Excuse me!

Indignation, grumpiness, annoyance and aggravation, anger, fury and hate, worry and anxiety, fear and sadness, the silent treatment and bullying. These are all natural negative emotions. They are often easily explained. But are they justified?

Usually not. While there are occasions where it is rational to create any of the above mentioned emotions, they are few and far between. Given that you do in fact create your own emotions, blaming other for your creations is the fast track to lose control of your life. To regain control requires that you take responsibility for your own emotions.

Yes, people can treat you like shit. They can be rude, abusive and cruel. While you often cannot control what life dishes out to you, you can decide how you react to any situation. Like the apprentice asking his master fakir, “But Master, do you not feel the pain?” and the old man answered, “Of course I feel the pain. The trick is not minding the pain.”

Ask yourself is, “Does it help to be annoyed?”, “Does it help to worry?”, “Will it improve the situation if I get angry?” If it does help, then go ahead and be really annoyed, worry like hell or blow your top off. If it doesn’t help, then don’t give a fuck.

It’s easy enough to say this, but to live it requires lots of practice. Every shitty situation presents an opportunity to practice not creating an emotion that only adds negativity to the situation.

Celebrate improvements. If it takes you a bit longer before you get pissed, then that’s improvement. If it takes one more insult before you feel hurt, then you’re doing better. Keep practicing and you’ll keep moving toward more control of your life.

The motto: “Only do that which helps. Don’t do that which doesn’t help.

While negative emotions can be considered natural and easily explained, they shouldn’t be excused.

46 thoughts on “Excuse me!

  1. I’ve been thinking about this because of a recent interest in the work(The Work) of Byron Katie, who is the wife of Stephen Mitchell of spiritual classic translation fame. She has written several books, including “Loving What Is” and has an audiobook titled “Your Inner Awakening: 4 Questions That Will Transform Your Life”. I was reminded of this old quote from Ouspensky:

    “Q. But it seems to me there are circumstances that simply induce one to have negative emotions!

    A. This is one of the worst illusions we have. We think that negative emotions are produced by circumstances, whereas all negative emotions are in us, inside us. This is a very important point. We always think our negative emotions are produced by the fault of other people or by the fault of circumstances. We always think that. Our negative emotions are in ourselves and are produced by ourselves. There is absolutely not a single unavoidable reason why somebody else’s action or some circumstance should produce a negative emotion in me. It is only my weakness. No negative emotion can be produced by external causes if we do not want it. We have negative emotions because we permit them, justify them, explain them by external causes, and in this way we do not struggle with them.”
    ― P.D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way

    He also wrote: “The strangest and most fantastic fact about negative emotions is that people actually worship them.”

      1. Transcendental Meditation is recommended as the best researched and the best anecdotally. Practised twice a day, it’s supposed to help one stay present in the moment, but if you stop practising you lose the benefits.

        I think the mind evolved to be vigilent for outpoints in the environment but modern consumerism and advertising tell us a lack of BMW/iphone/beach body etc is an outpoint when it isn’t. I think meditation twice a day can counteract this.

          1. TM is like regular meditation but you repeat a mantra. Apparently unlike normal meditation you do need to take a course where you’re given a personalised mantra. It’s hard to find a ‘how to’ on the web so I’m contemplating taking a course. (I did get benifit from TR0).

            I wondered if you’d looked into it because of your Scio background and your coaching.

    1. Katie experienced a spontaneous enlightenment after a very long and severe depression – a real “dark night”. She was never into any kind of inner self-improvement method, but now she sometimes refers to her method as a kind of meditation. She describes it fully in all her books and offers seminars and retreats around the world.

  2. The Stoics had a really useful take on this. To them the initial reaction was NOT the emotion. The actual emotion, to a Stoic, was the one you assented to AFTER the initial physical reaction occurred.

    Interesting take. I use this a lot and it really works.

    FROM “Stoicism” by John Sellers page 115 – 116.

