Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ask Parvati 28: Enlightenment and Emotions - Part 4: Body, Mind, Emotion and Compassion


(Continued from What Is The Mind?)

“When the self-created wall of the ego is lifted, you will realize that the dualistic nature of the world is only an external appearance, and that, in essence, everything is a whole, a single unity.” - Amma

When we “want”, we are directed by the energies of our mind and ego. When we are directed by our ego, we inevitably suffer. We can hurt ourselves and we can even hurt others. Our mind does not liberate us. Identifying with our mind restricts us and causes us pain.

Eckhart Tolle’s statement is succinct and clear: “Pain is inevitable as long as you are identified with your mind.” In our process of enlightenment, we learn to slowly dissolve the grip of our mind so that we may return to the field of pure consciousness and become enlightened.

As we dissolve the grip of the mind and of our ego, we face our emotional landscape. Our emotions exist as a bridge between our body and our mind. They are a way our mind expresses itself through our body. As we allow for more space in our mind, our emotions come more to the surface of our field of awareness. So too does the electrical information of all that is around us, including the emotions others may feel.

Emotions move through our body as a means for us to understand more viscerally our mental reactions to thoughts. When we feel afraid, our heart races. When we feel angry, our temperature rises. We feel in response to our thoughts. But our thoughts are not always pure and clear. In fact, our mind tends to only be a collection of expectations and memories. So our emotions tend to be based on the past and the future.

Emotional maturity is essential along the path to enlightenment. We are sentient beings. We feel. It is part of our nature. Just as with thoughts, there is nothing wrong or bad with emotions. There are painful ones and more pleasant ones. But they too, just like thoughts, are temporal. They are not eternal. They come and go. So just as with thoughts, we learn to find the space between emotions.

When the mind is clear, wisdom may effortlessly arise. Similarly, when our emotions are quiet, we may experience the well of compassion. Compassion is not an emotion, but a state of being. Unlike emotions, it is eternal. It is vast and unbound, unaffected by the temporal. It is a state that arises through the release of our identification with our emotions. Amma says:

"Compassion does not see the faults of others. It does not see the weaknesses of people. It makes no distinction between good and bad people. Compassion cannot draw a line between two countries, two faiths or two religions. Compassion has no ego; thus there is no fear, lust or passion. Compassion simply forgives and forgets. Compassion is like a passage. Everything passes through it. Nothing can stay there. Compassion is love expressed in all its fullness."

As we evolve, we learn to move beyond the chatter of emotional reactions and allow the room for compassion to arise. But first, we must learn to witness the ebb and flow of what is, the tides of emotions that move through us, that move through others, with balance, presence and space.

(Continued tomorrow with The Rise And Fall Of Emotions)


REMINDER: Don’t forget that tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day for submissions for this week’s Ask Parvati blog. Send your questions to




  1. When I was in grade school, years before anyone had heard of Asperger's, the only diagnosis the so-called mental health professionals could come up with was "emotionally disturbed". I hope they don't still stick kids with that stupid now-discredited label.

  2. I think it could be said of all of us who are not enlightened that we go through at least some periods of emotional disturbance - that our emotions themselves are not calm, and that they disturb us from our calm. Is that not pretty much exactly what Parvati's writing about?

    I remember one time when Amma gave a talk and the swami translated it, at one point Amma rolled her eyes and twirled a finger by her head in the signal for "He's crazy". The swami said, "Yes. I am crazy. Everyone is crazy but Amma."

  3. This is such an important passage for me: Emotions move through our body as a means for us to understand more viscerally our mental reactions to thoughts. When we feel afraid, our heart races. When we feel angry, our temperature rises. We feel in response to our thoughts.

    The body is such a gift, isn't it? If we are in denial of what we are feeling emotionally, the body shows us the way, if we are willing to listen.

  4. Beautiful blog, Parvati. It is exactly what I needed to read today as I was struggling with emotions I didn't quite understand. Compassion starts with oneself. Thank you for your continuing wisdom shared in these blogs.