone, we simply observe the gradual dissipation of the feelings.

Emotional intelligence allows us to change

Some will argue that their current approach is best. They may perhaps say they feel better for having verbally attacked the person they think caused the negativity. Or they may claim that displacing the unpleasantness with tangential activity is highly efficient. The problem with both of these responses is that they deny any learning as to the real nature of emotions and how they perpetuate in selfhood. So the negative emotions keep returning; another person is lashed out at, or once again the head gets buried in the sand – there’s no intelligence shown here.

We need not stick with our old behaviours

When we verbally attack someone, we set about winning an argument which of course can feel good if succeeded in. It feeds the ego and strengthens ideas of superiority. Whilst it’s possible to confront with compassion so as to benefit the other and as a last resort, these are rare circumstances. Almost always, verbal assaults are egocentric issuances of selfhood. We wrongly perceive that our negative emotion is directly caused by the other, whereas invariably its primary cause is our own life conditioning. We deny any responsibility and instead apportion blame.

The selfish mind acts irresponsibly in escapism

And when we seek escape from this unpleasantness with displacement activities, we again fail to take responsibility. We’re in effect saying that we’d rather remain ignorant about the workings of our own body and mind; we’d rather disown these personally conditioned resultants. It’s as if the imagined self claims arrogantly to know what’s best for us whilst denying its own past complicity. An immaturity is assumed as the self treats our own being as if it were a child to be distracted from upset with candy. There’s a duplicitous abnegation of integrity and truthfulness.

The cultured mind accepts the simple truth

So the interplay of selfhood and emotionality deeply impacts upon our well-being and development as mature adults, and the cultured mind remains vigilant when emotions arise. It’s not a matter of intellect or individual appropriateness. Powerful emotions remain thoughts and feelings alone. Complex emotions are only so due to the complexity of the thought streams. Thought isn’t our true nature, nor are caused feelings or self-narrative. These transient phenomena appear yet never are our essential being. Seeing this clearly, we find emotion simplifies.

26 thoughts on “Selfhood and emotionality – Part 2

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article Val; it is gratifying indeed to know that one such as yourself should consider my offerings.

      With gratitude and respect.

      Hariod. ❤

  1. Wonderful article, Hariod. You speak so clearly and truthfully. I also want to thank you for – and I can’t remember where on your site it is – a link to Mooji: Two laughing yogis. I enjoyed it very much, and am listening to his videos.

    Laughing is such good medicine, especially deep laughter from the heart. It always, sort of, clears anything I might be holding on to.

    Somehow, when I first followed you, my reader was blocking your writings from showing up in my email. I think I have that fixed now, and look forward to your offerings.

    With deep respect,

    Mary.

    • Thankyou so much, dear Mary, for casting your eyes over this offering and for leaving such generous words of encouragement; I truly do appreciate both, and am indeed humbled by your revered presence here.

      And yes, Mooji is a pure delight isn’t he? I must say, I tend not to watch videos on matters spiritual, yet Mooji is a pleasure to hear whenever I encounter him. I feel the same about Rupert Spira too, who seems equally authentic.

      Ah, the dreaded WordPress Reader – I know. I rely more upon email notifications of new posts from blogs I subscribe to, but that too is unreliable unfortunately, and a combination of the two appears the only way to go.

      With much gratitude and respect,

      Hariod.

  2. Hopefully, I will be getting your posts in my email now. Yes, I was struck by the authenticity in Mooji’s eyes and laughter. I don’t know of Rupert Spira. I will have to look him up.

    Joy to you today, Hariod.

    Mary

    • I rather like this one of his, Mary. Although he here is addressing just one person and their particular obstacles, the engagement is powerful and profound. I may be drawn to him as he couches the whole in similar terms to myself, focusing on the deceptive nature of the subject/object dichotomy in particular. Anyway, I thought I would put this video up here as it may come in useful for others at some later point.

      Blessings on the day, Mary.

