Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

The Bhagavad-gita (14.22) explains that serious spiritual seekers distance themselves from their feelings by consciously choosing to observe those feelings instead of acting on them.

Sometimes our mind gets flooded by negative feelings like hatred toward someone with whom our relationship is strained or hopelessness while tackling a problem that is not going away.  When such feelings arise, most of us instinctively identify with them, get carried away and act in ways that we regret later. Or when faced with such feelings repeatedly, we resist them half-heartedly, fretting why we frequently get such feelings, why we have to fight with them so often and why we can’t win the fight once and for all. Overall, these negative feelings imprison us in an under-performing, self-pity mode of functioning.

Gita wisdom saves us from such under-performance by targeting its root: our misidentification with our feelings. This misidentification is challenged when, as the above Gita verse recommends, we take on the role of an observer of our feelings. When we observe our feelings dispassionately and intelligently, we will discover that those feelings are not expressions of our authentic values and concerns, expressions that need to be carefully addressed; rather, they are merely projections of the changing social fads and individual moods, projections that can and should be firmly neglected.

When we thus recognize that not all of our feelings are our feelings, we become free to find more productive use of our mind than to serve as dumping grounds for the world’s negativity.


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