TREATISE ON ZANDTAO
Emotions are very tricky. It is perfectly natural to have emotions, maybe if you are completely isolated from all human contact you can be free of emotions. But I suspect not, when I have been alone walking the emotions I feel in nature are wonderful. Possibly if I were alone in nature indefinitely I would also feel negative emotions such as anger and fear so being alone does not free us. We have emotions as human beings, the problem is how we deal with them.
When we describe someone as emotional, in general we are not really describing someone who has emotions, but someone who displays those emotions. In that display what usually is happening? The person has an emotion and then holds onto it until that state of emotion becomes more heightened, needing to be displayed. Hysterical and other words can describe that state. Once a person has reached a state of hysteria, they have then lost control. And that is the issue with the emotions, we lose control.
Anger was my baggage. I grew up in an angry household, and as an adult I became what was fashionable, an angry young man. It was expected that our assessment of the state of society made us angry - in some ways a legitimate reaction. If you look at the world and see the way corporate execs manipulates society for their own benefits, causing hurt and damage to so many people, then it is natural for human beings to have an angry emotion. As corporation strategies always do this, does that mean we have to be in a permanent state of anger? Is that common sense? Of course not, that is clinging to the anger.
In my adult life over the last 30+ years, within the corporate paradigm western life has become more state-controlled. Natural human liberties have been eroded by government statute and practice, and quite naturally one can become angry at these repeated infringements. To what end? Individually, can we do anything? If so, do it, but in general we cannot fight their bureaucracy. If we are perpetually trying to fight, we become angry. Government has then taken our happiness as well, we are not using good sense if we let that happen. We are controlling our anger.
But that control is far easier said than done. As a teacher every day I was confronted by the injustice within teaching caused by the careerists and profiteers, each day a new situation arose from these people preventing me from teaching the students properly. As discussed by me as Matriellez, this situation was intended by the corporate paradigm - they do not wish all students to be educated. This was a daily situation in which I cared about the students I worked with, and some injustice would arise. From an early age I let these injustices anger me, and throughout my teaching life I was always trying to deal with this anger. Unfortunately I dealt with it badly. Rather than letting it pass me by, I internalised the anger eventually leading to the health problem I referred to earlier, GERD. As I grew older, these anger-causing situations had less of an obvious impact, but in general that meant that I had internalised the anger. In my last job, a job that had many such problems, I couldn't meditate, there was only one solution to being permanently anger and that was to leave the job but for a number of reasons I had decided to stay out the contract. This uneasy balance was not eased by meditation surprisingly, probably because my decision to stay was wrong. More likely my meditation was not good enough at the time. Either way I had permanent anger caused by the administration assuaged only by the enjoyment I had working with the students. This was still not a healthy way of dealing with the emotions.
I have every sympathy with working people who cannot deal with their emotions, I never did. Right livelihood is very difficult in this day and age. The global impact of inhumane corporate practices means that most livelihoods are compromised, and those compromises induce righteous anger. At the same time corporate practices within the working environment try to instil fear so the two most powerful emotions become associated with work. And people need to work to look after their families. At the same time we have anger at the injustices caused by our governments, as well as the fear they create through their focus on security. And this security is needed because the governments are supporting inhumane corporate practices. We all have to live with anger and fear. And that anger and fear interacts with our family life. The level of anger, frustration and fear created within our society, combined with the emotional environment that is home life - the need for love and caring - produces many tensions (then emotions) that damage the home.
But describing the motional landscape is not enough. Sure it helps to understand, and that understanding lessens the impact of the emotions, but there needs to be more. And that more sounds simple, but is very hard. When the emotion arises we need to stand back and watch it arise, see it and then gently let it go. We don't need the emotion, it just happens. Let it happen, become angry at the situation, watch the anger arise and simply let it go. Try not to let it come back, something I failed to do when I was working. Let it arise and then fall away. It sounds simple, it is not. But that's all there is. Watch it arise and then fall away, arise an fall away.
Even in meditation such emotions are difficult. If something has made us angry during the day, it can often return in meditation, either in the evening or in the morning. It causes the mind to spin, to run around chasing the emotion. Sometimes during meditation this would lead to me finding a solution to the situation, but more often than not the solution was beyond my control, and I therefore needed to let go of the emotion. Trying to focus on peace or calm using the goodness meditation I described here helped with this. But not always, I was left with a need for emotional healing once I stopped work.
Once I retired and the emotions were not being daily internalised I began a healing process. Not only was this healing occurring through food, but I began healing myself by releasing the emotions internally. This started for me in Africa in my 40s. In my 30s love had taken me into a disastrous relationship, and when I finally emerged I was emotionally drained. After a few years I decided to teach abroad finding myself in Botswana. This was a wonderfully-freeing decision, and during my 6 years there I spent one holiday in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I stayed in a small room at a campsite, and made a decision to go in deep looking for emotion. That was a wonderfully exhilarating emotional release, perhaps the most uplifting of my life - it was emotionally very powerful. I decided to look inside for any emotional blocks. I had often felt pangs at the pit of my stomach - I mentioned the internalising, so I began by moving my attention down the body centre line to the stomach area. I cannot remember the exact details but I moved my attention around the area (although I cannot remember from that time I suspect it was the liver as I have often released anger from the liver since). Moving my conscious attention around I would meet a block, and investigating this block I found that it was emotion stored from the relationship - I released it. I would do this again finding different blocks and releasing them. After a while I found this process released tears, and in the early hours of the morning I was sobbing in the middle of Nyanga as I released all the hurt the relationship had given me. I felt so light, and I proceeded further and found a release concerning my parents. I slept little but woke refreshed as I had released such a huge emotional burden.
This was a powerful experience and I feel so glad I did it - then and any time I have done it since, but for some people this might be too powerful. If you have doubts about this seek the help of a therapist or counsellor or at least a person you can trust. You have to know yourself in this, I know of people who when I tell them to do this are too frightened. Their fear has got a grip of them, and they need to release that fear, if they cannot do it alone ask for help.
Now if I find myself getting irritated - the washing is tangled, electronic wires getting tangled up - I know there is anger to be released. I get myself calm - often lying on my bed, and move my attention inside usually to the liver but anywhere in the lower half of my body below the rib cage. I know I have released because I can feel the emotion, and then it disappears. This process of unblocking emotion has helped me on many occasions.