    STEP 1:
    “We receive impressions that present external objects to us, and we have no control over these or the ‘First Emotional Movement’ they create.”

    EXAMPLE: “OW! MY FRIEND HIT MY THUMB WITH HIS HAMMER!”

    STEP 2:
    “We make a judgement about the impressions we received, and this judgement is an act of ASSENT or which we have control. (At this point an unconscious, habitual value judgement may occur and it is here where it can be handled).”

    EXAMPLE: “YOU HIT MY HAND ON PURPOSE YOU ASSHOLE!”

    STEP 3: “If we assent to an impression with such a value judgement, the WE CREATE an emotional response”.

    EXAMPLE: “YOU INCOMPETENT ASSHOLE! Why the fuck can’t you use a goddam hammer?”

    ((NOW. AN. EMOTION. HAS. BEEN. CREATED.))

    ***

    The key is to NOT ASSENT to the negative emotion in that window of control, but to hold it in a separate space and let it “boil off” naturally while replacing it with one of these proper emotions as an act of Virtue. This takes practice and rehearsal so that eventually, these responses become automatic.

    THE THREE GOOD EMOTIONS:

    1. Joy: “How can I create happiness or enjoyment out of this appearance?”
    2. Caution. “I should be careful and ask a lot of questions, fact find and text this appearance.”
    3. Wishing or Intention. “The point is to create an unswerving focus on getting the ball in the goal. That cheating player is nothing to me.”

    Then, they would employ the technique known as “The Stoic Fork” where they ONLY allow an emotional interest in things they control, anything.

    EXAMPLE: “HE HIT MY HAND ON PURPOSE! … HOLD IT …DANGER! DANGER! Caution! Caution! Put it in cold water. Don’t explode, examine what happened in a minute. Breathe. just let it hurt a bit it’ll go away. Is my thumb okay? (moves it) Great. Damn that hurts. Any blood? No. But a black nail is in my future … my friend is apologizing like mad. Okay, he didn’t mean to do it… Whats in my control? What’s up to me? I’ll walk in a circle and manage this easily CAUTION. CAUTION. CAUTION.”

    1. Given that I have been able to go from a certain set of initial emotions to a very different set of initial emotions, this theory is proven false by my own experiences.

      1. The Stoics worked to retrain initial emotions as well. What’s explained above is a beginner’s practice for a person with entrenched patterns.

        By rehearsing difficult situations in your mind and your response to them (a kind of creative process), one can retrain initial responses as well.

        It is essentially a “Pre-Auditing” of negative events. Why wait for negative events to hurt us when we can master them before they ever take hold?

        1. That one can exercise control of one’s emotions, initial or otherwise, points to one’s own creation of them. And then it will become obvious that the ultimate exercise should be to not create those emotions in the first place. Practice not creating emotions that put you out of control (not making yourself your own enemy)

          1. Hence the Stoic notion of INDIFFERENCE.

            Stoics train to see anything outside of their control that assaults the things their souls actually control as INDIFFERENT.

            1. And I have an test for you! This month, try to not have a single, negative INITIAL reaction that you don’t have to redirect, and that doesn’t “grab you and linger”.

              If you can go a month without one (and your wife and family agree with you), you are a Sage by definition and are in position to lead the world to a higher plane.

              You. Would. Be. Buddha. Clear. Sage. Atman.

            2. I have done this, and can do this whenever. BUT, and this is what makes me doubtful of the end product here – doing this all-in kills the game of life. A soccer game where you have total control is no game at all 😉

            3. IMHO, the ability to flip flop from the states of being in control of first emotional impressions or not is the actual fulfillment of real freedom, and proof of a Sage’s attainment. If you have attained this Geir, you are truly amazing.

              I’m not here to test you, for that is up to you. But I encourage you be ruthless. CAN you actually do this? Are you filtering out your “loses” from your “wins”?

              How robust is this?

              Does it survive sleepless nights with pissy babies followed by frantic days with incompetent co-workers?

