Acharya Prashant: Emotional outbursts to settled living.
What do you see in the topic itself? “Emotional outbursts to settled living.” What is happening here?
What is happening here is that the mind is desiring the movement from one place to another place. From place A to place B; emotional outbursts to settled living. What is place A?
“Emotional outbursts to settled living.” There is a journey involved in the topic itself. We are moving from A to B. What is A?
AP: Disturbance; right? “Emotional outbursts”- a state of disturbance. A is where we are. B is where we want to be. You see everything about humanness is a journey. Man has been a traveler. That would be a very apt way of defining and summarizing mankind. We are travelers. In everything we do, in all our efforts, there is a sense of movement involved. We are hardly ever contended with where we are. We want to reach somewhere. We want to undertake a journey. There is some other place that we must reach.
So presently, we are saying we are disturbed, we are emotionally vulnerable. Ours is a state of emotional outbursts. And when we are there, when we experience this happening with us every day, a desire arises. The desire says, “I must be somewhere else. I do not like where I am. Where I am, that is a place of suffering. That is a place where there are these torturous emotions, all kind of complications.” Now we said that we are at place A, and place A is of emotional instability. Right? Are we together?
AP: Is that true that we all are there irrespective o our profession or age or gender or country or life situations? Is it not true that we all experience this fickleness of moods? This rise and fall in motivation. This game of attraction and repulsion. This see saw of hope and hopelessness. Do we experience this or not?
AP: Okay. Who all experience this?
Anybody here who does not go through the cycle? We all do. So we all are at which place? Name that place?
AP: We all are at A. Now being at A, do we really know B? We do not know B, right? One of the things about A is that it is a very imaginative place. When you are at A, you are so perplexed, irritated, and saddened by your current situations that you desperately want an alternative. The alternative is not there because you can be only at one place and that place is A. So you will imagine an alternative. That imagination is peace. That imagination is settlement; that imagination is stability.
“I am unstable; I would be settled.” And being unstable I could only imagine stability, I can picture stability. I do not really know stability. What do I take stability as? I take stability as the opposite of instability. Are we together?
AP: So we are at A and except for A, we do not know anything. But we do not like A. So what do we imagine? We imagine the opposite of A. And we say that the opposite of A will take me away from A and we do not realize that the opposite of a thing is always related to that thing. It cannot take you away from that thing for a simple reason that it is “The opposite” of that thing itself. Take that thing away, there is no opposite. Find a place to stand. Right?
So when we are at A, and the mind is tempted to undertake the journey to B, it might be trident to just hold oneself for a while and instead of saying that I want to jump to B, simply investigate A-“Where am I?” If I can know, what my current situation is, probably I will not need to imagine where I need to go next. I wouldn’t race too fast ahead of all of us. So, I will go back to what I am saying.
Whenever we are dissatisfied with our situations, don’t we quickly seek an alternative? Yes or no?
AP: Now does that not happen that our attention goes to that imagined alternative and it does not come directly to where we are. I do not like where I am sitting. Now I do not know what is this place? How did I come here? How do I regularly keep coming here? And instead of knowing all that, my disgust takes me to that place. I imagined that “that” place might be better. I start planning about flying up to there. I start planning about flying up to there, without even bothering to check whether I have the wings to fly up to there. Are you getting what I am trying to say?
“I do not like my current situation and at the same time, I do not know my current situation. But my emphasis is not on knowing. I am being driven by my dislike and being driven by my dislike, I am totally concentrated on that far away imagined spot. I say, “I do not like how I am, but after that I get my dream job, I would start liking myself and life will be beautiful.”
“I do not like how I live my life but if I earn a little more money, I’ll get a bigger flat and then life will be better. I do not like how I am living these days but after I win the next election or after I get a job or promotion, then life would be worth living. I hardly ever pause to enquire into my current situation.” And why don’t I want to look at it? The answer is simple: because I don’t like it.
Who wants to look at something he or she does not like? Do you like looking at things that make you feel nauseatic? Do you like looking at things that sink? If you dislike something, do you really want to go close to it? If you dislike somebody, do you bother to go close to him and know him? This is the first thing that happen.
Once you start disliking something or somebody or situation, you start maintain a distance. So if we do not like how we are, we start maintain a distance from ourselves and instead we start imagining a rosy future. We cut ourselves off from the present and we move into dreams of another world, a fanciful world; a world of my dreams.
Now is that something I am asserting from this podium? Or is it something that is your daily experience?
Ls: Daily experience.
