Emotion and identity


In recent weeks it becomes clearer and clearer how strong emotion and identity link together to form a sense of the separate self.

Let’s say a wave of annoyance or anger arises against Trump, immigrants, your spouse, your own actions.

That emotion somehow seems to cement identity.  You seem to know who you are.  You are the one, you think, riding that white-hot feeling of rage.  Or that mild buzz of disagreement.

This link seems to convince us who we are.  We are the one who wants to right wrongs.  We are independent beings deserving a say, a voice, an opinion.  The emotion bubbling alongside the thought somehow convinces us that it’s true.

I recently experienced a disagreement with my husband.  He thought one thing; I thought another.  A wave of annoyance arose.  Thoughts clamored to the surface:  he’s wrong, I’m right, the answer is of course my answer.  Simultaneously a logical part arose attempting to find a solution to our dilemma.

What was interesting is that the wave of annoyance and sense of “I” arose simultaneously attempting to convince the separate self of its existence and truth.

If you’ve done inquiry for a while, it’s sometimes possible to surf that wave of emotion and simply be with it.  To see very clearly that the emotion does NOT mean it’s coming from a separate self.  In fact, surprise!, it’s possible for the view to shift to a perspective which sees that the emotion is simply a reactive arising–and definitively not who one ultimately is.

It’s possible to look around the living room and see–once again–that what one truly is is aware, free, all-encompassing.

Identification shifts from the focused to the expansive.  It shifts to reveal the emotion as not-self.  Simply another arising in an infinite field.

The argument with the husband or Trump or your own actions?  With the shift comes an opening for something else to appear.  A space for unknown possibilities now arising out of peace.


We are not our feelings, either.

Be here, Now.

Be here, Now.

We so often derive a sense of self from what we feel.

When a feeling arises we assume that a self feels it, owns it, attaches to it.

Yet there is a profound other possibility as we explore the realm of non-duality, of what we truly are.

Quite often we first begin to realize that many thoughts aren’t true.  They’re figments.  They’re ghosts.  They’re fiction.  They are born from the mental cradle and we’ve been conditioned to create a sense of self from the flimsy thoughts which rise and fall.

We’ve created an entire world, an entire play, an entire drama literally out of thin air.  We’ve created a named creature, a self, like the main character from your favorite book.  You’re the star of your favorite TV show.  You’ve created a “you” and you want to prolong the plot another thirty or fifty years.

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Meditation arises every moment.

Emotion sparks:  Rage!

Most people (including me) often attempt to push anger away, thinking it should disappear NOW.  Shame on it for arising.  (The ego spouts judgments like:  if I were just wiser, more spiritual, a better person…this feeling would not, should not, arise.)

Today I simply watched rage arise with its unexpected paralyzing force.

Fury, sparks, wild anger!

Blue Cross and the hospital–demons, both!  How dare they bill us for $2,479.00 yet again when we’ve met our $6,000.00 deductible?  How dare, how dare? Have been on the phone hours already with hospital and insurance company alike and everyone agrees it’s inaccurate.  The latest kind & lovely representatives assured a re-billing would solve this problem once and for all.

Yet, this morning, horrors:  another Blue Cross bill for the same amount!


Pure, hot, white.

Meditation arose simultaneously to watch, to feel, to deeply experience.

Here’s what happened in slow motion:

Deep fire heat of feeling coursing through body, rising from gut, exploding toward brain in white heat.

Accompanying litany of inner despair.  Seeing reaction.  Feeling frustration, inadequacy, loss of control.  Witnessing beneath the reaction to deep sadness.

A total body encompassing of emotion, being exquisitely present with it.

Presence wrapping its invisible arms around anger.

Anger subsides, disappears altogether, leaving no residue, no trace.

Gone, gone, gone, maybe two minutes after its rising.

Even a subtle pushing away of rage will stoke the embers of anger and bring it sixfold back into consciousness.  What we resist, persists.

Anger may arise again, or again, or again, or maybe it’s off playing somewhere else.

Meeting anger as a friend, finding love within rage:  there’s a hidden gift in everything we want to annihilate.

Have you found a gift lately wrapped within an unwanted emotion?



After witnessing people argue endlessly on an on-line spiritual site, and then here in the off-line world, and stressing at their stress, and wondering why it can’t be different, and how come we all can’t just get along, and even writing a few paragraphs attempting to explain this so people would just get it~~

I settled down to see what lessons might be lurking within for yours truly.  Since I’m the one disturbed by the bicker-bicker noise, there must be a truth hiding within.  What might it be?  What might it be?

You know how you eat an apple?  You bite past the red crunchy exterior to the sweet or tart white fruit within.  That’s how we can dive into ourselves, too.  Past the exterior of bicker-bicker to the emotional charge which sparks beneath like an electrical wire sizzling on the earth.

I am learning, like a baby, how to simply be with raw feeling, emotion.  So truly be present with that wire jumpin’ helter skelter like the earth is something foreign and painful instead of sacred ground.

What is the lesson hiding out in bicker-bicker?  What is it for me?  (For you it will be something different, or perhaps you’ve already resolved and integrated this one.)

I feel the hurt for long minutes, hours perhaps.  Wash dishes, dry dishes.  Still feeling bicker-bicker as the charge it is, the pain, the suffering. 

Mumbling, “Why can’t they just let everyone be?  Why is it always an attack and a defense, a mini-war?  Why can’t they see the difference?”

And then it hits, like the way you clap your hand against the side of your head with great ah-ha feeling rushing through every pore.

I get it.

I suddenly see how I have wanted the world to be different, to be this endless loving presence, this bicker-less getting along.  I have expected the world to eventually conform to a standard of wine & roses, no more wars, of pink sunsets staining the horizon, Happily Ever After, everything turning out better than OK.

Even though part of me disagrees with this ah-ha moment (the part that had already applied this to other parts of life).  Once again, fighting against “what is” reveals itself to be an amazing waste of energy.

Ah ha.  Bicker-bicker exists.  People will express their opinions and other people will shout, “NO!  NO!  You are so wrong!”   Other people will gather to exclaim, “YES!  YES!  You are so right!”

Because we must see, truly must see, where our hearts won’t embrace it all.  The bicker-bicker will go on until we’ve thrown our arms around every last bit of it.  Accepted what is.  Even if it’s bicker-bicker.  Even the bicker-bicker inside ourselves.  Especially ourselves.

And who knows?  I believe–(“Oh I have a dream, Martin Luther King”) that when our acceptance gets big enough perhaps something will shift.  Perhaps we’ll simply let our guns and arrows drop to the ground and sip tea together.

Quivering heart (Ode to Gaia)


 Sometimes our heart quivers with tenderness, with grief.

Like a stringed instrument, it sings in tears and pain.

It wails a fragile goodbye, trilling upwards into the ache

of a symphony.

In order to live, we sometimes lose.

We lose our beat, our rhythm, our best friend, our sacred space.

We lose our health, our elders, keys to the hearth.

Tears wash our sight; cleanse our eyes; make new

that which would cling to the old forever.

Far in the distance the mourning dove coos its ancient song.

We remember when our hearts swelled in joy beating

forever, forever.

When the sun sets, only shadows remember.

Quivering heart, I enfold you in a love

which embraces it all.

Don’t lose trust, dear one.

Morning comes soon in pulsing soft blue and pink glory,

birth pangs of a new day.