              And if so, is it possible you may just be a highly functioning person with an autistic brain? Have you been able to do this your whole life or have you acquired this through training? If it’s your whole life, you MAY have a gift from above few of us possess.

              Please don’t answer these. Because if you have attained this, it is far to precious to share with a muggle such as myself.

              But I do suggest ruthless examination. Can you REALLY quit the game and come back in with your initial emotional impressions under command? Really? R-E-A-L-L-Y?

              That answer is your own.

            4. Geir: “BUT…and this is what makes me doubtful of the end product here – doing this all-in kills the game of life. A soccer game where you have total control is no game at all”

              Every spiritual teacher I know of does have a game. To start with, they consider that fundamentally people are suffering and will continue to suffer, to one degree or another, until they awaken out of the illusion of what they consider “reality” and realize who they really are – which all of them, deep down, are seeking the answer to. These teachers’ game is to help all other beings to achieve an “awakening,” and thus to be free.

              On the other hand, I also have the idea that someone who has awakened is now enlightened and can operate in life from the standpoint of fundamental truth, and that he would do so very effectively – with insight and wisdom. That would not be a bad “end product,” would it?

            5. I can understand. But did the awakening you had not stay with you in some sense, and make a change in how you function in life?

            6. Sure. And I’m not at the end product I’m talking about yet. But I can see it. And too much control kills the fun. That’s what most spiritual gurus are not telling you. One may in fact be better off enjoying what is rather than striving for serenity. But this is of course rather obvious.

            7. “And too much control kills the fun.”

              I think some teachers would say that this is coming from the ego, that you are still under the influence of “ego consciousness,” and that this is not uncommon.

              The other thing, you probably know, is that many (if not most) teachers say that awakening involves the realization that their is no real “self” – i.e. that the self we create is essentially the ego, which is entirely fabricated, and that in fundamental reality there is only consciousness/spirt. Personally, I think there do exist individual spiritual beings, but that these may not be eternal and “permanent,’ as the Buddha taught. A Theravada Buddhist I know, who is virtually a Buddhist scholar, says that spiritual beings or thetans are not permanent but “almost” so. I can see that.

            8. It seems your not getting my point. Let’s make metaphors: if you acquired superpowers beyond that of Superman, you would have no game. If you couldn’t be hurt by anything, there would be no game. If there weren’t any ups and downs in life, there would be no fun. If you were on top of the world, there would be no further “up” to travel. If you saw that everything is an illusion, there would be no real fun. Etc.

            9. I do get your point. I’m just relaying what I understand from others. They claim that being fully awakened is a joy like no other – and that in the illusory world, joy is always only tempory. You may be right, though. we’ll see. See you “at the other end of the line” (joke – quoting LRH 😀 ).

            10. “Sure. And I’m not at the end product I’m talking about yet. But I can see it.”

              Let’s clarify.First exit the game as you claimed. Now …

              Put your volume on high. Watch the Top Five “Jump Scare” videos below.

              React with bliss and no fear. If you can really do this, you are indeed a Sage, but only if you feel NO FEAR AT ALL.

            11. Geir, I’m asking you for a self test now.

              Please watch the “Top 5 Jump Scares” while “Outside the Game.” Can you actually react with the emotion of Joy each time it attempts to scare you AS YOUR FIRST REACTION?

              Because that is essentially what you are claiming. If I err on your claimed ability, please let me know.

            12. It’s not a “reaction” It is a state of being which is a continuous outflow and in which happenings simply pass through one without causing any reaction. At least that is what I’ve experienced. No that I’m claiming to be very able to enter it or produce it at will to any great degree.

            13. I will quote katageek: “Please don’t answer these. Because if you have attained this, it is far to precious to share with a muggle such as myself.”

            14. Very well. Here is the algorithm. Watch the video on your own exterior to the game and then fill in my reaction if you like…

              IF GEIR JUMPS IN FEAR AS FIRST REACTION: “KG: You are muggle scum such as I! YOU CANNOT EXIT THE GAME AND DO THESE STATED ABILITIES. Puh-tooee!”

