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Emotions Are Not Healed Unless the Thoughts Are Healed
Thomas: Ram, separateness is not just mental but also emotional. The mental aspect of pathological separateness is much easier to heal than the emotional aspect which causes us to FEEL separate. The emotional journey to wholeness (non-separateness) is very, very different from the mental journey. In my opinion, Vedanta is effective on the mental stuff but grossly inadequate on the emotional stuff… hence people like Mary continue to suffer, as do most of us, though some are better at hiding it than others.
Ram: I think this is reasonable criticism of the way Vedanta has been misunderstood by the public and many of its practitioners/followers. It is similar to the way many Christians have misunderstood Christ’s teachings. I agree that emotional healing is different. But I think you will agree that you can’t heal the emotions without healing the thoughts underlying them. If a person thinks that emotional love lasts forever as it is portrayed in literature, for example, it will be impossible for them to heal emotionally until they see the truth, because they will keep chasing a love that decays all the while believing it should last. If I’m always angry because I think that I’m getting the short end of the existential stick, no amount of feeling my feelings will calm me down. If I realize, however, that I have everything I need, that I’m fine as I am, I’m going to be a happy camper emotionally. In the last analysis, however, Vedanta is not about fixing the ego’s problems. It is actually for people who are already integrated and successful in life, those with healthy egos. When you come to the point that you know for sure that you are okay and you’re neither intimidated or fascinated by life, you want to know the answer to certain very subtle questions about yourself.
Vedanta resolves these questions by showing you that you’re not exclusively a differentiated individualized ego. It shows you that you enjoy an unlimited identity. This experience and the knowledge that arises out of it eventually rights the ego’s emotional problems. It’s not therapy at all. Many people who are attracted to Vedanta’s lofty and subtle concepts are not ready to realize them. They need to do the emotional work that you’re touting first. Often they become disillusioned because Vedanta has not solved their problems. But it was never designed to do that. Therapies like Yoga and following dharma are the vehicles for cleaning up the personality.
Unresolved Hurtful Feelings
Thomas: I say “woman” because I have a profound affinity and feel deeply allied with the Divine Feminine. I know you don’t like the words “profound and deep(ly)” – probably because they lead to “feelings” that get us off the surface of life and into the actual pain…
Ram: No, that isn’t it. You might as well pack it in on trying to convince me that I’m out of touch with my feelings. I understand that this is your issue at this stage and I wish you well with it, but I’ve done all the emotional healing I need to do in this life. If you keep it up I’ll ignore it.
Thomas: …and no amount of mental work will relieve a hurtful feeling… only feeling feelings (aka emotional healing work) can do that, in my opinion.
Ram: Okay. How does feeling feelings relieve hurtful feelings in the long run? I’m not arguing with you, because the word “relieve” is accurate. Relief is not healing. Feeling them may make them go away for the time being, but why do they keep coming back? I think one has to understand why they are there in the first place. And feeling them, valuable as it is, does not necessarily bring understanding. If you can feel and think at the same time, then there is probably hope. But just turning off your intellect so you can supposedly feel them isn’t enough, in my opinion.
Thomas: It is impossible that you do not have unresolved hurtful feelings.
Ram: I don’t have unresolved hurtful feelings. I am a successful person who thoroughly enjoys his life. I have no subjective problems. And if I did, I wouldn’t work at getting in touch with them. I’d deal with them when they came up and not make an issue of them.
Thomas: So we disagree again: fear and love are not opposites for me… far from it… I think they work in tandem as complements, inseparable complements.
Ram: Okay. If what you mean is that you find both fear and love in the human mind, I’d agree, but I can’t see how they complement each other. You can’t hold the fear and the love thought at the same time, because they have opposite natures. Love is the recognition of identity with someone or something. Fear is the experience of otherness. If you see the personality as a flow of hidden tendencies coming into manifestation, then it is possible, once love and its non-dual vision has played out and returned to unconsciousness, that the fear tendency can rise to the surface and supplant the feeling of oneness with the feeling of separateness. It may be that they seem to complement each other from the outside, from a purely intellectual point of view. But experientially you never think fear is wonderful because it complements love. Nor do you appreciate fear when you’re in a love state. In fact when you’re fearful, you always try to rid yourself of it because it is not natural. And when you are in a love state you cling to it tooth and nail because it is natural.
Thomas: You say “…accepting, not fighting, the shadow.” I say “accepting and dealing with the shadow as really real, then coaxing it to stop sabotaging and destroying me and start helping me transform with its powerful energy.”
Ram: Fine, but not fighting it is the best way to deal with it, I believe. I say accept and not fight it so it doesn’t sap energy. I say sublimate its energy into positive things.