Emotion Vs. Intellect in Personal Transformation

Peaceful

If Knowing is Acting, how do we go beyond the intellect in order to really feel, understand, and truly know what the sages know so we can act accordingly?

If you ask the “how” or the process, I won’t be able to tell you in a precise way.

The process is different for everybody.

What I can only say is based on my version of the story which, naturally, is based on personal experience.

The “how” of every transformation necessarily involves the emotions.

Emotion is more powerful than the intellect. Emotions move the body, whereas the intellect may or may not. Intense emotions penetrate every fiber, every cell of our being, causing the transformation of these very cells; the transformation of our physical as well as energetic bodies.

How potent emotion really is?

How do you think people like Hitler are able to influence, as if in a spell, large numbers of people including undoubtedly highly intelligent ones? People whose I.Q. are even much higher than Hitler himself? He appealed to these people’s emotions.

How do you think political organizations and governments, religious institutions, capitalist companies and the media, stir and play with people’s emotions to advance their interests? By evoking fears, insecurities and even sympathy.

How do you think highly intelligent and technologically advanced aliens, such as the Greys, look up to us, very much desirous of that one thing that we have – our ability to feel? You would think that these advanced beings, on their way to greater evolutionary heights, fully equipped with high intelligence and technological prowess, would not be bothered to take an interest on little dramatic earthlings like us. But they do because of what we have which they had long killed within themselves in their unbalanced quest for technological advancement.

We can learn from their experience as they learn from us.

If emotions can be used in very destructive ways, it can also be used in very positive and transformative ways.

Deaths, separations and breakups profoundly affect us that their effect on us are almost always life-changing. Emotion is so powerful that people in love go crazy and it changes their body chemistry.

Emotion is a very effective tool for personal transformation which may eventually lead to that which we seek – enlightenment.

To use emotion for personal transformation, it is crucial that one is able to feel deeply and intensely. And you feel deeply when you fully engage with the world. You interact with other people who serve to trigger within you deep and intense emotional reactions that almost always lead to changes in your life.

In spirituality, this technique or process seems to be the opposite of the other path which involves withdrawing from the world. That path of withdrawing from the world, a path which many in the past have taken, may actually be a longer path.

It was after seeing the truth, after he was enlightened, that the Buddha aptly advised his followers to take the Middle Path.

In my personal process, I am both a recluse and a “party girl”. I immerse myself fully into the world and then extricate myself to contemplate on my experiences and extract the insights I got from them. I follow my passions and whatever it is that is summoning me. This oftentimes requires boldness and vulnerability as I can get hurt and wounded in the process. But each time I come out of an emotionally charged experience, I gain more invincibility and a new level of illumination.

So feel deeply. Live passionately in the world. Play hard. Taste fully the flavors the world has to offer. Seek balance between the two extreme paths. You do not have to deny yourself one thing in order to get another thing.

Finally, do not wait until you “know” what the sages know before acting on their deep realizations and teachings. Because deep inside you, something already knows what the wise ones know.

 

Vegetarianism – A Path to World Peace?

Kat contemplating world peace (arguably)

Kat contemplating world peace

A while back, I blogged about vegetarianism and meat-eating which was a part of an interesting exchange I had with a certain spiritual teacher who is a staunch advocate for a vegetarian lifestyle.

Said spiritual teacher believes that vegetarianism is the answer to world peace. I understand that his premise comes from the belief that vegetarians are more peaceful, compassionate, non-violent people because of their diet and non-involvement in violence (the killing of animals for food).

Personally, I agree that vegetarianism can significantly contribute to world peace. However, it is not always the case that vegetarians are more peaceful and less inner-conflicted than meat-eaters.

I gave him two first-hand examples.

I have vegetarian friends who belong to a certain religious persuasion, and there was this incident I heard from some of them:

A group of them entered a restaurant and instructed the food servers that they do not want meat, oil from meat, and MSG in their food. The cook, in his total ignorance and lack of exposure about vegetarian people, put a little MSG on the vegetables as he worried that plain veggies would not satisfy the palate of the diners. Upon discovering that there is MSG in their food, the group of vegetarians stormed out of the restaurant, cursing the cook and the rest of the crew, upsetting other diners.

Where is the peace and the love, brothers?

Another story is the story of my friend who had been a vegetarian for more than a decade. For more than ten years, he did not join his family for meals. If it has meat in it, he refused to eat what his mother lovingly cooked as he was resolute about his vegetarian beliefs. And then, one day, he joined a volunteer group to do some projects in a very remote province. He observed that the indigenous people who welcomed them to their villages made all efforts to make them comfortable, despite that these people lived very simply and that they do not actually have much to offer in terms of tangible things. My friend observed that the little they have, they gave it all. If they have hunted meat, they served it to the guests first, and only after the guests have eaten their fill, the host family ate if there were leftovers. If there is no other ‘presentable’ food available, they catch their chicken (which they would not normally eat by themselves on ordinary days) to have something especial to feed the guests. They sacrifice their chicken so they can serve the best food they know of.

