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Monday, December 07, 2009

The Direction of Causation

It's funny when you really think about it. We go through our lives thinking this event or that thought is causing us to feel a certain way, when in fact every emotional experience is coursing through us in every moment. A certain feeling emerges from the pack to dominate our awareness, and our ingenious ego mind instantly finds a justification for that feeling within our present experience or most recent thought. Then we think the event or thought actually caused the feeling, when it simply is not so.

If you sit in meditation enough to settle into the depths of what is present within you, if you can keenly watch the many layers of your present experience and witness the endless shifting of random emotions, all while you just sit there, thinking about nothing except "what am I feeling right now?" -- if you can do this, you will see that it is as I describe. First comes the feeling. Then comes the justification for the feeling, unless you are sufficiently aware to see that there is no justification for the feeling. It is just the way you feel. And then this is. And then this. No reason.

It is a common statement of psychotherapy that no one can make you feel anything. They act, you have thoughts about their action, and then you react emotionally to those thoughts. But I would go further to specify that it isn't even just about other people's actions. Even your thoughts have very little to do with causing your emotions. You may habitually associate certain thoughts with certain emotions, but that is a matter of correlation, not causation. You feel every way within an endless ocean of wavering emotions. And the only meaning any of it has is the meaning you decide to give to it.

My take on this is, if I'm going to feel all the joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, and amusement without regard to what I am thinking, doing or experiencing, what the heck. Why not just enjoy the show and stop caring so much what's on the screen? Whatever it is, it will assuredly change in another moment. Fundamentally, it is all just the play of consciousness. And what is true and unchanging, that is so beneath this shifting emotional experience. So I sit and watch with amused curiosity, and occasionally catch a glimpse of that beloved, glowing eternity beneath it all.

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