So, the main purpose of emotions is to cause desires, and the ultimate objective of these desires is for us to return to a state of unity. The emotions themselves are caused by our separation from the Divine. But what is the mechanism by which the yearning for reunification with the Divine is built into our consciousness?
For us to gravitate towards the Divine, a guide, a beacon is embedded into our consciousness. This inner guide is our system of moral values, or, to put it simply, our ideal. What we want to be like, ideally. What kind of We (with a capital letter) we want to be.
This becomes the foundation of any development of ours. We are constantly catching up with our ideal. We develop by perfecting ourselves, by keeping our inner eye set on our ideal and getting closer to it. But when it would seem that the ideal is finally close, it would inevitably turn out that our idea of who we want to be has changed; and – voila! – the ideal looms in the distance once again.
If we (almost) caught up with our current ideal, but the ideal remained in place (did not move away), then this is evidence that there is a stagnation in development. Why should we grow, if we are already perfect? Such stagnation can occur at almost any level of personal development. Stagnation leads to self-complacency. Emotions become mild, as there is no particular need in them. Almost no desires are manifest. Subjectively, it feels almost like happiness. In fact, this is not happiness, but well-being – characterized by little stress and lots of positive (albeit shallow) emotions. Boredom, which is sometimes called an emotion, although it is rather the absence of any zesty emotions, is a typical sign of this stage of development.
The ideal is our current view of the relationship between us and the Divine. The discrepancy between the real us and the ideal us generates the whole range of emotions – from sadness to love. The main desire of any person is the desire to achieve the ideal – as that person understands it at any given moment of their life. This common desire becomes the basis for numerous smaller desires.
Thus, the ideal is the goal, and emotions are the force pushing us towards this goal. Emotions arise when our actions, words or thoughts do not coincide with our ideal.
Since we are all at different levels of development, the same actions may well for some people correspond to their ideas about themselves, and for others, contrarily, be contradictory to their ideas about themselves. There is no single yardstick for all people. The difference for the psyche and consciousness in the case of committing such “bad” (from the point of view of the ideal of a particular person) actions is enormous. For the first group, such actions are not bad at all. This is what Jesus meant when he said:
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
– New Testament, Luke 23:34
However, when we do wrong and understand that it is wrong, this immediately evokes the thought of our unworthiness, our nonconformity with the ideal. This thought causes a flurry of emotions; and the sum of these emotions and thought throws us a long way down the energy scale. Because:
Betrayal of yourself … is the highest betrayal.
– Neale Donald Walsch, “Conversations with God”
And so, the strongest desires arise from our discrepancy with the ideal. But man is a social being. And besides our internal compass – the ideal – we are strongly influenced by the opinions of others. Inside us, two ideals form. One is internal, corresponding to the level of development of our self – it is the main one. And then there is a second ideal, brought in from the outside; more accurately, from many sides. From parents. From friends. From teachers. From books that we read. From movies that we watched. From games that we played.
These days one can find a lot has been written on how to get rid of the influence of other people on our thinking and behavior. How we can free ourselves of their influence on our thoughts and emotions. But is the problem itself correctly defined? Do we always need to get rid of their influence?
The ideal of external origin affects the internal ideal. And gradually changes it. Communicating with people and reading books is one of the main ways to change the inner ideal. And cerrtainly this does as well our life experience. And change can happen both for the better and for the worse.
There is nothing wrong with, while we are performing some kind of action, thinking of, for example, what our parents, would think about it. Or our friends. Or considering what the hero of the film that we saw would think about our action. The question here is whether those whose opinions affect us are at a higher or lower level of development than we are.
It is from here that the recommendations of very different teachings stem, warning us that it is extremely important to choose our circle of communication (which is a circle of influence on our consciousness and our system of values). For example:
Group consciousness is … extremely powerful and can, if you are not careful, often overcome individual consciousness. … If you are in a group whose consciousness does not reflect your own, and you are unable at this time to effectively alter the group consciousness, it is wise to leave the group, or the group could lead you. It will go where it wants to go, regardless of where you want to go.
– Neale Donald Walsch, “Conversations with God”
For a start, it would be very beneficial for almost anybody to stop watching TV and reading the newspapers. The media in our world, unfortunately, is not at the highest level of consciousness and energy vibrations.
One day a man came to Nasreddin Hodja and said: “Can you imagine what a stupid animal the ass is? I had seen with my own eyes the wind carrying a piece of newspaper, and an ass trampled it with its hoof and started to chew”.
“Yes,” said the Hodja. “I have always believed that newspapers are only food for asses”.
The discrepancy between the two ideals in our consciousness also gives rise to emotions. We try to be good for ourselves and for others at the same time – and we suffer. The main question is whether our sufferings are in vain or not.
Being independent from external judgments is a good thing, since it does not lead to the rise of negative emotions, but, on the other hand, this can greatly slow down the development process. Independence from external judgments when these judgments come from a consciousness of a lower level is always a good thing, but the ability to discern levels of consciousness is in itself a characteristic of a sufficiently mature personality.
Yet an ideal coming from a consciousness of too high a level is more harmful to us than it is beneficial. In this case, we try to correspond to a level of consciousness that we cannot even comprehend, comprehend – above all else – energetically. The words of Christ are a good example of this: “Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you.” Or even his words about turning the other cheek when one was slapped on their right one. This is a moral benchmark for a very high level of development. Attempting to follow these instructions while we are still at a not-so-high level of development will not end well. Such actions will simply result in an absolute discrepancy with our main inner ideal, and, accordingly, in a plethora of negative emotions. And what is even more important – these negative emotions will be absolutely useless, because they will not help us to grow.
To be useful to us, the external ideal or the external system of moral values must be “half a head above” our own. No more. Otherwise, the gulf would be too large, and the external ideal simply wouldn’t be able to change the internal one – they will not have enough points of contact.
Of course, when the external ideal is higher than ours – even if only by “half a head” – such a discrepancy will cause a number of emotions to spring up that can be enough negative and painful (the degree of negativity / positivity and pain depends on the level of our personal development). But here it’s a matter of choice – after all, emotions exist in order to spur our development.
The question may arise – what about the emotions that occur in reaction to external events? For example, grief caused by the death of a loved one. Are they somehow related to the inner ideal?
Yes, they are. We do not want to die, and we do not want our loved ones to die. It can be said that immortality is an integral part of our ideal (at least for most of us). The death of a loved one is absolutely contrary to this ideal. We are not ready to accept it at heart. This is what causes us to experience grief.
So, to summarize:
- Our desires come from us striving to conform to the system of moral values which corresponds to our personal level of development;
- Emotions are the force that drives us towards our ideal;
- There are at least 2 systems of moral values within us – that of internal and that of external origin, and the externally originated system affects our internal system; a discrepancy with either of them causes emotions to arise;
- The externally originated system of moral values has a positive effect only if it is “half a head above” energetically than our own internal system;
- Independence from external judgments is not always beneficial;
- It is important to choose one’s social circle (which is one’s circle of influence).