AP: It is a daily experience, right? So I am not sitting here drilling out fairy tales. What I am talking about is…our life. Whose life? Our common shared life. Not this speaker’s personal prejudices. I am not coming to you with some kind of a personal ideology. What I am saying is not my view-point. I am just exposing you to us what our life is like; our life. Because in these matters, we all live shared live. When we say “emotional outbursts,” we do not mean “emotional outbursts,” only of Amit there or Raghav there or Priya there or the Speaker here. We mean “emotional outbursts” that we all know; the man of mankind that experiences all these things
Now it’s much more important to examine where we are. Now where are we? Let’s see! As we know ourselves, we are the mind, we are the body. If somebody asks you who you are? You will either talk about your body or you will talk about your thoughts. Correct? So as you know ourselves, we are the mind, we are the…
AP: We are the body.
It should not take you long to comprehend that the mind is nothing but a collection of influences and experiences. Whatever you have been through, whatever has left behind its imprint upon you, stays with you as the mind. Right?
The mind is the environment that you are in.
And does that not happen? You change the environment and you find your mind changing, your mood changing. Even your thoughts change as the environment changes. Does that happen or not? So I would not be greatly mistaken that the
Mind is the company that it keeps.
Environment means company. Environment means stuffs that surround you. So this point A, where we are, and we feel dissatisfied and emotionally unstable, is the point of our company. Our mind is determined by the company we keep. Even at this moment, the person sitting next to you might have an important impact upon how clearly and how attentively you are able to listen and participate. Your company is so extremely important. And what is it that we are surrounded with? You look at your company. If you say that you are emotionally vulnerable, what is the quality of people around you? Are they emotionally stable or vulnerable?
If we are emotionally vulnerable, we come across another surprising fact that the people around us too are emotionally vulnerable. Now is it farfetched to draw a connection? I am asking you don’t you see a direct relation here? Surrounded by people who themselves are agitated and off centre, how will you remain peaceful? And the irony of the situation is that the more peace-less you are, the more is your tendency to surround yourself with peace-less people. The more disturbed you are, the more will be your tendency to surround yourself with disturbed people.
Disturbance attracts more of disturbance. And you see what kind of negative, downwards spiral it is? You are already agitated, and you pick up your phone and whom do you call? A person who is just as agitated just as you are and hence win your agitation reaches him. He reacts with more agitation of his own and brings down you along with himself.
Do we have people in our life who can calm us down? If that be so, it is a matter of grace. But usually, it is not so because people in our lives are our own choice. And if the one who is making the choice is a disturbed fellow, then that disturbance will reflect in all his choices. Is that not so?
AP: If you are someone who cannot choose wisely, then whatever you have chosen for yourself, will be a representation of lack of wisdom. Be it a shirt, be it a pizza, be it a friend, be it a profession or life partner. If you cannot choose wisely, then you can’t even choose a sandal wisely. You wouldn’t even know which particular TV programme to watch or which website to visit?
So that is the fact of point A, when it comes to the mind. We say we are mind-body beings. And we are looking at the mind and we are finding that we have enveloped ourselves with people, with situations that are just as off centre as we are; that are just as loose and anchor-less as we are. And hence we mutually contribute to each other’s downfall.
Look at anything that constitutes your environment. Not only people ,the place where you lived, the TV programmes that you watch, the shops that you visit, the places of tourism that you go to. Is the choice coming from stability or is the choice coming from disturbance?
AP: the expectation is of peace. You expect “peace” when you go there. But if you are expecting peace-please look at it-is it not so that you are peace-less? If one is peaceful, would he go to a place, be it a shopping mall or a hill station to get peace? If the expectation is of peace, if peace is the target, then surely the starting point, the centre, the current situation is of lack of peace. That is the fact of the mind.
Then there is the fact of the body. We are examining how we are and why it is so that we have to talk about emotional instability? The fact of the body is that our bodies keep contributing to all the vibrations that the mind is riddled with. You wake up in the morning and there is always something amidst with the body. It could be the solder or the liver. It could be an ankle or a kidney. It could be the eye or the thigh. But the body is always adding to the irritation. We hardly have fit bodies.
It would come as a little bit of a surprise to many of us that in a so-called spiritual discussion that we are talking of a fitness of a body but it is extremely important. All spirituality is about real life and in real life we very well know the role that our bodies play.
Our bodies are not such that they will keep us peaceful, settled, allright, relaxed. Our bodies contribute to our disturbance. And if they do not initiate that disturbance, they at least amplify that disturbance. If you have a knee that is aching, then with every step that you take, there is something inside you that complaint against life. Have you experienced that? Even one finger that has an ache or a sprain is enough to raise thoughts in the mind. The mind might be otherwise settled and thoughtless. But one small finger to send it racing.
