How can we practically keep our intention above our emotion?
Transcribed by: Keshavgopal Das
bQuestion: How can we practically keep our intention above our emotion?
Answer: Keeping intentions above emotions is the battle of a sadhaka. Broadly speaking there are three aspects to it – (i) some emotions come from physical reality (ii) some from imagination (iii) some from a combination of both.
Let us understand with the help of examples.
Suppose I fell down and fracture my hand. I will feel pain. Now if I say, I will keep my intention above my emotion and will lift this big bag, I will be injuring myself. Thought of lifting a heavy bag with a fractured hand is stupidity. Similarly, if I want to wake up in the morning, but I slept very late, then physically waking up early may not be possible. When an emotion is arising from a physical reality, then we have to acknowledge that reality.
Next aspect is when the emotion is arising only from the mind. For example, I have slept enough, but still feel lazy. Some day when we chant we feel “japa should never end” while at some day we feel “japa never ends”! Such emotions are rising from the mind as there is no physical stimulus. This emotion is just a mood-swing. Such are the emotions that need to be resisted.
Sometimes a child falls down deliberately and starts crying to get attention. There is no need for crying but just to get attention child behaves so. That is the kind of emotion which is unhealthy and needs to be avoided. If we give to such emotions, we will tend to do unhealthy things.
Most often our emotions are neither of these two extremes. They do not arise only from the mind or only from the body. For example, if I am very particular about punctuality and finds that someone has not come on time. For a normal person, this situation will attract some negative reaction, but since I am very particular about punctuality, I become wild and overreact. Here the emotion has come both because of the situation and my particular disposition.
When we say keep our intentions above our emotions that means that the emotions are being stimulated by the modes without any basis in physical reality.
If I decide that I will not be angry on anyone, but if someone does something which upsets me, at that time I cannot wish away the fact that they have upset me. That annoyance, irritation will be there, and I will tend to overreact on this. For me it is important, but for others it may not be so important. In this situation, let me not respond immediately, calm down and then respond.
Sometimes, the emotion may determine that we should respond, but the emotion should not determine how we respond. So, a balance has to be maintained.
The more we come to the mode of goodness, the more we can perceive the reality and the emotion as two separate things. We cannot wish away the emotion, but understand that in a given situation, the emotion is excessive right now, so need to balance. In the mode of goodness, we can perceive things largely as they are. We do not let emotion alone determine the reaction, we respond in an appropriate way.
In order to be determined, we need to make a realistic plan. In the name of being determined, if we have unrealistic expectations from ourselves, then it is not going to work. It will also weaken our morale internally. When we decide, it has to be based on assessment of reality and acknowledgement, that when these things change I will do some adjustment. For example, I decide that I will read Bhagavatam for half hour every day. It’s a good determination, but sometimes life become so busy, what to speak of half hour, we do not have few minutes. So, the plan could be modified. If I cannot read half hour every day, I will read three and half hour every week. Some days I will read more. Determination should be there to get to the goal and not necessarily stick to a particular path to reach that goal.
End of transcription.