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Taking feelings seriously?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
8 min
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Questioner: Nowadays whenever I feel that I should not do something, I don't do it. I'm not planning much and this includes me not offering prayers to God. Is this okay?

Acharya Prashant: Arun (Questioner), that which we call as a feeling is not really so internal that may deserve to be heartfully followed. You're saying, these days you don't offer prayers to God when you don't feel like. These days you don't bow down to God. I don't know much about that but what is certain is that you do bow down to feelings. So, you might not be offering prayers to God but you are praying to feelings.

Who is God? The one, worthy of being surrendered to. If you choose to be dictated by the ebb and flow of feelings and emotions and instincts and intuitions, then feelings are your God. You might even feel like playing, some other time in a different mood and then you might indeed pray. Even then your prayer is subservient to your feelings. You prayed only because you firstly felt like praying.

If our prayers and our God are secondary to our feelings then we are praying to no one else but our own petty self from where all feelings arise.

It's alright to not be dictated by the external, by the outside. But it's not at all alright to allow the same external to guide you by disguising itself as the internal. Your feelings are really not your feelings at all. It is a mistake to be identified with the one who feels.

Where are all your feelings when you were off to sleep? What happens to one kind of feeling when the mood changes? What happens to even very strong feelings when in the middle of the surge of the feeling, you receive a contrary piece of news? What happens to one kind of feeling when another kind of feeling overrides it? Don't you see what these feelings are? The regular madness of the mind. And to make the situation even more pitiable, it is an imported madness. It is a madness that you have needlessly taken upon yourself.

You are taught to feel. You are trained and conditioned to feel, partly by your genes and mostly by the environment you are born and brought up in. The food you eat, the things you come in contact with, the people you stay with, the music you listen to, the TV serials that you watch, the religious precepts that you follow— all of that comes together as a disjoint, amorphous, incoherent mass called as feelings. This mass has no centrality, it is not crystallized; it has no oneness. That is why your feelings are so desperate, that is why feelings are so fickle. That is why you often repent over your feelings.

One basic tenet of wisdom; the moment you find feelings surging in your mind, in your body, careful, pay attention! That is the moment when you lose the game. That is the moment when a shift of center takes place. And you do have some time to respond. It does not happen immediately. It's almost like the rise of water level during a tide, a high tide. It’s swift but not instantaneous. You get time, you can watch, you can adjust. You can know it's the same thing happening. You can know that the same old forces are coming together again to overpower you. If you will identify with feelings then you will support them.

The initial surge of energy that a feeling has is beyond your consciousness; you do not know where it is coming from. It is so automatic that you have neither consciousness of it nor control over it. It just happens. You watch something and without planning, without any warning, something just happens within, as if a button has been pushed, as if a raw nerve has been touched, you react. The reaction could be of happiness, jealousy, sadness, excitement, fear, anything.

That initial reaction comes from a tendency that is so deeply embedded in you that you cannot really trace it. It's extremely difficult. So, the enemy will come from an unknown direction. You will not know where he has really originated from. It's dark all around. You do not know from where he has made his way towards you. But the moment he fires the first shot, you have located him. You know where he is. The moment you detect the first lump in your throat, the moment you detect the first rush of blood to your ears and to your cheeks, the moment you detect that your hands have started trembling in excitement, the moment you detect that your brain activity is rapidly multiplying, you must know that the enemy has arrived. Now, it doesn't matter from where and how, but he has arrived. Something is rising. Something wants to take control of you. Something wants to overpower and possess you.

Now is the moment. Don't yield, don't support the feeling. Don't add conscious energy to the unconscious uprising. I repeat, most of us are pretty helpless when it comes to the initial reaction called the feeling. That initial reaction can hardly be helped. But the moment the initial reaction has happened, the reaction itself is now a mark on the radar of your consciousness. Now, you know that you are besieged. Now, you must know that you have been attacked. Now, attention! Now care, now composure.

A friend is not approaching you, it's a foe. The smile, the warmness, the deception, don't be taken in. Energy feels lively and offers you security, and a sense of doership. Feelings often come with an upsurge of energy. Don't be deceived. This energy is not going to help you. It makes you feel in control, it makes you feel powerful, doesn't it? In your moment of anger, in your moment of excitement, you feel bigger than what you usually are. These hands, which are otherwise so very normal and ordinary, in a fit of anger, these hands feel like having ten times the power they usually have. But don't be deceived. This energy, this same energy will turn upon you. It will consume you. I repeat, it is not there as your friend.

One of the marks, rather the most important mark of a wise man is that he does not live by feelings. You can give feelings any name; they remain the same. Know, understand, realize, melt, flow, disappear, that is a totally different thing. That is not the same as feeling.

In deep love, in meditation, your daily troubles are gone. Your daily experience of tension and separation and division has disappeared. It is beautiful. But it is not a feeling. Do you get it?

Your emotions, your feelings are not what make you beautiful. It is a very common misperception that emotions make us human; they don't. Whatsoever is precious about life is not really an emotion or a feeling. It is not even an intuition. A bird flying freely is so lost in the flight that it does not really feel anything. The feeler itself has dissolved in the sky. Who would feel? Love too, if it is real cannot be felt.

Same question, the lovers have merged and disappeared into each other and thereby into God. Who is left to feel? You have better things to live by Arun. Live by your heart, live by love, live by beauty. And then if you don't offer prayers it is very much alright because then life itself is a prayer.

Q: If feelings are not there then what about Krishna? He had feelings, that’s why he helped Arjuna. Why did he help Arjuna?

AP: But you already know the answer. You're saying Krishna had feelings, therefore he helped Arjuna. Next, you ask, “Why did he help Arjuna?” Why are you asking a question after first asserting the answer? We are such seers that we know not only Krishna but also the heart of Krishna, the motivation of Krishna, the relationship of Krishna. We have just known it all, been there, done it (speaking in sarcasm).

Why did Arjuna receive help from Krishna? To know that, just go close to the help itself. The help is by the name of Bhagavadgītā. Go to the help, understand the help, and then you will also understand the helper and the helped. What was the nature of that help? Know that and then you will know whether such help can arise out of a feeling or of something immensely more immense.

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