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Transforming Emotional Energy for
AYP Plus Additions:
340.1 - Appreciation and Bhakti (Audio)
Frustrated with Perceived Lack of Progress
How to Handle a Plateau in Perceived Spiritual Progress
June 19, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Once we have gotten a handle on our ishta, our chosen ideal, even just a
glimmer of it, we will find ourselves in a position to bring the vast cosmic
forces into alignment for manifesting that. If this seems like an
exaggeration, it isn't.
The power of emotion is the power of the cosmos. Why? Because
emotion is the power of love,
that which seeks to bind together all that exists. On this material plane,
emotion may seem to be going in both directions drawing us together in
union, and pulling us apart in fear. But both of these are expressions of
the same divine energy seeking fulfillment. It is only a misperception that
repels us in fear, derision and the many other negatives that we see
manifesting in the world. Emotion is always in search of love, either here
or somewhere else if need be.
But we can transform the dynamic of emotion in the field of opposites to a
much more productive purpose, and that is what our ishta gives us the
ability to do. The power of the cosmos is brought into greatly increased
resonance by devotion to our chosen ideal.
Much the way a martial artist can use the energy of his opponent to bring
about the desired result, so too can emotional energy of all kinds (positive
and negative) be redirected to a higher purpose with the aid of our chosen
ideal. Similarly, the many situations and relationships we encounter in our
daily life can be used to transform our energies to a higher purpose, the
purpose of our chosen ideal.
As we advance in our ability and habit to transform our emotions, great and
small, to fulfill our chosen ideal, then we will find our devotion rising to
a level of constant pouring. This pouring evolves over time to become
automatic in all aspects of our life, with the end result being the constant
outpouring of divine love.
This is what bhakti is, the constant pouring of desire toward our chosen
ideal, which is ever-expanding the inner and outer dimensions of us. This is
achieved by learning to transform all of our emotional energy for that. It
does not mean ignoring our family and career. It means incorporating them,
and everything in our life, into the process of transformation. In this way,
our current activities and relationships rise to the level of divine
interaction, and our devotion will soar with the consolidation of all
emotional energy becoming divine desire.
As our ishta evolves, it will come to include our loved ones, which is very
easy and natural because we are inclined this way with family and friends
already. From there, our love will expand naturally to include others we
encounter in our place of work, our community and the whole world.
The greater our devotion to others, the greater will the flow of divine
energy through us become, further illuminating us and everyone around us.
Divine energy will be drawn to us no matter where we are. We will become a
magnet to anyone who can aid in our inner flow, and they will be a magnet to
us. By our own intention and acceptance, divine energy will flow. This is
where the statement "Your faith has made you whole" comes from. It is the
receiver of divine energy who determines the flow, not the source. Divine
energy is everywhere, and can be easily found by one who is effectively
transforming their emotional energy into pure bhakti. All the universe runs
to support such a one.
Transforming Positive Emotional Energy
We all have positive emotional experiences occurring in our life. We have
our loved ones, our friends, and the feelings gained from success we find in
our endeavors in the world. All of these are opportunities for expanding our
bhakti. Even the small feeling we gain from a tiny accomplishment (like
emptying the trash) can be used to further our bhakti.
Before, we may have felt that feelings of love or accomplishment were a
fulfillment in themselves, and we surely have sought to have more of them in
our life. So we seek betterment in our relationships and in our work, so we
can feel better more of the time. But there is a hidden layer in all this,
where there is much larger energy, a much larger fulfillment.
For example, consider the love of a child. To hold a small child, to have
that feeling of nurturing and caring is beyond description for most of us.
It is divine by definition. Yet, it can be taken even deeper than that with
the use of our chosen ideal. If we do that, the child becomes an expression
of our ishta and our holding of the child becomes divine worship. It may
well have been anyway, for this is the nature of parenthood. It is natural
for the parent-child relationship to be divine.
But will it seem so divine when the child becomes a "terrible two-year old,"
pulling the knick-knacks off the shelves and refusing to cooperate with the
parents requests? Or how about a full-blown adolescent in rebellion? Well,
never mind the divine coddling then. But the love will not fade, even when
it is expressing with firmness.
If we are on the path and have been cultivating our spiritual desire, our
relationship will continue to be divine, expressing as needed through all
the ups and downs of life, rooted in inner silence cultivated in daily deep
meditation. This will have a profound effect on our own development, as well
as on our children, who will instinctively know that something is operating
beyond the diversions of the moment. Something positive, something that will
outlast every mishap that may be encountered in life. It is a knowing that
our children will carry with them all through life. Divine love is very
practical in this way. Once it has touched us, it will never leave us.
While we can take every positive emotion and elevate it to divine status by
incorporating it into our chosen ideal, so too can we do the same with
emotions associated with the so-called negative experiences we encounter in
life. The truth is, there is no such thing as a negative experience. It is
only by our coloring of perceptions that positive and negative exist. It is
we who identify what is positive and negative. We always have a choice. As
we advance on the path of bhakti and with the powerful spiritual practices
it will inspire, we will know that there is a reality beyond all the
positives and negatives of life. It is a reality of abiding inner silence,
ecstatic bliss, and outpouring divine love.
