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Alchemy of Emotions

By Roya Monajem, Tehran


Years of clinical experience and studies led me to see and realize that there is a way that we can “vaccinate’ ourselves against diseases. A healthy diet (1), enough rest, sleep and recreation (2), some kind of physical activity (3) and finally adoption of a dynamic solution-finding-attitude towards life problems (4) are the four basic needs for this purpose. The first three are so obvious that there is little need to pause on them. But what can be the ingredients of the fourth basic need, i.e. a solution-finding attitude to life problems?


From one perspective, life is THE problem. Life is the problem because we do not truly know what it is. For a materialist who takes the tangible world of our senses as the only reality it is the time-span between birth and death without any pre or post life. For the religious man –depending on the religion – it has other meanings as well. Some call it a school, others call it a play. Some believe it is all Maya and some say it is “the factory of pain and suffering” and in fact no matter how we define or see life, pain and suffering are its major ingredients for us all regardless of our gender, race, nationality, social class and... We can not ‘delete’ pain and suffering - which are both the cause and effect of our problems - from life. The only thing we can ‘do’ is to try not to add to it. In fact this attempt to avoid adding to our pains and suffering is what I mean by adopting a solution-finding-attitude to life-problems. According to a Persian proverb we can make a mountain out of straw and vice versa -meaning we can face a seemingly impassable mountain, but as though it is just a heap of straw, find a way to surpass it. Or according to Marx the answer to a question comes before the birth of the question. In other words, answer manifests itself prior to the birth of question.


From this we can deduce that for any pain and suffering that life brings, the capacity to deal with it is already there. For any problem that occurs, the solution is already there. We just need to search for it.


For most of us who earn “our daily bread,” the major source of our pains and suffering lies in our relationships. Each one of us lives in three worlds, the world of our personal relationships, the world of our work-related relationships and our inner world or the world of relationship with ourselves. It is not hard to see that the quality of the first two depends on the quality of the third one. The more we are at ease with ourselves, the more we feel ‘at home’ with ourselves, the more we feel safe and secure in ourselves, the more energy we have accessible to search for solutions when we are faced with problems in the other two worlds. How can we reach such an inner state of ease?


In order to find an answer to this question, it is necessary to see what makes us uneasy with ourselves. A simple look at any uneasy state shows that such states always arise as the result of negative emotions and vice versa, i.e. negative emotions can take hold of us when we are not at ease with ourselves, and if this vicious circle continues for long, it naturally becomes a suitable bed for development of diseases (dis-easyness).


Now let us look at what is said above from another perspective. Suppose a problem occurs in our relationships with others. Suppose we feel betrayed – no matter how, whether by our religion, ideology, spouse, lover, friend, employer, parents or children. This ‘incidence’ or ‘accident’ immediately can produce a negative state in us. We feel angry, hurt, sad, revengeful, and when such states continues for a long time-span, we actually become anger, resentment, depression and in one word uneasy. As soon as we become uneasy, we start losing energy and when we start losing energy, it becomes increasingly more difficult to be stimulated to search for a solution for the problem, the pain of betrayal.


There are two ways to stop our negative emotions. One is to control and suppress them which in the long run as shown above will lead to development of some form of disease and the second solution is not to identify ourselves with such states. This is where the alchemy of emotions comes and this is how it can take place.


As soon as we find ourselves in a negative state, the first thing to do is in fact its ‘identification’ – meaning to investigate its nature. In order to know something or identify it, we should take a distance from it. And if we are to know something about ourselves or identify our emotional state at each moment, we should detach ourselves from that state. In other words, we should non-identify.


Who feels betrayed?

And the Court begins the session.

The guilty should stand up and introduce herself-himself.

My name is betrayal. Like any other thing that has a name – and thus identified, I am a composition, a combination of multiple ingredients. In other words, I have my own atoms and molecules which include, rage, revengefulness, depression, self-pity, despair.

The anger and rage comes because ‘I’ think I was not appreciated, disliked and abandoned.

The revengefulness comes because ‘I’ think I have lost in this game.

