Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwing Out The Emotional Barometer

36"x36"  Mixed media " Across The See"
It's always interesting to me what comes up on my radar for examination.  Last week after a couple of social interactions I became aware of the subtle (or not so subtle) measuring that was going on inside me.  What was this strange barometer thing constantly scanning the internal air pressure?  This interaction left me feeling good, that one made me feel slightly unsettled. And then I could see how these feelings lingered and flavoured the the day.  At the end of the week I could see how truly unpleasant all this unconscious measuring really was, how the sheer movement of the scales made me feel a bit internally seasick.

Rather than just being with whatever was I was using my experience in the world to determine something, using my emotional life as some sort of guiding compass. This underground current that I suspect stirs in all of us wants to weigh and measure and tot up a score.  How am I doing?  We may only notice the measuring by the feeling it leaves.  It goes on at Olympic speed, mostly under the radar.
24"x24" mixed media "Travel Plans"
If I don't notice the process, then I use the feelings generated to navigate my world by.  Hmmm, seems a pretty shaky basis to steer the old ship by.  At a deeper level if I want to simplify it, I want life to make me feel good.  I believe somehow that my internal state is determined by the outer world  and what goes on there. I keep track of how that's all going with my barometer.  Sheesh, I'm tired just thinking about the craziness of my internal life! But weighing and measuring tools in the slippery hands of the ego are never a good thing.  Given the Western mind's relationship with itself and the nature of scales I am never going to come out pounds ahead.  And to digress, is this crazy world a good place to get our sanity from?

 In his book "The Tibetan Yogas of Dream And Sleep" Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche tells us that these emotional reactions I'm thinking about arise from "karmic traces". He says, "All moods, thoughts, emotions, mental images, perceptions, instinctive reactions are governed by the workings of karma" (karma simply meaning for every action there is a reaction).  Act with anger once, the seeds of karma for future anger are sown.  And ditto for everything else.

His explanation offers me information on where these "emotional" responses of mine come from, feelings that feel so puzzling sometimes. Their arising is based in past action and contains no conscious intention for how I might want to live my current or future life.  In a way, if I don't consider this I am held hostage by my past (both from this life and past ones, if you care to see it that way).

So as the week wound down I realized that it was unlikely that I could cart this barometer off to a thrift store and get rid of it.  But what I could do was see it for what it was, a very unreliable measuring tool that I could simply see and choose not to use as a barometer. Maybe it's more like a laugh meter or an alarm button or a kitchen timer reminding me to wake up?  How about you?  What's in your internal measuring chest?