Emotion Management

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Emotion is energy in motion. When energy attains movement and motion, it expresses itself in the form of emotion. Sri Swami Satyananda said that emotion has no colour. It is totally clear. As water has no colour, it is transparent. If the colour of the stones at the bottom of the river is green, a green colour will be seen in the water. If the colour of the pebbles and stones is red, a red colour will be seen. In a swimming pool, the colour of the tiles will be seen in the colour of the water.

Colour of connection

If a crystal stone is put on a particular colour, one will see that colour in the crystal. Similarly, emotion is just crystal clear energy, crystal clear shakti. When this shakti or energy is attached to material objects, to an experience, to a person, to desire or pleasure, then it expresses itself in that form.

Similarly, depending on the connection of the emotion, the colour and form is seen in the emotion. This emotion is of one type only, it can neither be said to be worldly nor spiritual. Is the body worldly or spiritual? The body is the body and it has its use. Emotion is emotion and it has its use.

There is no such bhavana, emotion, that is called spiritual and there is no such bhavana that is called material. It is just the association of bhavana that gives birth to an understanding and experience of the emotion. The linking of the bhavana to a sense object gives birth to feeling and emotion. Sri Swamiji said that when one sees a child, the emotion of affection is expressed automatically. It comes from the emotion which was already inside. Until one sees the child, the emotion of affection is not expressed. The moment one sees the child, emotion becomes connected with the child and the emotion of affection is expressed. If one sees a bundle of cash, the emotion of greed arises automatically. There will be no greed before one sees that bundle of cash. The moment one sees it, one will be attracted towards it. If one sees a competitor, the emotion of jealousy will be expressed, with questions such as: How did he become successful? Why am I lagging behind?

Whenever emotion comes in contact with a sensorial object, a situation or person, the emotion expresses itself in that form. When the same emotion is attached to the chosen deity, one's aradhya or ishta, then the emotion, which previously expressed itself as desire, anger, greed, infatuation and jealousy, is expressed as bhakti, surrender, love and compassion. These are unconditional expressions of the mind and the person. Emotion related to the world is conditioned and emotion related to bhakti is unconditioned. There is no expectation in bhakti, only surrender. There is no desire in bhakti, in fact, in bhakti one may also fight, neglect and argue with God.

The saint who did not want a boon

A saint performed austerities to have darshan of his Lord. Seeing his intense austerities God appeared before him. Whenever God appears his first sentence is, "Make a wish." When God appeared the saint felt disturbed and opened his eyes. God asked, "What do you want?"

The saint became angry and said, "What do you mean by 'What do you want?' I perform austerity out of devotion for you and to have your darshan. You have fulfilled this wish and now I am relaxed. If you are asking me what I need then you are not all-knowing. It means that you are a false God. So, please go away."

God felt uneasy and realized that the saint had said the right thing, and he wondered, 'What should I do now? Whenever I come down to this earth, it is to fulfil someone's selfish purpose. So I have developed a habit not to waste my time and I ask people what they want right away and I clear the matter before talking about anything else'.

God realized that he had to rectify his mental set-up, 'This saint is not asking for anything even though I am insisting. What should I do now, I am in a fix. If I do not give anything then people will say, "God does not give anything." If I give something then that would dishonour the saint for he does not want anything.'

Then God asked once again, "My son, you can think once more whether you need anything." The saint became really angry. He said, "O God, you have asked me this already two times which means that you are definitely not all-knowing. So I am leaving."

He turned and moved on. God was thinking, "This is the first person who calls me a fraud. So I need to do something. I will bless his shadow so that wherever it falls, greenery follows." The saint had no idea about this. After blessing the saint's shadow God went back to heaven. The saint kept moving and miracles followed his shadow. A tree without any life became full of green leaves and fruit, a blind man gained vision, the lame started walking and running, and the dead became alive. The saint had no idea that it was his shadow doing all the wonders in the form of God's blessings.

When you do not expect or desire anything, unknowingly you receive everything. When you have a desire then you receive only that which you have desired. When you leave everything to God, then you receive all the treasures. Therefore, you need to maintain your relationship with God, make it better and regulate your emotions.

Towards bhakti

Emotional management is the subject of bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga means this only. Emotion directed into worldly matters gives rise to distortion and disorder. When one is free from that distortion, then faith, shraddha, and the relationship with God develops; that is called bhakti.

