Once a wise man asked me, why do people watch horror movies? The question completely took me by surprise. If he asked me about God, consciousness or scriptures, I could have made some attempt. This question I couldn’t answer. I thought yes what he is saying is right. Horror movies are very frightening, it gives us nightmares, it is not pleasant, then why do we watch them?. His answer sounded very simple but it made a profound change in my understanding of the human psyche. He said humans like the intensity of emotions. Be it pleasant or unpleasant we prefer the emotions to be as intense as possible. We feel alive because of it. Our mind is dull due to various reasons and these intense emotions give us a sense of liveliness.
Politicians, religious leaders and marketers know this very well and they try to appeal to this side of our psyche. Politicians sensationalise issues. If we closely watch their agenda we will understand. Even right political principles like Secularism, Nationalism and Social justice are used as political weapons. They are not implemented subtly instead they try to implement in grand ways to appeal to voters psyche. In the process instead of uplifting one section of people, it discriminates another section of people. Why do people like war even though they know that they are going to suffer. Many wars are fought just to satisfy their pupils. War victories could make a leader sound macho. So they force these wars. They know how to sell war victories.
Which religious leader has more followers? The one who gives wisdom? No. Wisdom is boring. Instead, if the guru makes some gimmicks, makes tall claims or if he gives funny and twisted statements, we like him. These statements and acts although they sound impossible we like them because it gives us intense emotions. Even if god comes in front of us, the ultimate thing he could offer is wisdom. Some marketers claimed their fairness cream can change complexion within 14 days and they kept on saying this for decades and kept on buying because the strong emotion we have towards fair skin blinds us.
“samatvaṁ yōga ucyatē”
Krishna when talking about karma yoga, he explains Samatva – Equanimity. Equanimity is calm and compose reactions in victory and loss. Not just in victories and losses but in all circumstances of our life we need to face with equanimity. The intensity of emotions is exactly the opposite of Samatva. Imagine how we react to victories and losses. The victory parade in the victorious country and damage of properties of players in losing countries is a classical example. Not only on big occasions, even during a casual chat we need intense emotions. Due to this urge for intensity we twist facts, exaggerate and pass comments. We fail to realise these amount to lying. In the process, we could be destroying the career or image of a person and an industry. ssocial media are full of such activities.
Extreme Rajas becomes Tamas.
Here I would like to apply my favourite formula, Extreme Rajas becomes Tamas. Love is a rajasic activity, when we are not satisfied with simple love and when we try for more intense love that is when it becomes lust and pervertedness. Beautiful thing like love becomes lust and perverse, care becomes possessiveness, Passion becomes a compulsion, precaution becomes fear, procrastination becomes laziness, faith becomes fundamentalism, humour becomes body shaming and disagreements becomes confrontation and many many more. As we are not satisfied with the underlying emotion and try to intense it as much as possible.
When couples fight they soon forget the issue and fight for the behaviour of the spouse during the fight. One fight, one wrong word, can spoil all the good work we have done all the years and that is why we need to come to our senses very quickly during the confrontation and check our behaviour and if our spouse is in full flow, quit reacting wait and talk. You don’t have to accept defeat or retreat just get an adjournment, let them curse, throw a couple of punches even that is fine, give them that space. Then when things cool down present your argument.
The story where Mandana Mishra, his wife Bharathi Devi and Adi Shankaracharya debate for around a month on Mimamsa and Vedanta teaches us a lot of things and one lesson that is pertaining to this blog is the way a debate should happen. Now if we compare this to the way we are conducting ourselves in social media we can understand that the culprit is our likeness to the Intensity of emotions.
In our spiritual journey, if we cannot totally abstain from few things, the least we can do is to reduce the intensity of our emotions. From fear to anger, or from Love to Humour let every emotion be under our control.