              IF GEIR DOESN”T REACT IN FEAR AS A FIRST REACTION TO THE VIDEO: “KG: SAGE! SAGE! You are master of your soul, teach me great guru (after I test you myself)!”

              But, it is a direct test of your claim. THAT is fact. And enough of a fact for me to be content.

            15. A fellow named “Monte” posted a comment on Marty’s blog just the other day which contains this:

              “Between stimulus and response there is an eternal emptiness and stillness that is not a here, there or where. It is an abstract that is beyond description, explanation and concepts. This is the Sun that never not shines even though clouds can make it seem to disappear.”

              This can be a “here”, in that one can experience it.

            16. Here is another test for you Sage wannabes.

              Try not to laugh and be sad instead as a initial reaction.

              I didn’t watch it till the end as I failed quickly and laughed in the first two minutes. So if there is a scare in there I really didn’t know. But I doubt it.

  3. Once, Plato was really angry at one of his servants and in a rage drug him outside, ordered off his tunic and raised his hand to strike him …

    And then he stopped – his hand in mid air …

    He stood that way for hours. After some time a passerby came by and asked him was he was doing.

    “I’m punishing and angry man,” said Plato.

    1. Hey Raf! How are you?

      Which comment is weird? The OP, or Geir claiming that he can on any given day choose to NOT instantly react in fear if a prankster jumps out at him and yells “BOO!”

      But instead giggle with glee INITIALLY to the “BOO!”?

      Or is it Plato standing with his hand in the air to punish himself for a quick temper in regards to how he treated his slave?

  4. Here are some more quotes from Ouspensky, that appear to contradict the one I first poste, about negative emotions.

    1. “There is something in us that keeps us where we find ourselves. I think this is the most awful thing of all.”
    ― P.D. Ouspensky, Strange Life of Ivan Osokin

    2. “Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine. He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease to be a machine.
    First of all, what man must know is that he is not one; he is many. He has not one permanent and unchangeable “I” or Ego. He is always different. One moment he is one, another moment he is another, the third moment he is a third, and so on, almost without end.”

    3. “Man is a machine which reacts blindly to external forces and, this being so, he has no will, and very little control of himself, if any at all. What we have to study, therefore, is not psychology-for that applies only to a developed man-but mechanics. Man is not only a machine but a machine which works very much below the standard it would be capable of maintaining if it were working properly.”

    They explain a little about the endlessly debated questions like “Free will vs. Determinism”.

    For example, Dianetics hammers at the mechanical aspect of human behavior. Scientology then does the opposite, promoting the existence, at least potentially, of Free Will. The truth, I believe, encompasses both.

    Ouspensky received some teaching from G. I. Gurdjieff, who slightly pre-dated Hubbard (He died in 1949). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff

    He said his teachings were put together from Central Asian (Sufi) sources and were very old. To me, they appear to go back to Tibet, as among modern teachers there is Chogyam Trungpa. Trungpa wrote a book titled “The Illusion of Freedom”, among others. Here is a quote:

    “The basics teachings of Buddha are about understanding what we are, who we are, why we are. When we begin to realize what we are, who we are, why we are, then we begin to realize what we are not, who we are not, why we are not. We begin to realize that we don’t have basic, substantial, solid, fundamental ground that we can exert anymore. We begin to realize that our ideas of security and our concept of freedom have been purely phantom experiences.”
    Chogyam Trungpa

    Of course the illusion of freedom is also the illusion of free will. Many people will tell you they have free will, but they do not have as much as they like to think they have. That’s Trungpa’s message. In order to be free, one must first realize one is not. Trungpa is actually quite positive and encouraging. http://www.azquotes.com/author/14826-Chogyam_Trungpa

    Thus the Stoic theory is proven false for your, and only for you but not necessarily for anyone else.

    “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is, there’s no ground.”
    Chogyam Trungpa

    I see you’ve got a new [post about your one page book. I guess I’ll head over there.

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