“Many suppose that the path to enlightenment and self-mastery involves, if not denying, at least “transcending our negative” emotions. Shouldn’t we rise above our baser instincts and ascend to the tranquil joy and compassion for after all, that is our nature, right?
I’m convinced that such transcending is simply a path to illusive equanimity that will be blown apart as soon as any real life challenges arise. If you think you can transcend fear, anger and sadness, try riding the A train from the top of Manhattan to the depths of Brooklyn at midnight and see how you do. Or go through the holocaust museum in Jerusalem or spend a night on the streets of Calcutta.
“Feelings are real. They are not ideas that can be turned off. They are not abstractions. They are physical manifestations of energy, uniting body and mind and bringing them to the moment. Unexpressed, repressed, or supressed, this energy becomes toxic. Without release it surfaces in lumps, clots, tumors, spasms, migraine headaches and other symptoms of physical distress.” ~Gabrielle Roth
Ah, I’m still so deep in Gabrielle Roth’s book Maps to Ecstasy . This teaching is such a reoccurring contemplation in my life. Am I really supposed to transcend my emotions of anger and fear? Are they somehow “negative” or “lesser” aspects of who I am? Whenever I encounter someone who simply refuses to raise their voice, who never addresses their anger (i.e. passive aggressive) or who ceaselessly avoids all confrontation I feel my stomach turn in knots. There is just something completely inauthentic about that energy and these quotes just helped me put my finger on what is it — denial. It’s straight up denial. Anger, frustration, sadness and fear are parts of the human experience and if we avoid them they do not go away. Denial is not transcendence. It takes much more courage, grace and power to face the difficult energies then to ignore them. So thank you for telling it to me straight, thank you for losing your temper, thank you for raising your voice, for cursing, for crying and for putting it all out there. Thank you for being f**in’ REAL — you are a courageous and spiritual being. You are doing the work.