  3. I love this video, Hariod. Thank you! Yes, “the deceptive nature of the subject/object dichotomy” is something I work with a lot in myself. I know it to be true cognitively, and I still am often in the subject/object place. I deeply look forward to getting past that, into pure knowingness of consciousness. I get drawn back into a ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘us’, ‘them’ mentality. I long to be in the holographic transparency where all is truly one, all the time. Not quite there yet. The illusion still holds me somehow. I like what he said about Maya not being the problem, but the ignorance that it is real.

    Peace, Mary.

    • Well, our brains have evolved to operate within that dichotomy, so it takes quite some shaking off, naturally enough. More than 40,000 years of evolution – roughly the length of time our species has been manipulating concepts in language – occludes our seeing that awareness is seamless, and that our entire knowledge of our lives is nothing other than this seamless, non-dual awareness. That being said, then as Rupert Spira suggests in the video, the brain continues to organise matters in a dualistic way so as to give us navigable points of reference in a world that really does exist outside of the body. So, I think we can all agree on what you affirm in your closing sentence, Mary, and that in a sense, nothing changes, that there is still a spatial separation, yet our knowledge of that separation is known as a mind-construct alone – a dualistic play within a non-dual, seamless and non-local awareness. We all have different ways of expressing these things, I know, so I hope you will forgive me for indulging my own so unnecessarily here.

      Blessings on the day once again my noble friend, Hariod.

  4. Yes, I see what you mean. I have had out of body experiences, and they are outside of this reality. I can’t even find this reality when there. Part of me wants to spend more time there. I am more often in the body, though. I guess I still need to learn how to just use the mind’s “navigable points of reference” instead of identifying with the duality. I like that idea. Sometimes I love duality. It brings such contrast to life – dark, light, deep emotions of happiness as well as deep into shadow, but I don’t like the “us and them” part. I’d like that to go away. Feeling deeply is a gift. Sometimes I can be in between both realities. I know I need to be here now, though. I need to learn some stuff still in this body, and to help out where I can. I guess I can’t expect to be rid of duality just like that (haha), with 40,000 years of evolution behind it.

    My, how I have run on! Thanks for saying noble friend. That word has special meaning to me.

    Blessings and light to you today, Hariod.

    Mary

    • This is so lovey, Mary, and I greatly appreciate your candour on the matter. Almost inevitably in any brief conversation such as this, the odd wire may get crossed, and I think I have perhaps suggested a meaning I had not intended to in my last comment. When I referred to “a non-dual, seamless and non-local awareness” I was not suggesting anything such as O.O.B. experiences. They always occur in separation, or rather within the idea of separation, whereas in fact there is no separation in awareness which itself is not localised, or spatially-referenced in any way. [Using the term ‘awareness’ here as distinct from brain-produced ‘consciousness’.] In other words, during any O.O.B. experience there remains the conscious idea of a self-entity yet one which migrates from the physical body to occupy other – i.e. separate – space outside of the physical body. The illumination of this conscious idea is (what I call) awareness, and which again is non-dual, seamless and non-local, and so permits of no separation such as consciousness conceives. I must apologise for any confusion in my phraseology.

      Thankyou so much for such an enjoyable and interesting engagement, dear Mary – I do appreciate it, and hope we have many more over the years.

      With much gratitude, and deeper yet respect,

      Hariod.

  5. Perhaps I used the wrong phrase. I guess they weren’t so much O.O.B.’s as much as an awareness of all being one. Hard to explain. It wasn’t like being out of and looking at my body, it was more like floating in golden bliss in pure awareness. My body was with me, I guess, only in different form – part of what I was floating in. At other times, I was in body and aware enough to keep breathing, but it was outside of time and space, language and duality. Would you see those experiences as separation? It didn’t feel like it. It felt all encompassing. I respect your thoughts and understanding. When I am sitting here now, I can only see non-duality as a mental construct. My mind still sees me and this chair as separate, but the idea of non-duality is very present.

    It must be afternoon for you there. I am just having my second cup of coffee. I hope you are having a peace filled day, Hariod.

