|Chapter 5.0 from "Study Circles for Divinity"|
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5.0 MANAGING EMOTIONS- INTRODUCTION
Many of us have wondered why it is that our emotions play such a significant role in our too-short lives. Mostly when we are in the grip of despair, grief, anger, resentment or pain, we wonder how such terrible states could be part of a perfect Divine plan. Joy, too, seems imperfect - it comes too fleetingly, and there is disappointment when the much sought-after delight begins to fade yet again. Our mind heightens both the pinnacles and troughs of feeling, creating the illusion that 'this joy will last' and its mournful opposite 'this darkness will never cease'.
What can we say about this unsatisfactory state of affairs? How can we begin to find that essential meaning which can give us hope and the perseverance to find the door to a more lasting peace and happiness?
Lord Sathya Sai Baba has often said "Nature is the best teacher" and, as a corollary, "Nature is the best preacher". He uses examples from Nature to explain to us why pain, grief, anger and fear are not part of a cruel, cosmic joke, but instead they are powerful forces which we can harness for good, for love, and for everlasting delight.
Lord Sai explains that sugar is the end result of the traumatic series of events undergone by the unsuspecting sugarcane, that the lustre and value of the diamond appear only after it loses this part and that part of its rough raw shape, and that the royal crown and ornament are the final outcome for the gold after the fiery crucible and the cruel blows of the hammer. In the same way, He says, we are being shaped and evolved into discovering our true sweetness, our limitless value and beauty, our awesome, inherent grandeur.
Sometimes the analogy of the light and shadow is helpful in making sense of the emotions which disturb our inner equanimity. When we examine Nature, we find that the shadow is not real. It is simply an absence of light. Something is blocking the light. By comparison, our anguish and pathos are not real. They simply indicate that our mind and emotions are blocking the awareness of our true selves - our inner, everlasting joy and peace.
So it is the mind that is the key! How does that knowledge help us? Let us look at the shadow again. All shadows in the world, no matter how large or small, have one thing in common - they all point towards the light. What a precious discovery! Our agony is showing us its very cause as the shadow shows us its very source. When we turn the mind towards the light, towards God, towards our true Self, we can see the walls our thoughts have been building to block the infinite joy and bliss perpetually shining out from within each one of us. Our task is to remove these walls and be who we really are.
In this chapter, we explore four of the most powerful emotions that can dominate our lives - anger, fear, grief, and joy - and we examine how the mind plays its part, both in locking us into the darkness and releasing us into unshakeable peace, joy and love..
In the first section on 'Anger' we learn that, in contrast to the urging of modern psychologists, theologians and politicians to 'maintain the rage' and to express our 'righteous wrath', Lord Sai defines anger as one of the most evil forces besetting man today. Once we begin to study His teachings on this topic we realise that anger is the worst enemy of love and unity. In the human body in which we reside, one hand does not get angry at the other, for they are of one body. We also come to see that, instead of using anger as a weapon to smash the ego of another, we can use it to destroy our own ego by directing its power against the habits that bind us.
The section on 'Fear' awakens us to a sense of our indestructibility; of our true nature being that Love which knows no fear, for there is no 'other' of which to be afraid - there is only the One. It is a topic which can be studied again and again, for each one of us has the urge within us to live in absolute fearlessness, to dare to be true to our conscience, to live as mightily and grandly as our Lord Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
When we explore the topic of 'Grief', we learn that its presence is a signpost or signal that we have "developed attachment towards the unreal". Grief serves to remind us that we are locked into identifying with the body, into the compelling illusion of separateness, into believing that people and things can come and go, and into the delusion that happiness comes from 'outside' ourselves rather than being ever-present within. Grief rips us open, makes us reflect, and tears down the walls of our ignorance, so that we cry out and reach for union in a more complete way. We are crushed so our sugar so sweet can come forth.
In the section on 'Joy - Bliss' we are reminded that 'what we are looking for is what is looking' - the musk deer finally discovers that it is the source of the beautiful aroma it has roamed the earth searching for. We seek to have union with this object, this sensation, this money, this person; each time gaining momentary pleasure from the satisfaction of the desire, then suffering at its loss or unattainability. Lord Sai clarifies for us that only union with the All, with God, brings true joy and lasting happiness; for then we are swimming in the ocean of the Self, whose true nature is Bliss.
The final section in this chapter is on 'Mind'. We learn from the range of quotations of Lord Sai that lasting peace and happiness will only be ours when the mind becomes the servant of the intellect, the conscience, the Inner Voice, and the master, not the servant, of the senses. We learn that the most important task for the mind is to inquire, "Who am I? Who am I?", until we go beyond the mind and rest in the 'Universal I', in the Atma, in the true Self.
The five Study Circle topics in this chapter - 'Anger', 'Fear', 'Grief', 'Joy' and 'Mind' - are immediately relevant for each one of us. Not one person will remain unchanged as the discussions unfold. All will be blessed with a new understanding, a new hope, a higher meaning, and a determination to inherit our birthright of peace of mind and everlasting bliss.
"Life is a game, play it. Life is a challenge, meet it."
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