Both positive and negative emotions can be taken to the extreme in terms of
bhakti, to the point of emotional frenzy, and beyond. This is a
characteristic which has been documented in the lives of the saints and
sages. The great ones have used both positive and negative emotions, every
feeling they had, applied to the divine quest. Is such emotional desperation
necessary to travel the path to enlightenment? It depends on the person.
Famous sages like Rumi, Ramakrishna, Buddha and Jesus had this in common.
The more inspired and/or desperate they became, the more they expressed the
divine within them. At times they may have been regarded to be mad for God
or Truth. If we are to be mad for something let it be for that. Divine
experience is a mixture of ecstatic joy, fear and tears, all for the
singular unswerving purpose of fulfilling our chosen ideal.
Transforming Negative Emotional Energy
It may not always be obvious that we have a choice in how our emotions are
directed and focused. So often we are caught up in the events of the moment
and our emotional energy becomes focused in nonproductive ways due to
knee-jerk reactions. But these can be changed through the methods of bhakti.
For example, let's suppose we are stuck in a traffic jam, and are late for
an appointment. The longer we are stuck, the more our emotions may tend to
rise about our increasing lateness. The knee-jerk reaction in this case may
be to lean on the horn and curse out the window at someone who has cut us
off to gain a car-length or two in the huge mass of traffic creeping along
the highway slower than a walk. On the other hand, if we have a chosen ideal
for our spiritual evolution that is becoming strong in us, we will be able
to take the emotional energy rising in us due to the traffic and lateness
and transform it to cry for our spiritual evolution. Instead of honking and
yelling at the driver who has cut us off, we complain to the divine about
our slow progress toward enlightenment.
"Oh Lord, my journey to realization of Thee is going so slowly!"
Yes, complaining with heart-felt emotion to God (however we may conceive
Him/Her/It) can be very productive, as long as we are willing to act to
resolve what it is we are complaining about. Our frustration about being
stuck and late in traffic can be easily redirected to be frustration for
being stuck and late on our spiritual path. What is the benefit in this?
While honking our horn and yelling out the car window will do little to
speed up the traffic jam, expressing intense emotion toward our chosen
spiritual ideal can have a dramatic effect on our spiritual progress. The
effects can be both tangible and intangible, as long as we are open to what
may come. Bhakti is not about unloading our perceived troubles. It is about
opening the divine doorway within us.
In the tangible sense, as we are lamenting our lateness in the traffic jam,
that is, our spiritual lateness, the redirected emotional energy may go
toward us resolving to put in extra effort to seek knowledge of spiritual
practices that we may have been putting off for some time. Or to become more
regular in our daily meditation and other sitting practices and not miss
them as often as we did before.
In the intangible sense, we may have a revelation of new spiritual knowledge
right then and there in the traffic jam. It may express itself as surrender
and an opening to inner peace and love flowing from within. It can happen in
the most adverse circumstances. It can happen because of adverse
circumstances as we redirect our emotions toward our chosen ideal. In such
times we may encounter the knowledge we need to take the next
steps on our path in a mysterious way maybe we pull off the crowded highway
in frustration, go into a cafe, and meet someone who provides exactly what we
need to take the next step on our path. It happens often to people who are
steadily building devotion in relation to their chosen ideal. More bhakti
brings many small miracles into our life and some big ones too.
This is not to promote a superstitious approach to spiritual development. It
is not to encourage the seeking of "signs" in everything that happens in our
life. We don't have to be trying to "read the tea leaves" to find our
salvation. If we attend to the necessary causes, the effects will be there.
If we are favoring the redirection of our emotional energy and the
transformation of our everyday desires toward our chosen ideal, then what we
need for our spiritual fulfillment will find us in one way or another. If we
take care of devotion and are willing to act when the appropriate
opportunities present themselves, then the knowledge and tools we need will
Much of what we have been saying before now may seem to assume that everyone
will be enthusiastic about their spiritual prospects, have a clear chosen
ideal and be moving along in converting all their emotional energy at a good
pace. Of course this is not going to be the case for everyone all the time.
But we know that everyone has an emotional life, even if that is being
expressed as an inclination to not be enthusiastic or excited about
anything. Those who are conspicuously disinterested or running away from
life will have their emotional energy invested in that disinterest and
running away, and that energy can be transformed to serve an ideal, whatever
that ideal may be. The ideal does not have to be flashy, or even obvious. It
may be as modest as making the time to meditate twice daily, which is not a
small thing at all. It surely will lead to openings, and the bhakti will
expand along with it. The main thing is to understand that every feeling we
have can be applied in a direction that we choose. The energy we may be
expending to run away in fear or guilt is of equal value in bhakti as the
energy we may be expending for seeking the divine. Whether our negative or
positive emotions are invisible or very intense and expressed outwardly, we
can use them all for a chosen higher purpose our enlightenment.
Consider the possibility of your infinite nature, and embrace it with
feeling. You will not regret it.
The guru is in you.
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Note: For detailed
instructions on transforming positive and negative emotions, see the
Bhakti and Karma Yoga book,
and AYP Plus.