14.22: Could our feelings be not our feelings?

by January 24, 2012

The Bhagavad-gita (14.22) explains that serious spiritual seekers distance themselves from their feelings by consciously choosing to observe those feelings instead of acting on them.

Sometimes our mind gets flooded by negative feelings like hatred toward someone with whom our relationship is strained or hopelessness while tackling a problem that is not going away.  When such feelings arise, most of us instinctively identify with them, get carried away and act in ways that we regret later. Or when faced with such feelings repeatedly, we resist them half-heartedly, fretting why we frequently get such feelings, why we have to fight with them so often and why we can’t win the fight once and for all. Overall, these negative feelings imprison us in an under-performing, self-pity mode of functioning.

Gita wisdom saves us from such under-performance by targeting its root: our misidentification with our feelings. This misidentification is challenged when, as the above Gita verse recommends, we take on the role of an observer of our feelings. When we observe our feelings dispassionately and intelligently, we will discover that those feelings are not expressions of our authentic values and concerns, expressions that need to be carefully addressed; rather, they are merely projections of the changing social fads and individual moods, projections that can and should be firmly neglected.

When we thus recognize that not all of our feelings are our feelings, we become free to find more productive use of our mind than to serve as dumping grounds for the world’s negativity.


The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O son of Pandu, he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honor and dishonor; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities – such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.

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