Does becoming spiritual mean becoming unemotional – won’t that make our life flat?
Transcriber: Suresh Gupta
Edited: Sharan Shetty
Question: Does becoming spiritual mean becoming unemotional – won’t that make our life flat?
Answer: It is not about becoming unemotional. Emotions are a part of who we are but if emotions become the whole of who we are, then they drive us out of control. At a mental health care centre in New Jersey, many patients who come there are quite elite. For example, one patient there was a double PhD. He was admitted there because his application for a grant was rejected. However, when his colleague applied, he got the grant despite having only a master’s degree.
Our emotions trigger us towards several responses. For example, we get angry when anything goes wrong in our life. The emotion of anger is natural and to some extent indicates that we care. Unless we care about something, we would not become angry. Anger can express itself at different levels. Some people stop talking, some start talking short snappy words, some just explode, some may start attacking others, or some may go to the extent of even shooting the other person.
Anger is a natural emotion. Expressing anger by not speaking is one level of response but shooting the other person is an entirely different level of response. When our emotions impel us to act destructively, that is when we are emotionally imbalanced. No doubt, emotions are natural. They actually bring richness to our life, but emotions alone should not decide our actions. We are also meant to use our rational side. Words spoken in haste are regretted at leisure.
There are two possibilities:
(i) we express emotions or
(ii) we repress emotions.
Spirituality does not mean that we become unemotional or repress our emotions. Spirituality means going beyond from expressing or repressing to processing emotions. We should understand that we are different from our emotions. While we acknowledge their presence, we should evaluate them based on merit and then act appropriately. In cricket when a bowler appeals, the umpire is meant to evaluate the appeal based on merit and not on its volume. Similarly, our emotions are like the fielder’s appeal and we are the umpire. The umpire should be disinterested (impartial) and not uninterested (do not care) towards the appeal. We cannot be unemotional, but we need to be able to impartially evaluate our emotions.
Our emotions can come from three sources:
(i) from the situation
(ii) from our imaginations
(iii) a combination of situation and imagination
We need to learn to discern between situation and imagination. This is what is meant by processing of emotions. If we think, spirituality means becoming unemotional, then spirituality will become very unappealing. Spirituality is about experiencing those emotions which truly matter to us. Sometimes our emotions and our values do not work together. A person’s value may be that he wants to be a caring, responsible and loving individual but his emotions may make him angry, short tempered, demanding. This can interfere with a rich value centred parameter which is why if one is able to process the emotions by understanding the situation and acting accordingly then such an emotion will lead the person not just towards right action but also towards a richer life.
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