One day, Buddha was walking from one town to another with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were traveling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.” The disciple walked up to the lake.
When he reached it, he noticed that right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.” After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time too, he found that the lake was muddy. He returned and informed Buddha the same.
After some time, Buddha asked the disciple to go back. The disciple reached the lake to find absolutely clean and clear, pure water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha. Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean? You let it be. The mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”
The word emotions, is made up primarily of the word “motion” meaning; the process of moving or of changing place or position. In other words, an emotion, is a moving feeling. It cannot always be. It cannot stay. It is passing. This is what we must remember when we feel angry, sad or jealous. It does not define us. It only defines our current state. But it is not permanent. You must also remember this when you are feeling happy, excited or in love. It is also a feeling in the moment. It too, must pass. This is not something to fear or be upset about. “But I want us to be in love forever”. You cannot (stay) in anything forever. And thank god, for that is how we know we cannot stay angry forever or sad forever.
But we can get angry again, and we will. We can fall in love again, and we will. Perhaps even with the same person over and over. But if you stayed in love the whole time, how could you value this feeling? There is such a thing as too much heat, too much sun, too much cake. You must go without it for some time in order recognise it as a blessing. In order to appreciate it again. It is the same with sadness. It is also a blessing. To feel empathy. To cry. To release. That is why sad movies are also created. Sad books are also written. We need them too. We need to awaken all of our emotions. They are here. They are natural. They are meant to be felt. But they are not meant to be lived in.
Being in love in the romantic sense is not the same as love itself. Love itself is not an emotion. But people treat it as such. People say, I love you when you are this way, or as long as you are how I think you should be. But should you disobey me, fail my expectations, hurt me- all love is gone. I will be sure to hurt you too. This makes your love conditional, coming and going, the way emotions do. But to live a loving life, you need to live in a constant state of love. This is a practice that can only be achieved with a heightened sense of awareness. It starts with unconditional love for yourself.
When you live your life accepting yourself, forgiving yourself, and not demanding perfection from yourself, it will be easier to love others the same way. Even people you are not close to. Even strangers. So when someone creates anger in you, take a step back. Understand that this is a heightened emotion in the moment, and it will pass. Even if you are still angry in 24 hours, you will be much less emotional because you will have had time to feel other emotions in this time. You will be able to change perspective and replay the situation in your mind with understanding rather than defensiveness. You will be able to react differently than you would have when you were (in red). It is always better for yourself, and for others, when you react in yellow, or preferably in green.
Being an “emotional person” means living in your emotions. That is not good. That is when you do not allow your emotions to pass as they naturally would. You hold on to them tightly. You do not let go. And this hurts you. It does not hurt anyone else as much as it hurts you. So as part of your process of unconditional self love, practice letting your emotions do what they are meant to do. Practice living in motion.
Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind. You must be shapeless, formless, like water. -Bruce Lee