To Feel or Not to Feel?

Go with the flow, they say.  Connect with our feelings, they say.

“I don’t feel like eating” “I feel so happy” ” I feel so sad” “I feel depressed” “I don’t feel like doing anything”

Sounds familiar?  It is becoming increasingly common to hear such statements.  Or more correctly, we are increasingly more more accepting of such statements.

It’s good isn’t it?  We are learning to be more empathetic and understanding towards others’ feelings.  On one hand, it is good that we are becoming more caring and loving by recognising what others are going through.  We start to connect with one another at a deeper level.  On the other hand, this emphasis on our feelings is starting to show its flip side:  Just as one can feel good, one can feel bad as well.

A long time ago, it is common to hear woman’s heart (decisions) described as the traffic lights, flipping this and that way every now and then.  Also, people’s feelings (emotions) like the weather, unpredictable and ever changing. Dear reader, are you affected already?  Has these few lines of words affected your feelings yet?

Like the clouds in
the sky

Don’t fret.  I think man’s heart and emotions are rather similar, also subject to change and sometimes unpredictable.  We all just lie on varying degrees in a spectrum.

So …. feel better?  That’s how easy our feelings, as in emotions, changes.

Like the clouds in the sky, our feelings come and go.  Or like when someone fart, if you let it dissipate, then the smell goes away.  If you hold on to it, trap it with a plastic bag, then the smell stays with you.

These days, we are becoming increasingly absorbed in our feelings.  There is nothing wrong about being aware of how we feel.  Our feelings are important, and I’m not here to trivialise what others are going through or are feeling.  But if we start giving it so much importance, over-importance and over-emphasis of our feelings, then we are headed for trouble.

Giving our feelings too much emphasis reinforces them and allows them to persist.  They stay as long as we allow them to.  It’s nice to want positive feelings to stay and persist.  It feels really good to solidify them.  Unfortunately, the same psychological process that give rise to positive feelings can give rise to negative feelings too.  And as long as we get used to letting positive feelings stay, persist and solidify, this mental habitual tendency is the same mechanism that can allow our negative emotions to stay, persist and solidify.

When we feel good, then it is over the top elation.  When we feel bad, then it is down in the rut, depression!

On the other end, some may ignore or deny their feelings.  Doing so, they may lose touch with themselves and allow negativity to pile up, only to blow up in their face, and often in others as well!  Chances are, one may also find it hard to be aware of others’ feelings if one is not even aware of one’s own feelings.

Instead of denying and ignoring our feelings, or becoming overly dependent or over-emphasising our feelings, perhaps there is a middle ground, a middle way.

Be aware when there are positive emotions arising, just as when there are negative ones.  But instead of holding on to them, like one may try to hold on to clouds (or fart!?), we should see that these feelings come and go, arises when there are conditions and goes away like the clouds in the sky.  Remember that feelings are impermanent.

We should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally

Where you are, try sitting with your upper torso slanted to the side at around 30 degrees.  Hold it there.  Hold.  Wait.  Ok, wait a bit longer.  Hold until you feel some strain and ache.  In fact, hold for one minute before continuing.

Did you do that?  Or did you shift your body when it feels uncomfortable?  If you shifted, congratulations!  Our heart and mind is much like that too.  If certain way of thinking or feeling is uncomfortable, we should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally, instead of allowing ourselves to hold onto such painful feelings.

We can and should learn emotional “aerobics”!  Like aerobics or yoga is on our body, it is initially not so easy on our mind and heart, for we are used to our mental habits of holding on!!  But like those physical exercises, if we learn to be malleable mentally and emotionally, then we can liberate ourselves from negative emotions that shackles us down.

The Buddha described our physical and mental faculties as like foams, bubbles, mirages, core-less, like a magician’s trick, unreal, empty, void and without substance.

Go ahead and observe.  See for yourself.  Ehipassiko.


  • Diamond Sutra – Chapter 32



Of Firefighters and Detectives

Imagine this.  YOUR house is on fire.

You call the fire department and the firefighters arrive, setting up the hoses and readies to put out the fire.

Just then, the detectives who arrives at the scene, stops the firefighters from putting out the fire.

Let us put out the fire before it spreads“, the firefighters pleaded.

Hold your horses, no one is putting out any fire till we investigate and find out who set the fire!“, rebutted the detectives.

But the hold house is going to burn down and the neighbouring houses are starting to smother“, you quipped.

Well, burn down if it has to, we are going to get to the bottom of this all.  The Who, What, When, Where, Why, How of this case!“, stated the detectives in a matter-of-factly manner.

It would be a disaster if this happens in real life.  In real life, the police control the crowd to prevent looting or owners and bystanders from risking their lives while the firefighters do their job in putting out the fire.  If  not, it would be a disaster.

But what about us?  What happens when we are ‘burning’ with rage?  Seething with anger?  Torching green with jealousy?  We tend to not put out our ‘fire’ in our mind and heart.  Sometimes we even invite others to come and inspect the fire, burning them with a mark of communal anger.  Other times, when others try to calm us down or talk some sense into us, we find more evidence to be angry, we put more fuel into our inner flame.

I am right, he is wrong!  That’s why I am angry!!  Stop trying to defending him, can’t you see that he is the one at fault?