So we said that is the situation. We talked about the body and the mind. And then we talked about the mind. We talked about our environment. We said that the mind is the climate in which it lives. From situation, we come to the reaction. Here am I, in this situation, what is my reaction to this situation? I am in this situation, surrounded by a particular world of my choice, living in this world with this body that I am carrying. How am I now reacting to this situation?
The reaction is of attraction and fear. If there are people around you and situations around you and bodies around you that keep telling you that there is something to be avoided; that the world is a hostile place, then continuously you want to change something. To move to some other place, you want to seek security. You say right now as I am, some great harm can befall me. So I better escape to a safer place. And do you see how fear and hope are connected?
The more afraid you are, the more is your tendency to hope for another place or another time.
Do you see how fear and attraction are connected?
The more dissatisfied you are with how you are, the more attracted you are to something else, to some other place.
Are we together on this? Do you experience this? When you are all right with things, do you still feel like changing them? What do you feel like changing? You feel like changing stuff that disappoints you; you feel like changing stuff that troubles you. And given the situation of our mind and body, there is enough in our life that keeps troubling us. So our reaction is, “Go to that alternative world. Plan for that, prepare for that.”
In fact, a lot of our education is just preparation for that dream world. And why talk of education alone? Our entire lives are us just an attempt to reach that other place. We talked so much about that other place; that other place occupies so much of our mental space. But we hardly ever bother to enquire that why at all do we want to reach there? And if we could enquire into that, if we could be a little more bold, a little more fearless, and just look into the prevailing situations of our life, then probably there wouldn’t be such an overpowering need to travel up to there. Are you getting it?
Please see that we are still not coming to solutions. We are just diagnosing. We just want to know what the situation is like. The emphasis is on the situation, not the solution. I really believe that all of us sitting here, whether senior or junior, male or female, Indian or French are all capable enough to just know the solutions of their personal interpretations on their own. Hence I do really don’t hold the authority to offer a solution.
You will find the solution shining in front of your eyes. The solution will be inescapable. You will know the solution on your own. My job is to reveal the situation. After that, it’s totally upon you. And after that, is hardly anything left to be done and decided. Once you have fully well-known where you are, once A is understood, B becomes irrelevant.
So those of you who are hungry for quick solutions might be feeling a little restless by now. They would be saying
‘Sir, you are talking of disturbance. But you are contributing to my disturbance.’
‘I came to your session to get some quick pills. But you not giving them and that is making me restless.’
If you are indeed getting restless, kindly bear that restlessness because I am going to give you more of it.
Now there is the situation, there is the reaction and then there is the naming. How do I name my situation? I start calling myself a victim. The naming is that ‘I am a victim. Something wrong has happened with me.’ Victimization is something that the mind is so fond of. I have been undone by my circumstances.
There is nobody here, not only here, in the entire world; not only in the entire world, there is nobody who was ever born and there is nobody who would ever be born who somewhere does not think of himself or herself as a victim. We say we could haveshone brilliantly like a diamond. It’s just that there was nobody available to polish us. Or is you want to go a step ahead. We say, “Oh! We are in fact polished diamonds. But there was nobody available to value us.”
“You know what! I am a lair, a cheat, an angry man, a violent man. But all of that is because of the people who made me so.”
“You know what! I am fond of misinterpretations. I do not like the Truth. I am an escapist. I do not have the courage to look at life in the face. But all of that is because of the circumstances in which I was born and brought up.”
“You know what! These marks on my mark sheet just do not represent my reality. It’s just that the transformer got blown up on the eve of the examination. I could not prepare. Or the examiner or the evaluator got bonkers. You ask me to evaluate him. He has given me a second division. I fail him out rightly.”
“Victimization”- I am a victim. Please see that this is not a story.
This is what is really happens within us. This is what is happening probably right now, as we sit here because the mind machine is an incessant, untiring worker. It does not halt at any point. It keeps on doing these things. Having named its situation as that of a situation of a victim, the mind reacts. And what is the reaction of the mind? The reaction of the mind is suppression.
“Well, you know! All this is boiling up within me. But I cannot express it because the world is a bad place.” You remember we said that the mind is the company that it keeps. And a company that the mind keeps has taught the mind that the mind is living in an antagonistic environment.
“So I better suppress all that which I feel about the world. If I bare myself out, I will be harmed.”
