Behind the Locked Door

Here is a passage from my book The Translucent Revolution.

Iago thrives on emotional chaos. We are afraid of our strong emotions, and often regret words and actions prompted by them. Then we suffer, not necessarily from the feelings themselves, but from our resistance and the shame associated with them. Caught in Iago’s trance state, we feel limited, separate, and afraid. Like Stuart Little in New York City, we sense that everything else is bigger than us, that everything is potentially threatening. Not only do we feel small and powerless relative to external things, but our inner life feels overwhelming too. Hence almost everyone is terrified to feel without restraint. Feelings seem like tidal waves, and we are a tiny boat. Any feeling released from its stranglehold of control has the potential to shipwreck us. We may then believe that the spiritual solution lies in overcoming feelings or in making them go away.

We constantly resist not only our grief, but also our wild passion and sexuality, our anger, even our exuberance and joy, repressing their free expression. Big feelings overwhelm us. They can easily upset the fragile equilibrium of our lives. We keep a lid on ourselves, till we periodically explode. We don’t realize that any deep feeling, pleasurable or painful, can be a wave we surf home into ourselves, into love.

The habit of repression is so deeply ingrained that what we think of as a feeling is most often the conflict between an original feeling and our resistance to it, the result of which is tension. In our Iago-saturated culture, only small children play and laugh with abandon, scream with frustration, cry fully and deeply, and then play again. The rest of us associate anger with a tight jaw, and excitement with a flutter in the chest. Even our laughter is often accompanied by restraint, if not embarrassment. Isaac Shapiro explains: “Memories get touched, and in an instant the whole defense system kicks in. Then you’ve not only got the pain, but you’ve got the movement away from it, the defense, which hurts more than the actual pain. Then it gets projected onto the present moment. We try to solve it now; we resist what seems to be happening in this moment, even though it is really secondary.”

Repressed feelings usually lead to a well-adjusted mask, but with a distorted face behind it. When we resist our anger we become superficially sweet but passively aggressive. When we shut down our grief, we shut down all of life, becoming gray and stooped. We cease to look people in the eye. When we repress sexuality, we change a healthy means of sharing love and translucence in the body into a dark and secret perversion. Here we are not expounding the benefits of irresponsible free expression and venting, but the restoration of our capacity to feel in a way that returns us deeply to ourselves, with an open heart and nothing to hide.

Let me clarify what I mean when I say “feelings.” The words feeling and emotion are often considered synonymous, to be used interchangeably. But they have quite different roots. Feeling comes from the Old English word fellen, the physical capacity to experience something as it is. Feeling is one of the five senses, along with sight, hearing, smell, and taste. And it is deeply associated with being present and in touch with the sensations in the body. Emotion comes from an Old French word, emouvoir, to stir up, to create agitation. Emotion, then, creates a movement within consciousness.

Feeling is passive, a capacity to experience, while emotion is mobile and leads to action and expression. Feelings happen in the present moment and are all flavors of our natural state. If we remain open in the middle of them, they can lead us home to peace, to a love that has no cause. Emotions usually become Velcroed to a story in time, and then lead us into whirlwinds of drama. By assuming that every internal flavor has an outside cause, the purity, power, and mystery of feeling are lost. They become dramatized into emotional drama: feeling acting in a soap opera. In order for our emotions to be a gift to those around us, they must be freed from the imprints of memories; they must become pure response to the now. Says Eckhart Tolle: “Emotions arise and flow into the mind structures of the conceptualized me, with its insufficiency, its not-enough story, its sense of lack, its great need to add more to me, its sense of threat and its identity threatened by other me’s. Emotion empowers the mind to conceptualize itself, and it becomes a habit, so that every feeling becomes a self-referenced emotion as me, and me, and me.”

We can be very emotional without feeling deeply at all. And we can feel things powerfully, to their very core, without becoming lost in emotion. In fact, over time translucents develop a much greater capacity to feel, and in the process become less emotionally reactive.

To read more, purchase my book The Translucent Revolution HERE.


Photo credits: Danilo Rizzuti, Clare Bloomfield, Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot

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One Response to “Behind the Locked Door”

  1. Andrew November 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm // Reply

    Ya lost me. You state that, “Iago thrives on emotional chaos…”, then sidetrack to a vague philosophical diatribe that has nothing to do with this crusty, yet delightful animated parrot from Disney’s “Aladdin”.
    C’mon! Throw me a bone, will ya?


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