Glimpses of love and joy or brief moments of inner peace are possible whenever a gap occurs in the stream of thought. For most people, such gaps happen rarely and only accidentally, in moments when the mind is rendered “speechless”, sometimes triggered by great beauty, extreme physical exertion or even great danger. Suddenly, there is inner stillness. And within that stillness there is a subtle but intense joy, there is love, there is peace.
Usually such moments are short-lived as the mind quickly resumes its noise-making activity that we call thinking. Love, joy and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance. But they are not what I would call emotions. They lie beyond the emotions, on a much deeper level. So you need to become fully conscious of your emotions and be able to feel them before you can feel that which lies beyond them. Emotion literally means “disturbance.” The word comes from the Latin emovere, meaning “to disturb.”
Love, joy, and peace are deep states of Being, or rather three aspects of the state of inner connectedness with Being. As such they have no opposite. This is because they arise from beyond the mind. Emotions on the other hand, being part of the dualistic mind, are subject to the law of opposites. This simply means that you cannot have good without bad. So in the unenlightened, mind-identified condition, what is sometimes wrongly called joy is usually the short-lived pleasure side of the continuously alternating pain/pleasure cycle. Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within. The very thing that gives you pleasure today will give you pain tomorrow, or it will leave you, so its absence will give you pain. And what is often referred to as love may be pleasurable and exciting for a while, but it is an addictive clinging, an extremely need condition that can turn into its opposite at the flick of a switch. Many “love” relationships, after the initial euphoria has passed, actually oscillate between “love” and hate, attraction and attack.
Real love doesn’t make you suffer. How could it? It doesn’t suddenly turn into hate, nor does real joy turn into pain. Even before you are enlightened –before you have freed yourself from the mind — you may get glimpses of true joy, true love, or of a deep inner peace, still but vibrantly alive. These are aspects of your true nature, which is usually obscured by the mind. Even within a “normal” addictive relationship, there can be moments when the presence of something more genuine, something incorruptible, can be felt. But they will only be glimpses, soon to be covered up again through mind interference. It may seem that you had something very precious and lost it, or your mind may convince you that it was all an illusion anyway. The truth is that it wasn’t an illusion, and you cannot lose it. It is part of your natural state, which can be obscured but can never be destroyed by the mind. Even when the sky is heavily overcast, the sun hasn’t disappeared. It is still there on the other side of the clouds.
–Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
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