Friday 31 August 2012

Emotions are for moving

Intense, vehement, profound emotions are disturbing. By definition. They stir up what's calm, they tip up what's stable, they roar through stillness. Iconoclastic, they break, pierce and shatter patterns of perception, visual and visceral.

Intense grief. Intense joy. I think it was Anthony de Mello who taught that these arise from the same place, and I think he's right.

We are taught to tame our emotions, to de-authenticate them by adhering to social mores of politeness and deference and this is a delicate balance. Coaching involves developing deliberate choice as to this balance. Deciding your balance for yourself. Man is a wolf unto himself. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. Honesty is the best policy. Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take  care of themselves. Penny wise, pound foolish. Rich Dad, poor Dad. Power is taken.

Make a list of the idioms and sayings you believe, and you'll read your balance there. I was pushed to believe what I was told to believe. It didn't work in the long run. Like Jung, I shy away from belief. I prefer to know. According to the defrocked priest, Hans Kung, belief has less to do with dogma and more to do with trust. No wonder he was defrocked. Dogmatic people need to trust at the verbal level, because the emotional level is either too complex or too threatening for them.

One of the most shattering dreams I've had was of a lion coming through the wall of my childhood bedroom. There was a split-second of a roar, a charge and I woke up at some height off the bed. I could still see the lion. The wall had kept the imprint of the fierce head and shoulders, but the charge had not broken through. I had learnt the meaning of the iconoclast. T.S.Eliot does the same thing, using the image to introduce the impulse that vitalises the image:

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Emotions provide the gate for perceptions. And often, they're not allowed through, themselves. They should be invited sooner rather than later, since when the neural path dissolves, the imprint will persist. I have the idea that this is what grief is about. Profound, unverbalised recognition not only of specific loss, but of all loss, and with limited ecological intelligence, we, as a species, are helpless to understand that which we avoid either on purpose or by default.

What's your favourite feeling? Taking up the challenge? Alone-ness? Being part of the flow? Not being part of the flow? Creating structure? Creating chaos? The gratification of obedience? The defiance of individualism? You can reduce all the words of your philosophy to one true sentence about emotion, if you try hard enough.

On top of a Swiss mountain, outside a hospital, I read the words, in German: Father I do not understand You but I trust You.

That which moves us makes us who we are, and the movement persists further than synaptic milli-seconds: the connections between your fear in the last hour, and the dogged detemination of the your last decade and the hopes of your adolescence and the defining moments and patterns in childhood hold, and will yet influence the story of what's behind the gate, at the gate and through the gate of what impells you.

You should not have to believe, you should know you are not alone.

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