The heavily overcast skies that had brought intermittent rain all morning, ought to have been an indicator for me to delay the morning walk. And yet, the breeze through the partly open window brought a warmth as it fluttered over the ‘morning pages’ of the journal that I had been writing over the past half hour or so. The restless ego nudged me to ignore the distinct possibility of more rain, and off I went around the development, to discover more of Nature’s variations.
I only made it halfway through, before the wind must have shifted, and I saw the first signs of the shift in the form of a multitude of small circles in one of the retention ponds at the end of the street. Turning around, I was now headed back home, but facing rain and wind as they gained speed, painting my face. The heron sitting by the pond must have seen me turn around, as it took off with its ever majestic flapping wings, perhaps towards one of the other ponds in the development.
I was only ten or so minutes into the walk and yet I had already run through a whole bunch of different emotions. The pride in having decided to walk despite the conditions, the annoyance at the onset of the rain, the relief at realizing that I wouldn’t get totally drenched before I made it back home, the exhilaration at the unexpected sighting of the heron, and much more. Ten minutes, and a plethora of emotions, many, if not all of them, seemingly ‘arising out of nowhere.’ Can one even imagine how many emotions we encounter in an hour, in all the waking hours of a day? How many of these emotional waves or currents are we even aware of, before one wave is replaced by the next? What con we do to develop better awareness of our emotions and their origins, if we want to develop ‘mastery’ over their effects on us? Why is it even important to gain ‘mastery’ over our emotions, and are there any particular ones that we need to focus on more than others?
We can begin to address the question of emotional mastery by first understanding the origin of emotions. According to the Ashtavakra Gita, “The ego can recognise the world only through its instruments of sense organs, mind and intellect.” The sense organs are the receivers, the mind is interpreter, the intellect is the instrument of discernment. The ego’s reaction to what the world feeds it on a regular basis is perhaps the seed-bed of emotions.
If we can learn to reduce what is fed to the sense organs, we can reduce the minds vagaries and restlessness, can’t we? If we quieten the mind, we can then refine, purify and strengthen our intellect, can’t we? Slowly but surely, by reducing the influence of our senses, withdrawing them from the world, we can reduce the outer noise and increase the inner signal. It is said that this is the essence of spiritual practice, of spiritual work. The result is that we purify the intellect by slowly getting rid of both, hyper-activity and aversion to activity. Dwelling in purity, the intellect will then be strong enough to control the mind, which will then control the senses, which will then control our emotional disturbances.
By taking back control from our senses, and giving it to the intellect, we can achieve emotional mastery and resilience. What comes next? We will be ready to evolve to the next level of self-mastery — the dissolution of the intellect and hence the ego, and the realization that we are one with the Infinite.
We can all get to realization — let’s begin by working on our senses and emotions, shall we?
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat and gathering of the #SpiritChat community, Sunday Dec 4 2022 at 9amET / 2pmGMT / 730pm India. We will discuss emotions and their mastery over tea and cookies. I am grateful to my good friend Gopi Maliwal for the topic suggestion. Namaste – AjmaniK