We do not let ourselves be exposed, be real, be naked, even in front of our most intimate relations. It was probably understandable had we said that we do not reveal our core to a stranger or to a neighbour. But you know, the tragedy of living is that we do not reveal ourselves even to our parents, to our closest friends, to our spouse, to our teachers. Whosoever we swear is close to us in life, we suppress our emotions as they arise. We keep them bottled and the pressure keeps building up.
The pressure keeps building up because the factors, up the stream are always at work. Up the stream, the glacier keeps melting and the flow keeps coming, increasing. Down the stream, you dam the flow. You do not allow it to proceed because if you allow it to proceed, you are afraid that there will be repercussion; the world is a bad place. “If I tell people that I am hurt because they would laugh at me. So I cannot let my emotions be expressed.”
Somebody comes and says, “What a fine morning it is!”And how do I reciprocate? I say, “Yes! Of course. It is a fine morning.” The fact is you are feeling disgusted this morning. But it is a shame to honestly say so. Is it not? We laugh, we feel the obligation to laugh even when we are internally sobbing. It is almost a crime in a developed world to reveal that you are indeed in pain. You must always keep carrying a smiling face because if you are not carrying a smiling face, then it is exposed that what is the society set out to do- and that is give happiness to mankind-has not materialize.
The whole purpose of maintaining an over arching social structure, of markets determined by the society, of this whole civilization, is that man will be at peace. And if man truthfully starts stating that I am not at peace, then this whole structure will come crumbling down. So we all feel the need, or the obligation, or the pressure to not to expose our hurt, our trauma. We keep saying that, “Oh! Things are all right.” We keep saying that. Not only do we confess it to not to others, we don’t even have the courage to confess it to ourselves. We stand in front of the mirror and we pretend as if everything is all right.
Now, obviously when you keep suppressing things for long, for long, the result will be obviously be an explosion. Even the strongest container can withstand pressure only till a limited point. Even the largest of dams, can contain the flow of the river, only till a certain time. And after that, there would be a deluge, a bursts, an explosion. And when that happens, we are taken by surprise. We say, “Why did this happen? How come a civilized man like me, a sober man like me, a gentle person like me explode like that?” How many of you us have seen that?
People who otherwise seen so calm and composed; have you seen them exploding and crumbling for no reason. Have you seen them?
AP: The explosion is the fact. The calmness was a veneer, a facade, a mask. The explosion only tells that the calmness was actually never there. There was only a pretention of calmness. There are so many who keep pretending to have a calm face and they are respected; they are valued because of this. And then there are those who keep letting off the steam. They are held as moody and whimsical. If they are angry, they will say they are angry. If they feel attracted, they will go and hug. They do not hold themselves or restrain themselves. And our training is such that such people do not get a place that is equivalent to the place given to the so-called “composed ones.”
Emotional outbursts do not just happen in a vacuum. There is an entire process behind them. We talked of these six steps of that process. We said-the mind, we said the body, we said fear and attraction, we said the naming as victimization and then we talked of suppression. At any of these steps, the process can be stopped. But if you let the process continue, the result will be that explosion.
There are so many court cases in which the accused says,
“I do not even know how I pulled the trigger.”
“You see! I am a civilized man. I have never even abused anybody. I do not know in that fit I could kill someone.”
He could probably kill only because he was over-civilized. He could only kill probably because nobody ever saw him angry. When nobody ever sees you angry, then that anger will manifest itself in the ugliest of ways. Does it not happen with you? Are you often not surprised by your own sudden reactions and mood swings?
This is where we stand. We always want to treat the symptoms. We want to treat the moment. When there is an emotional outbursts, whether of helplessness or of anger, we say there is something wrong that happened today.
“You know what! Tonight at 10pm, I just broke down. Tonight at 10pm, I broke down. I was in tears. I was simply inconsolable.”
What do we think? The quick conclusion that we draw is that there is something wrong that happened at 10pm in the night. I want to request to you; It’s not about that even at 10pm in the night. Behind that event is a whole lifestyle. Behind that event, is the total process of living? But because we do not see the subtle, we only see the gross, we do not capture the events when they are really happening; we capture only the loud consequences.
My request to you is do not wait for the explosion. And if and when the explosion happens, kindly do not try to treat the explosion. Go a little deeper. We all are strong and intelligent. Display a little more courage. Go into the facts of your living. And there you will find all the reason why one is overly emotional. Why there is so much of neurosis? And why there is so much of instability? You will find all the reasons there in your moment to moment living; in your daily choices. In some sense, the brand of soap that you purchase, how emotionally and otherwise stable you are.
