April 22, 2023 - Feelings

I was having a discussion with a friend when she said, “You give your feelings too much importance. What if it doesn’t matter that much how we feel? If we don’t pay so much attention to them they’ll let go of us.” The context was afflictive emotions, painful feelings that compel me to act out addictions and cycles of behavior I want to let go of.

This caught me by surprise, like a tiny pebble dropped into still water somehow creating a tidal wave. I’m finding it liberating. I seem to have taken it as a given to be lead around by my feelings, pulled around by my nose, I hadn’t really questioned it or realized I didn’t have to. What happens to a feeling if you just let it be exactly what it is with nothing added or subtracted?

But some feelings are really useful information, or even act as a guiding light. Tom Brown Jr. talks about feelings as a way to hear Inner Vision. In the same conversation I reflected on a sutra I was reading that I love which inspires feelings of deep devotion and connection in me. Those feelings are compelling me to let go and live differently. It also sometimes seems like to let go of an afflictive feeling it needs to be fully embodied first.

I’m sort of confused about which feelings to let go of, and which feelings to harvest for fuel, which are useful and which aren’t. Are feelings important or aren’t they? It sounds like negotiating the inner garden, what to nourish and what to turn away from and maybe let die. What’s your perspective, how do feelings fit into the inner garden, and how do you all navigate this contradiction?