Thinking About Feelings

April 22nd, 2010

“Freedom in Buddhism is not freedom from emotions;
it is freedom from complicating them.”

I’m in my last week of this 10-week course on Buddhist dharma that I’ve been taking, and of course—in my patented late bloomer fashion—just starting to feel all the ponderous questions bubble to the surface.

This week we are focusing on Mindfulness of the Mind, one of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the one that, curiously, pertains to emotion.

As a six on the enneagram, the link between my feelings and my thoughts about my feelings is a tenuous albeit practiced one. Sixes often believe that they are emotional types (and I’m not gonna lie; I’ve been called moody), but guess what? They’re not. They’re mental. And I mean that in all the very best senses of the word.

We might seem emotional, but the truth is, we’re not all that in touch with our feelings. As a six, I can assure you that the moment I start to actually have a feeling, I immediately dissect, categorize and ascertain the purpose of that feeling in order to fit it into my own personal dewey decimal system of meaningfulness, thereby robbing the feeling of any authenticity it may once have had.

Getting back to the Buddha… he said (and I paraphrase quite loosely) the first dart we suffer is our own feelings, and those are unavoidable. The second dart we suffer is the layer of judgment we add to our feelings. Those are our own fault, and are the real cause of suffering.

For instance, today I experienced a strong bout of anger at someone who was unfathomably obnoxious to me for no real reason. The anger I could handle, as it was utterly transient. The the real suffering came from the guilt and shame I felt about feeling angry. Cuz, it’s hard to sit with your own anger when you’re supposed to be learning to be a Buddhist. The guilt, it did linger.

Don’t worry; this course has another two legs. I’m in it for the long haul.


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