« Tuesday November 9, 2004: Fluidity of Reality | Main | Saturday November 6, 2004: V.G.'s Yoga Retreat »

Sunday November 7, 2004: The World Beyond Emotions 

Being on a spiritual path can sometimes bring its own obstacles to the quest of being authentic. I've watched many people repress or deny negative feelings in an attempt to focus on only positive (i.e., spiritual) emotions.  If your spiritual path focuses on divine reality being more real than the physical world and your immortal life as being more important than the temporal life, then those nasty human emotions obviously become something one must rise above. How many times have I heard people talk about getting past human nature to discover their real essence?

            It bothers me because I think emotions get a bum rap. We can throw out too much in an attempt to build a spiritual life.  I'm not convinced God created us human just so we would someday get past being human and discover our true essence.  What if the human system was initially created perfect, with everything it needed to fulfill its highest purpose, and we've just never figured out how to use it properly? Emotions may be there for more than just Darwinian survival.

       It's not just religion that gives emotions a bum rap. Philosophy likes to focus on rational thought as the only means to raise human potential (my dear, you must ignore those nasty emotions as tainted, the very source of brutish behavior). Rationality is not the best that humanity can attain.  Have there not been individuals convinced they were using detached, rational thought when deciding a course of action, only to find the end result had become cruel and inhumane?  Nor has rational thought ever explained altruistic or heroic behavior. We forget that the best of humanity has not just overcome negative emotions and instinctual drives through reasoning, but has re-entered the emotional world to reach toward the betterment of humanity.

           We put tremendous effort into developing intellectually, into making sure each individual can join society knowing basic reasoning skills.  As a society, we encourage individuals to reach for new understandings and explore the heights of human intellectual potential, believing this carries civilization forward.  Where has it gotten us? After all these thousands of years, has humanity advanced? The battles, the betrayals, and the back-stabbing have not changed since the days of Homer; history simply finds new ways of repeating itself.  

           It occurred to me in one of my cynical moods that society can be content with emotional development even if it goes no further than the potty-training level. How you privately release your internal toxins, how you deal or fail to deal with built-up pressures, can all be overlooked as long as you carry out your role in society and monitor your actions in public. Repress the socially unacceptable behavior and most people will accept you as a sane and functioning adult.

           It's hard to watch the nightly news without wondering if society should not put more effort into the emotional development of its citizens. Obviously, not every parent helps their child develop healthy emotional responses. Should it fall on society to develop more emotionally mature adults?  If we have spent countless generations exploring physical strength and mental ingenuity and our world is still a battleground, would it not make sense to rear future generations with a better sense of emotional stability?  We could call it the four R's: reading, writing, 'rithmatic, and the reality of becoming fully human.      

Posted on Sunday, November 7, 2004 at 08:00AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.