So do not think that anything is life is unrelated to the other things. Life is a total web in which everything is connected to everything else. Every single choice that you make is descriptive of how you are living and where you are headed to.
There are 5 people in front of you and you are attracted to one. That attraction is not a coincidence. It tells so much about your mind. That attraction can give you the highest freedom but that attraction could also mean the gravest danger. Please be attentive. Please be a little more available to what is happening. Do not let the flow overpower you because it is not the flow of Truth or the flow of your nature. It is the flow of environment. It is the flow of conditioning. Do not let it dominate you. Are we together or have I lost most of you?
AP: At least some of us are together.
Do you still want a solution? Do you want me to speak on settled living? I don’t have anything to say on that?
L: Is it not self sufficient?
AP: Of what?
L: The expression is self sufficient but we supress it.
AP: Yes! Of course.
You must go into why it happens because everything in existence naturally expresses itself. Manifestation is inherent in existence. The flower is never shy of opening up. Its aroma does not plan or decide before spreading. The bird does not bother before singing. The cloud does not dliberate before floating. But man thinks ten times before doing or saying anything. That alone is suppression. There is no fluidity, no spontaneity to our lives. And we need to deliberate so hard and plan so hard only because we are so afraid and only because there is so little love.
You are writing a message to somebody, a letter to somebody. You are not confident that there is enough in the relationship to have that fellow quickly, thoughtlessly understand what you are communicating. So you are bothered. You refer the dictionary, you consult a thesaurus, you want to put in just the right words and at some point you end up deleting that can be contentious.
L: Is it not the outcome of having so much knowledge?
AP: Yes! Of course. Well said.
But see, as we are, knowledge is unavoidable. So if I say “well said” and if the ancient scriptures say “Gyanam bandhanam” (Knowledge is bondage) that does not mean that man is in a situation to have no knowledge. Knowledge will be there. The problem not really is the abundance of knowledge. The problem is the misplaced value we give to knowledge. We try to apply knowledge even in matters where knowledge is not applicable. We try to use the mind even in matters where mind should not be used. There is so little of the heart in our lives. The heart knows no knowledge. The mind knows only knowledge.
Where there is knowledge, only there can you have calculations and conclusions. Where there is knowledge-less action, there is only “Action”. No planning for the action. There, there is only realization; no conclusion. And that is why there is so little of insight in our life. You look at the education that our students are getting. We train them to have ideas, but there is very little concern about how we are losing insight. Now ideas always arise from the mind and ideas always have a past.
Insight is something totally different. Ideas will always incorporate an element of fear. Insight is creative and bold. Insight does not bother about what will happen as a result of the insight. Insight just comes. Now! Here it is; fresh, new, careless; Ah! Care-free rather.
Have knowledge. I am speaking in a place where knowledge is being generated and dispensed. I dare not say that knowledge is worthless. Knowledge surely has its value. But do not love on the basis of knowledge. Do not live on the basis of knowledge.
L: Sir, abundance of knowledge gives both the aspects; negative and positive…
AP: Negative and positive are both knowledge. And hence are worthless as knowledge. Would you talk of negative and positive had you not been dominated by knowledge? Don’t you see that the words negative and positive themselves are given to you by knowledge? So how can you use the product of knowledge to evaluate knowledge?
L: This negative knowledge is very much required in some things like difference, technology, science, mathematics, all the apprehensions can be made.
AP: Please understand that there is nothing called negative knowledge and positive knowledge. Knowledge is just knowledge.
When you are not centred within yourself, then you do not really know what to do with knowledge. Knowledge by itself is inert. It has no label. It is you who are either centred or astray. Do not blame it on knowledge. You know! If you are blaming it on someone else or something else, then you are referring to which step of the process? Victimization. You see how?
“It’s not me. It’s the knowledge that is negative.”
AP: Knowledge is never negative; neither it is positive.
L: But the aspects may be.
AP: Of what?
AP: Knowledge has no aspects. The mind has aspects.
You have the atom. You have the atom and you can split it and can generate great energy. Now is the energy negative or positive?
AP: Who uses it?
AP: You use it. So this negative and positive is not applicable to knowledge. It is applicable to the user of the knowledge. You can use the same energy to illuminate a city. Nuclear power can give you so much energy. You can use it to run hospitals. Or you can use the energy given by nuclear power to flatten a city, cause immense devastation. Now is nuclear power negative or is nuclear power positive? It’s a mind of man. And man must learn to look inwardly, at himself. And if he doesn’t do that, then it is just victimization; that age-old story.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: How to deal with emotional outbursts?
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