When we relook at the statement, it becomes really queer.  It is as though the person who is “right”, should be angry, should be upset.  But why should the person who is right have to suffer the consequences of anger?  We need to remind ourselves, “If we are right and
they are wrong, we should be happy”.  Or at least not angry.  If we can manage it, have compassion for those who are wrong.

If we find that we have anger or other negative emotions, we should learn to put out the fire first before trying to play detectives and find out “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How”.

Remember, “Put out the fire first!“.


In Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta “The shorter instructions to Malunkya”, when Ven. Malunkyaputta threatens to disrobe if he is not given an answer to a series of questions unconnected to the holy life, the Buddha gives a parable of a man, who while wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison, refuses treatment until the Who, What, When, Where, Why and Hows of the poison arrow is known.



Photo of Shophouses on fire
Disclaimer: I have no link or affiliation with  The above link is provided to give due credit for the photo.

Wild Elephants Gather to Mourn Death of Elephant Whisperer

In Buddhism, we see that all sentient beings are capable of thought and emotions.  In some faiths and religion, they believe that only human beings have a soul.  Buddhists do not share such a belief in a soul that is persisting, unchanging and has an independent existence, whether in human beings or in animals.

In Buddhism, we use the word “有情” for sentient beings, literally “with feelings / emotions”.  All sentient beings have feelings, fear pain and want happiness.  In this life, we may be born as a human being with greater intellect, in other lives, we may be born in other states or realms.  Amidst the facade, we all have Buddha Nature, the potential to become totally free, free of defilements, free of worries, stress, anxieties and suffering.  Free of limitations and boundaries to truly love, care and help others.

Recognising this potential in every sentient beings, it drives our outlook and mindset in life.  It shapes our attitude towards fellow sentient beings.

Time and again, animals have proven to have emotions and exhibited loyalty and devotion to each other, and in the following case, to a human being.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives.The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

While animals do not have the facial expression to express emotions the way we humans do, it does not mean that they do not have emotions or that they do not feel.  Read on in the link above to find out how these herds of wild elephants and a man has an exchange of ‘words’ from the heart.

Not Getting What One Wants

What is tougher than not getting to eat?  Getting food placed infront of you and not allowed to eat!

During the one-day retreat on last Saturday, 24th September 2011, I mentioned to them during breakfast that not getting to eat is tough, but getting food placed in front of you and not allowed to eat is tougher!  I mentioned this as they held their breakfast in hand at 7+am, after morning puja at ~5:30am and an hour of sitting, standing and walking meditation.

During lunch, which for most people, is rather early at 11+am, I asked if they are hungry.  They weren’t that hungry yet.  And I shared “What’s worse than getting food and not allowed to eat?  … Given food when not hungry and required to eat!“.

Life is like that isn’t it.  We just don’t quite get what we want.

Sometimes we meet people that we dislike and have to work with them.  Sometimes it is the food, sometimes it is the situation … etc.  Other times, we meet people we like, but must part too early.  Or it is the place, things etc.

Life is sometimes a cruel irony.  When you are still in love with the other person and you know that the feelings are mutual, and yet for various reasons, you cannot be together and have to be apart.  Life is sometimes like this.  Like a half-drunk writer, spinning a cruel heart-wrenching novel.

That’s how life is, as cruel or painful as it is, but whichever way the next chapter is written, is up to us.  Some chapters are easier to write while others are tougher.  True friends will be there to hold the page while you write.  Sometimes they will vet through with you and fill in the little details for you too.  But sometimes they will just be there, quietly accompanying you while you write the next chapter, because they want you to be happy.  Because sometimes the chapter only allows that.  But that does not mean they love you any less, it just means they love you more than their wish to write in your chapter.  They love you and wish for you to be happy.

Or you may choose to write a different story line that your friend can join in.  Maybe a bit unconventional.  Maybe even a bit tough.  But if it is worth it, then write this chapter together and support each other through it.

Don’t choose a theme for a chapter because it is easier to write.
Don’t give up on a theme for a chapter because it is tougher to write.
Any story will have people who like or dislike it.
We should decide on the Whys ourselves, and not bog ourselves down with the Hows.  We’ll take care of the Hows once we are decided on the Whys.

Those with the Way without the Will will find a different will that is more convenient and be lost in their direction in the end.
Those with the Will without the Way will muster strength from the will, and find a way to fulfill the will!

One should think carefully before writing; a
manuscript that is corrected once too many times can sometimes be difficult to read.  Sometimes it may be better to start afresh with your friend on a clean slate.  Who knows, maybe in the next chapter they may have a chance to write together with you again.  Or maybe if you want them to write in the next line or paragraph, you can tell them too.  I’m sure they will be more than happy to join you in your chapter.  The important thing is that they want you to be happy, whether you have them writing in the chapter or not.

Your dear friend wants you to be happy.  Please be happy. ; ))


So … … ready for the next chapter?

Rational vs Emotional Types

There are rational people and there are emotional people.

Emotional people base their decisions and actions on feelings, emotions, gut feelings.

Rational people base their decisions and actions on reason and logic … or so they say.

Me thinks ….

Rational people base their decisions and actions on gut feelings, emotions and mood, but rationalises them through reason and logic.

Emotional people just cannot be bothered to rationalise their gut feelings, emotions and mood.

I am so going to get hate mail for this post!

Before you send me your comments and thoughts (read: hate mail!), observe your emotions and what you want to write.