The last stage in bhakti is jnana bhakti. The first stage of bhakti is karma kanda bhakti, rituals, which can regulate one's life and routine. In the morning, one has various tasks and chores. To regulate and discipline one's life, one should connect oneself with one's chosen deity. With even five minutes daily, karma kanda bhakti comes into play. Next comes upasana bhakti, a mental practice such as mantra japa, remembering God and one's chosen deity.

The question is how to remember. Imagine that your son goes to another city to live or to study. Can your mind be separated from your son? In some corner of your mind, the image, care and remembrance of your son always exist. When it is time to take food or to go to bed, you ask yourself whether he has taken food or not, or whether has he gone to bed or not. At the time of his interview, you remember him and wonder whether he has gone for the interview or not. You are engaged and living in another city, yet your memory keeps you connected with your son.

Similarly, bhaktas connect with God. While performing their duties and responsibilities, they do not waste time sitting for twenty-four hours in front of a statue of God and crying. Those who do are not bhaktas, not karma kandi, nor upasana margi, followers of upasana, nor jnana margi, following the path of jnana, but duhkha margi, followers of sorrow. They only express their duhkha, their sorrow and pain.

Upasana means to come near; and one comes near through memory and remembrance. For remembrance mantra becomes the medium. While walking, the mantras Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, Om Dum Durgaya Namah, Om Kam Kalikaya Namah can be chanted, irrespective of the number of rounds. If one remembers the mantra even once while sitting in a vehicle, in the same way one remembers the children living in America, it remains in one's memory. This is called upasana. The three forms of bhakti performed in upasana bhakti are: remembrance of God, smriti; rituals, ceremonies, pooja, prayer ,aradhana or worship; and archana, adoration.

The last stage of bhakti is jnana kanda. This is the best path, for here the bhakta merges with the chosen deity.

Jnana bhakti

In chapter twelve of the Bhagavad Gita, the definition of the bhakta, the devotee, and bhakti, devotion, has been given by Sri Krishna. He describes the devotee who is closest to Him (12:13–14):

Adweshtaa sarvabhootaanaam maitrah karuna eva cha;
Nirmamo nirahankaarah samaduhkhasukhah kshamee.

Santushtah satatam yogee yataatmaa dridhanishchayah;
Mayyarpitamanobuddhiryo madbhaktah sa me priyah.

Sri Krishna says that devotion is a state of mind where the sense of duality has come to an end, and the devotee has established himself in the experience of his chosen deity. Therefore, the first expression of his life is adweshtaa sarvabhootaanaam, the bhakta has no sense of duality. He does not move around with the feeling of 'you' and 'I'. This is the first quality of a devotee according to Sri Krishna.

Generally devotees move around with the sense of duality: you and me, I, mine and my Lord. This devotion of duality is limited to karma kanda, rituals, and upasana, remembrance. However, the devotion of non-duality and the devotion of knowledge begin withadweshtaa sarva­bhootaanaam– no sense of duality with anyone or anything; to see divinity in all; to see the same element in every living being.

Maitrah karuna eva cha means to connect the mind with compassion and friendliness. The bhakta is the one who is full of harmony and does not dislike anybody; who does not compete; who is not jealous of anyone; who is a friend to all, full of compassion and without aggression. Santushtah satatam yogee yataatmaa dridhanishchayah – "This is the bhakta who is content; who constantly lives as a yogi; who is active, energetic and strong in conviction."

The qualities and character of a bhakta which Sri Krishna mentions are practical. This is not a concept of devotion. Jnana bhakti it is an experience of oneness with one's deity through internal purity.

Changing the association

Bhakti is an emotion. Its first form and expression is to merge this bhakti bhav with the remembrance of God. To attain this union one has to practise mantra sadhana. With mantra sadhana bhakti yoga begins.

The cultivation of bhakti bhava for spiritual aspirants and householders begins with karma kanda, the performance of rituals, as a medium to fulfil their respective desires. The culmination of karma kanda is upasana.

A yogi cultivates bhakti bhava through upasana, remembrance of God in a personalized way of worship. The culmination of upasana is jnana. This is the sequence of developing bhakti bhava as described in our scriptures.

Energy in motion is known as emotion. It is just crystal clear energy, crystal clear shakti. The body is the body, bhavana is bhavana. There is no bhavana which can be called spiritual and there is no bhavana which can be called material. Linking bhavana with a sense object gives birth to a feeling, an emotion. This association of the bhavana with an object gives birth to an understanding and an experience of emotion.

—30 July 2014, Netaji Subhash Stadium, Kolkata, India