    Mary

    • I suppose this conversation demonstrates well the sheer impossibility of putting one’s understanding into the subjective experience of the other, Mary. On occasion I have written here about apprehending non-duality, and yet it has largely gone unnoticed by readers, as if it were just some odd way of describing everyday consciousness. I think language is the problem, and in our using it we at once fall into error, so to speak, in describing experiences such as those that you, myself, and many others, have had. Perhaps a slightly simpler way of looking at it would be something like this:

      If there is a unicity, then necessarily and by definition there is nothing outside of, nor separate to, it. Consciousness, which is a construct of the brain, habitually ignores this unicity in creating a matrix of subjectivity and objectivity, of self and other, of ‘me here’ and ‘the world out there’ i.e. separation. So, it is consciousness – as a mental construct, which is just what it is – that occludes our apprehending of this unicity. Still, what illuminates consciousness (what I call ‘awareness’ and you call ‘pure awareness’), is not a fabrication of the mind, and so is not subject to the dichotomy of consciousness itself. Apprehending non-duality is simply this awareness knowing itself as itself, as it is, and not as an object of consciousness, an image of itself such as a mood, or emotion, or idea. As I say, this is quite possibly what you are referring to when you use the phrase ‘pure awareness’, Mary, so I think all our words are doing their best to point to the same thing-less thing.

      Two cups of coffee for you? My nerves start to jangle if I have a second. I only drink fresh ground coffee, and quite strongly brewed at that, but can only tolerate the one. Actually, I have only quite recently started drinking it again after several years without, and now it once again has become routine. It would be good to share a pot with you, Mary, and we could spend an hour or two failing to find the right words in talking about all this, only to descend into laughter in final exasperation perhaps?

      Much love,

      Hariod.

  6. Hahaha! Yes, we should share a pot of tea, so as not to get the jitters, and talk for a couple of hours about this awareness knowing itself as itself, as it is, and not as an object of consciousness, and point to the same thing-less thing – all around in circles.

    Yes, and laughing in final exasperation as to how words just can’t describe certain thing-less things. Your simplified paragraph, however, said it all quite nicely. I have enjoyed our little chat, Hariod, very much.

    Much love to you too,

    Mary.

    • Hello Ka, what a delightful visit, which I’m most touched by – thankyou. Coincidentally, I was thinking about you on two or three occasions this past fortnight, and wondering if you had withdrawn from the blogosphere, as I have received no notifications from your site. Is it WordPress playing up yet again, or have you indeed been quiet? Love and blessings to you, dear Ka. Hariod ❤

      • Hello Hariod,

        Your reply brings a smile to my face. I am still posting, so I’m not quite sure what is happening, but the same has happened with yours. Thank you for your love and blessings, as I return to you with the spirit of cheer. Good day to you, Hariod – always grateful for our moments of exchange, here and there, and everywhere.

        Aloha, Ka.

        • Solved it! You were in my list of subscriptions but were unticked for receiving email notifications – I rarely use the WP Reader. I think what happened was that I unticked lots of blogs when I went away for a couple of weeks, and along with some others, yours was not re-initiated later. I thought I’d gone through them all meticulously upon my return – I have close to 120 subscriptions – so rather suspect it’s a WordPress glitch and not one of my own, particularly as I hear of such occurrences so frequently. Anyway, all is now good, I trust.

          Mahalo, Ka!

          • Hi Hariod,

            There’s such an amazing aspect to life where things sometimes sort themselves out! You know, I was just over at your new post and am about to head off to my meditation group, but I thought I’d read Lorrie’s post first, and saw her reply to you commending you on your Haiku. And then … I am also writing poetry lately (as are others I know), and then … I saw this Peace! Collection. 😉 Looking forward to replying to another comment of yours soonish.

            Aloha! Ka

            • Thankyou very much, dear Ka. I have to say, it was Lorrie that spotted a haiku buried within my comment, and it was entirely unintentional on my part. She obviously has a very keen sense of detecting the five, seven, five, pattern, even when disguised within a jumble of other syllables. A couple of people have recently suggested I have a go at poetry, oddly enough, but I really don’t think I have what’s necessary. I look forward to reading your own creative efforts with poetry before too long, and am sure they would surpass in quality anything I might slowly conjure into existence. 🙂

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