The depression comes because ‘I’ logically deduce: Therefore, I am a looser.

So comes the turn of self-pity and despair.


You think you were not appreciated and thus felt disliked and abandoned. Ah poor little girl or boy! Don’t you want to realize that you have grown up? Don’t you want to grow up?

You have been betrayed? What does it matter? It is already past. Leave behind this past and move ahead.


It is easy to say such things, but hard to do. The grip of this negative emotion called anger or worse rage makes one to feel oneself as though caught in a real flood. Have you ever watched a flood and imagined yourself what if you were in it? Being brought up by a river flowing from Alborz heights separating the rest of PersiaIran from the Caspian Sea, several times I had to witness such floods. It is absolutely fearful. Like other times when faced with a fearful situation, the only other emotion that can appear beside fear is the feeling of helplessness. In fact the gracious redemptive feeling of helplessness! Followed by calming feeling of surrender which brings about relaxation of body-mind- psyche!


Next time you feel this rage, bang against a pillow while savoring its taste which automatically brings about a feeling of helplessness – at least for enough time to give this abandoned fearful ‘little’ girl or boy to realize that she/ he is a grown up now!


But then another voice of that emotional composition called ‘betrayal’ most probably starts singing her/his song! The song is the song of a pathetic self-pitying loser, a ‘poor me,’ a ‘living martyr’ whom nobody appreciates and understands!


Ah my little poor young dreamer who thinks if two people speak the same language, they should necessarily understand each other! How can for example, a materialist understand a spiritualist or a republican understand a democrat, even when they speak the same language? In one word, how can two people of different gender, type, background understand each other? The only thing that can happen with us is misunderstanding, is it not so? This does not mean that understanding is therefore ‘impossible.’ No, it is possible, but only between two people who share and follow the same principles in life. Two Buddhists of the same sect and in fact two members of any one sect, particularly if of the same gender, can increasingly reach fuller understanding of each other, if they are true practitioner of their principles. Another major factor that can bring about understanding is to put oneself in the position of the other person. When in the shoes of our ‘betrayer, ‘ and looking at life with his/her eyes, then depending on how much we ‘know’ and ‘understand’ that person – which is a reflection of how much we know and understand ourselves – we may reach many revelations about the situation.


In this reflection we just see another ‘helpless will-less creature’ who is singing his/her own song of a pathetic poor me and a living martyr whose sight can only arouse sympathy and thus understanding in us. It is here that we can see in the game of this life and its accompanying pain and suffering, we are all ‘losers,’ we are all ‘victims.’  Isn’t it indeed a great revelation when we realize that this awesome game called life has no winner, unless we manage to separate ourselves from it altogether?


It is like remembering that our real betrayal lies in the fact that like other beings of our universe we have had no choice, no word, no role in our existence, and therefore we are all equally ignorant, helpless, pathetic creatures with only this amount of ‘will’ to ‘wish’ to let go of at least our personal pain and sufferings by remembering where our real betrayal lies for example. This remembrance throws us into the loving arms of fatality, thus surrender and the resulting relaxation, “at easiness,” “at-home-ness.” Now the poor little girl/boy who had felt disliked and abandoned would naturally feel “at home,” in the loving arms of her/his own ‘grown up’ and thus feels safe and secure. And the little poor young dreamer learns that understanding is a kind of mean between one’s knowledge and state of being and thus needs the hard work of working on both. And the ‘poor-me-grown-up’ realizes that it is one’s state of being that attracts life situations, so the more we allow ourselves to stay in the grip of negative emotions, the longer we are going to stay uneasy which will definitely have no other fruit other than development of some kind of diseases. The longer such negative state continues the graver would be the disease.


Gurdjieff says: It is not sex or power that is destroying the world, but negative emotions. And our Persian (Iranian) Zoroastrian ancestors left us the mantra: “Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.” And it is interesting that thought – the finest and most hidden of them - comes first. Perhaps to remind us that no change is possible without a change in our mental attitude or adoption a dynamic solution-finding attitude to life-problems!


... Payvand News - 8/7/06 ... --

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