How to know whether a particular choice or opinion is correct–that is, in keeping with the Ideal? I have for some time recommended to people that they develop a sense of observing the feeling that accompanies it. If the perception is of fear or anger or superiority, chances are the choice or mental content is also flawed. If the feeling is of love and unity, chances are the statements are “true.” This was reinforced for me today in a
passage from the book Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani, in which she describes a near-death-experience in vivid detail, but goes on to discuss the implications of what she experienced for those of us still on earth. She says on p 147:
I have discovered that to determine whether my actions stem from “doing” or “being,” I only need to look at the emotion behind my everyday decisions. Is it fear, or is it passion? If everything I do each day is driven by passion and a zest for living, then I’m “being,” but if my actions are a result of fear, then I’m in “doing” mode.
This kind of practice is one of the most basic we have to fulfill Socrates’s Ideal of self-examination. If we wish to be happy, why do we allow so much unhappiness to dominate our lives? We should be able to recognize the “ego-feelings” from a mile away and transform them before they reach us. We all know what fear feels like, and to allow it into our lives is a tacit acknowledgement that we are limited, finite beings. But if like Anita Moorjani, we realize that we are always “at One with the Universal,” we will know that there can be no death, and we will lose the wish to harm anyone–including ourselves.
Take something seemingly innocuous like gossiping, or speaking negatively about people not in our presence. We should all know by now, in these days of hacked emails, that you should never write something about anyone that you don’t want to see on the front page of the NY Times. (Of course we do it anyway.) But a deeper issue is what it does to our own soul to write or speak that way. It reinforces an identity of duplicity, of being two-faced, that limits us and will probably catch up to us eventually. But even if not, consider the cost of allowing into our mind one of these “haughty suitors.” We allow them to consume our substance–our consciousness, to reinforce our ideas of separateness, to invite in all their friends. Before we know it, they have taken over the place. So learn to see these suitors for what they are when they show up at the door, and keep it closed. Odysseus will return.