Contemplations from the 20th lesson on the Shiva sutras.

The Sage is supremely free and unswayed by feelings.

As we gather, yet again, around the open hearth of Shiva’s scintillating sapience to warm our souls and to cleanse our minds, the question once more arises; what does The Gurave, Teacher of Truth, wish us to learn from this short, sweet, golden thread of wisdom?

Shiva’s coaxings are clear, be a Sage, an accomplished being, a Siddha. But he issues the caveat that to do this, we must learn in some way not to be swayed so heavily by passing feelings. Somehow we need to become a Feeler of Feelings, with space between the one who experiences the feelings (The Self), and the transient, energetic phenomena (The Feelings) as they pass through the mind/body complex. This template for Self-Mastery is not dissimilar to last week’s (SUTRA 18: NARTAKA ATMA) but here we’re changing the disidentification of Dancer with Dance, into the dissociation of Feeler with Feelings. Shiva’s keen to point out that this is not supposed to be an avoidance or suppression strategy, rather it is designed as a means to insert some much needed space and perspective between The Authentic Self (the ground of all experience) and the vast array of disparate, ephemeral elements of experience…namely feelings or emotional sensations in this case.

This space creation is essential, says Shiva, if we are to become less easily influenced by the fluctuation of feelings, and thus established, liberated, unshakeable Sages. Shiva invites us to sample the difference in flavour and intensity of a feeling or emotion when we’re fully, unconsciously identified and swept away with it, from how that same sensation is affected by a conscious depersonalisation and a dispassionate step back from it…the creation of a little space.

 He’s saying we should understand and practise this skill, honing it for our own edification. We should experiment with how creating this conscious buffer zone helps to keep us from being blown off course or dragged asunder by the inevitable and unpredictable maelstrom of feelings, whenever they intensify in response to the vicissitudes of Life.

So this capacity for being steady and open in the midst of these strong feelings means we can allow them just to be there in spite of their great force. Little by little this allowing of their movement within engenders a maturation of the nervous system, an upgrade of one’s sensory apparatus you might say. In turn then, as we become more willing and able to feel, without flinching, these feelings in all their visceral glory, we finally learn to relinquish the ‘Fear of Feeling’ which is the keystone of all apprehension and dread. Now instead of shivering in a cramped, squalid vessel, moored in some dreary little port, we set sail on a bright, bold Clipper onto Life’s high seas where anything is possible and where there exist no limits.

So we let the feelings in (not burying or dodging them) and we consciously digest them, absorbing their energetic nutrients and spitting out the pith. We ingest, digest then evacuate by dropping the feeling and moving on to the next thing just like last week’s Dancer or a Yogi in asana; we take what we need, we grow stronger then we let go. Simple says Nataraja, wearing his trademark playful grin beneath lively, glistening eyes.

The Sage is supremely free and unswayed by feelings.

IF? Says Lord Shiva….  
(A great influence on Rudyard Kipling as well, by the way?  ;-)

If you’re still inside while feelings rage around you,
If you can tolerate the zing and zap of fears,
If you can sit unmoved as other’s smites astound you,
If you can be the Island in a sea of tears,

If you can rise up strong from feeding on emotions,
If you’re steady as excitement squeezes tight,
If you can stay afloat in feeling’s choppy oceans,
If you can soothe your naked heart in darkest night…

Then yours is the Universe and everything that’s in it,

And –which is more- You’ll be a Sage my Son.

~ by Elliot Donnelly.


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