And the best food they know of happens to be meat!

Why is that?

For two reasons:

First, within the indigenous contextual framework, the meat of animals, specifically, wild animals, contain a special life-giving force. And the animal that allowed itself to be hunted down means it was willing to impart this life-giving force to its other relations – the human kind. Within the same contextual framework, the hunters reciprocate through the rituals and offerings they do before the hunt, and in the thanksgiving celebrations they perform after hunts and harvests.

Second, it has to be taken into account the fact that these remote villagers are mostly farmers, hunters and manual workers who work hard with the land and with raw nature. Hence, the best viand they know of is meat, for the reason that they feel it gives them more strength and energy which they specially require for their hard labor.

In addition, compared to people in towns and cities where commercial meat (with much less life-giving force) is readily available, these indigenous people do not have the luxury to eat meat any time they want. This adds to the special value they put on meat. This is also one reason why it is an absolute ‘paniyu’ (taboo) for them to waste animal meat.

Naturally, in a cultural context where hospitality means everything, people feel obliged to give their guests what they themselves consider is the best. And it so happens that for some, the best food to be offered to guests is animal meat.

With that peculiar experience and exposure, my vegetarian friend started eating meat again. He said he was deeply touched by the unsophisticated villagers’ nurturing quality, their authenticity and deep hospitality which he realized are values more important than rigidly adhering to a particular doctrine.

He learned that in a world of rich diversity, there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only what is appropriate at every given moment.

Is vegetarianism the key to world peace?

No, not entirely.

The first step to world peace is inner peace. And a crucial step to inner peace is to be at peace with the external things you cannot change. Again, this does not mean that you are condoning the wrong that you see in society. But maintaining a strong aura of peace is more influential and more transformative than any change that can ever come from militant and agitative action. How do I know? I’ve been there, done that.

A solution to world peace is certainly not found in arguing as to whether vegetarianism or not, is the answer or a path to world peace as this act is obviously not any different from the never-ending ideological and religious battles raging around.

Yes, compassion is definitely the key to world peace, and compassion includes understanding, tolerance, open-mindedness, and non-judgment.

Knowing is Acting: Are We There Yet?

zenarriving

It is one thing to intellectually understand the statements: We are All One, No Separation, Life is a Dream, the World is an Illusion, It is All Vibrations, and such other descriptions presented by those who have “seen” it.

The mind can only get us so far.

If it stays at the level of the mind only, these statements would just be vague innuendos and empty words that we regurgitate without knowing what they really mean.

And it would show if we don’t really know what they mean. It shows in our actions because our actions reflect our understanding of the things we claim to know.

Knowing is indeed Acting.

Are we there yet?

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How Do We Know If Someone Is Enlightened?

sit in med

It’s really none of our business to gossip whether someone is enlightened or not. But for the sake of asking a question and then answering it, here are some thoughts:

The best and surest way to know whether a certain person is enlightened or not, is to become enlightened yourself. For how would you know if someone is enlightened if you do not know what enlightenment is all about?

A spiritual guru may be viewed as enlightened by thousands and even millions of followers, and this is why they follow him in the first place. The followers believe, or they have faith, that he is an enlightened being, and thus he has the power to help bring about their own enlightenment or salvation.

Either that they believe they have something to get from following a guru (or a certain religion), or they just follow the crowd for the sake of being seen as religious or spiritual. 

It can also be the case that a spiritual guru has so much charisma and radiance by virtue of being enlightened indeed, and these qualities alone are enough to attract followers who are drawn to the guru’s magnetism.

Being a spiritual guru, complete with followers does not, of course, attest to a person’s enlightened status. An enlightened person may be somewhere in the wilderness or desert with no followers or students, but have only the plants, the animals, the night sky, to keep him good company.

The End Of Spiritual Seeking

no end

I think it was King Solomon in the Bible who said that there is no end to the writing of books.

It is true.

There is no end to seeking too.

No end to desiring and wanting.

If we no longer desire and want, then there is no reason for us to go on living.

But there may be an end to spiritual seeking.

This is when a pivotal shift in consciousness occurs.

When you no longer see duality.

Many have said it:

“We are All One”

“No separation”

“The world is an illusion”

“Life is only a dream”

etc.

But would we really believe or understand these statements if we cannot see it, touch it, feel it, taste it?

For many of us, these could just be riddles that we either don’t buy into, or we see them as obscure holy statements which we tend to blindly follow and regurgitate just because we heard it from a popular and respected spiritual leader – who may, or may have not experienced it himself / herself.

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