The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth

An Inquiry Into Feelings

I'm adopting a garden. A labyrinth.

What do you mean adopted?

Good question. I volunteered to be the one to take care of this section of the botanical garden.
I can pretend to be like a little old Zen monk, toiling away, weeding the Zen garden, day after day, ignored by the world, listening to the birds and watching the insects. (chuckles)

It must give you such a sweet feeling to adopt a labyrinth park and caretake it...

I don't know. You know how feelings go. They come and go. And the adoption thing is kind of abstract.

Sounds like spiritual bypassing.

Best to bypass it all, bypass spirituality. Bypass thinking and feeling, and reside in the unthinkable and unfeelable. The unnamable. Don't get me wrong though. I enjoy being there, most of the time. Unless the weedwackers are going, or the sanitation truck is there...(laughs).

Bypass spirituality?! What do you mean?

Take a shortcut across the labyrinth. Climb right over the bushes. We as masters get to do that (laughs). Just kidding. No, I'm referring to non-duality.

Being unfeeling does not sound like not a good state at all.

That’s not to be unfeeling or unthinking. Far from it. Be as free as a bird, feel and think whatever – allow it all. No one to do allowing.
Allowing is what we are.
Just look at the process of attaching so much importance to any one particular experience. Even the “amazing” ones.

I don’t know, I’ve had some very significant experiences of profound nature, like that one where the ego died when I was in my late teens, and was one with the cosmos, or the dark night of the soul I went through when my wife left, and I had to dig deep down into myself, and started some spiritual practices and interests in the truth that led me on this path to where I am now. It was growth.

Of course. I’m not discounting growth. Treasure it. The jewel in the heart. Being where you are now.
But none of the experience is front page news, in themselves. You see? In fact – and don’t be offended – but these experiences are actually as common as dirt. Even the most incredible ones. Just let some nice flowers grow in the dirt, is all. Don't worship the soil, as if it were special.

Well, if spirituality isn't special, I don't know what is. It's how we transcend it all, right?

It’s strange to say, but that is the nature of this “dreaming”, so to speak. Things are only special in the dream.
Yet, you can enjoy the wonder of the show.

It's not just a dream, and I really care. And I feel feelings they are very meaningful, and real. It's not an illusion. And you can't just discount the world and say it's unreal.

By saying it is a dream it only means the dream of separation. The belief and sense of separation is unreal. But this is real in the sense of being a real dream. The totality is real. You can't even have an illusion unless there is something it is unreal in comparison to. Like awareness, namely (laughs).

Sure the feelings can be meaningful. But we give everything all meaning it has – there’s nothing outside of this, the totality. So it’s meaningful and meaningless at the same time. It’s just the way it is. It’s like an incredible interlocking puzzle, a wonder that you’ll never figure out with your little pea brain. But you can get a sense that it all fits together. Nothing is out of place. Take care of what's in front of you now. Not things in abstraction, in the mind, in the imagination. A little planning is useful and fun at times - like planning to go up to the garden in a bit, or meeting some folks there to help you out. You need to coordinate in time and space, plan a little. A tool. Then drop it.

Ask how, and to who, and why things are meaningful … and if you’re lucky, and see that you are non-different – the whole thing will loosen up, free up, and you’ll have a little laugh at the universe.

But I’m unique.

Yes, totally unique, and yet non-different, at the same time, from all the other trillions of unique beings and critters. All the flowers in the field have a unique fingerprint, yet are part of the whole fabric of that field, playing their role.

It’s not ignoring them, not magnifying or holding on, not coddling either. They just like children or guests that come and go. Be happy with them, even if they are unhappy.

Ironically, you’ll have better feelings in this so-called dream by not attaching such importance, such personal significance to them… or no personal significance, really, when you come right down to it.

But I feel that my feelings do have some meaning, importance, significance. They’re my feelings after all.

They may only have some significance, at times, in the moment, such as a gut feeling that you should get out of the spot you are sitting on at the curb, and a huge truck come barreling through right at the curb. Or a lightning strike (laughs). You would be unwise to ignore that. Or you have a feeling you should tell a friend something, and your intelligence says Yes.
I’m not talking about those useful, functional feelings. The feelings that are really small news are the ones that come from the sense of the personal, the made up, the retained psychological reactions. The goop from the past that has no use, other than to make you miserable. Those especially are not front page news! The importance and meaning are entirely distorted by this weird lens of adopted personhood, the image of self-importance, and the fear and desire associated with it. It’s like a radioactive lump that gives of rays that affect everything around it.

I can kind of see that. But I feel, or sorry, it seems to me that feeling numb would not be a good thing…

I certainly would not advocate numbness. Far from it.
That’s interesting, actually. Yes, people will cope with dramatic events, or intense feelings, or stress or fear, by wanting to be numb, and they will become more numb, or use drugs to numb the feelings. Hell, even doctors prescribe medications that make one numb. Antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-this and anti-that. It’s a big industry… not to mention the entertainment and news industries (laughs) – news which is mostly a form of sick entertainment – can induce numbness too.

It’s bad.

I wouldn’t say it’s bad but it’s not very functional in the long run, and must be quite boring. You’re going to end up running into a wall. Create a tension or inner conflict, which can possibly lead to outer conflict. Or losing touch … Or at best, going around in circles. More problems than solutions there, in the long run.

So feelings are important then.

Yes and no. I’m merely trying to point to the lens through which they are seen, and the level of interest they are given. What’s natural and not. It’s not a prescription.
Just seeing, but in that seeing, something significant happens, so to speak.
Feelings are like signals on a radar screen – just facts to be taken into account – they are sensations in the body and associated thoughts – in proportion to the whole screen and the whole life. Neither ignored or made numb nor covered over, nor magnified or made into a full-length movie to show on the world screen.

And the significance – you mentioned the significance?

The significance is ultimately zero, but in the world play, the significance is the context in which they function, and the enjoyment of the meaning we give, and share. And you will notice that at night, such as in deep sleep, the bliss of that, all the feelings and thoughts are forgotten. That tells you something.

I don’t know, that seems to call for a kind of… maturity. One that is rare or hard to obtain.

Well, it’s not black and white. We are all in process as it were. All in the same boat. If you were to spend time in the personal presence of someone you consider a “sage”, you will find that out (laughs). They get angry, laugh, eat, go to the bathroom, have opinions, political ideas, preferences in the kinds of food, music, and people they like… are in a constant state of flux, like anyone else. But it’s the inner perspective on it all, they have, so to speak, that makes a difference. They don’t hold on, and feelings come and go very quickly. Like in a child.

What is that perspective? That’s what I want.

We cannot know – you can only know your own. That’s why it’s called "inner" (smiles).

(laughs). OK. I get it.

The good news, we are the same. They don’t have anything that you don’t have, ultimately. We are literally the same, the same substance, the same life, the same awareness, however you want to say it.


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Eric Platt


  1. Ric West on May 9, 2024 at 8:04 pm

    GREAT PIECE!!! Too often, the Direct Path is unfairly criticized for not adequately addressing feelings, emotions, etc. This certainly is NOT the case… it simply attempts to NOT ‘personalize’ such sensations. This article does a superb job highlighting this, etc.

    • Eric Platt on May 9, 2024 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks Ric.
      Re-reading it, I think I lectured a little bit much in places… but it’s a topic I have strong feelings about! Haha…

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