There's spectrum that humans exist on as it relates to our emotional life. On one side are psychopaths. These are not the psychopaths that you're probably thinking of that you learned about from the movies-- the evil people who's existence is based on tormenting others. The clinical definition of psychopathy is a low or even non-existent capability for internal emotions and empathy. Its as if their emotional self is stunted or muted. In its place is a cold rationality motivated solely by self- interest.
On the other end of this spectrum are empaths-- people that not only feel their own emotions very strongly but pick up the emotions of others too. By pick up, I mean that empaths can actually feel what others are feeling and process it inside themselves. There's a lot of interesting research on mirror neurons for more on this. If you’ve read anything about Kundalini Mediumship or have experienced it, you know that emotions are the key to the whole process of accessing our kundalini.
What most people have learned to do in our society (starting at a young age) is try to shut down, disconnect from and judge their emotions. This process is actually at the heart of addiction, as people try to shut out or block out the pain and suffering arising from past karma and traumatic experiences. Kundalini Mediumship is about actually connecting to and diving into what we feel, allowing ourselves to experience the totality of our emotions. The emotions that most people disconnect from are like the outer layer of an onion. The fear, shame, hatred, self-loathing, all of these “negative” emotions that we try to push out or medicate away are not symptoms that we can get rid of. In fact the more we push them away the worse they'll be when they come back.
From another perspective, these emotions are actually manifestations of our divine self trying to communicate with us. Our emotional self is intricately connected to our spiritual core. There is a transformative process that happens when we don’t try to change our feelings, but when we actually own them. Paradoxically, by not trying to change or do anything other than be with them they will start to change on their own. This is what’s at the heart of any meditation practice. By being with our emotions and the stories that come with them we can actually journey into deeper layers of our emotional onion. Our emotions and sensations will shift, peel away, maybe even return in a different form. When we allow ourselves to really experience the full range of our emotions we will see that all emotions are a part of us, and at the same time not us. And, for those of us that are empathic, we will feel a thread that connects us to everyone and everything else. This is the true gift and curse of the empath-- to truly feel the depth of emotional interconnection which is really spiritual interconnection.
I mentioned gurus in the title of this blog post-- so how does this relate? Well the guru is described in ancient texts as someone who awakens our inner knowledge. But a deeper ability of a true guru (as explained to me by Muktananda and Bhagavan Das) is to actually take in and transform their disciple’s karma. Bhagavan Das told a story of his guru Neem Karoli Baba about this. Neem Karoli had a lot of disciples, and a lot of people that just wanted to see or touch him, because his power was so radiant and people just wanted a taste of it. Muktananda and his guru Nityananda were the same way. All these gurus had a reputation for fits of anger, constantly yelling at people to go away!
There is even a story Bhagavan Das told where a rich guy came to Neem Karoli’s temple and tried to donate money. Neem Karoli told the rich guy to get out and take his money with him. But the guy later snuck his money into the donation box and left the temple. When Neem Karoli found it, he had one of his disciples track the guy down and return his money. This sounds totally ridiculous to people in our society, right? Someone tries to give you money and you devote a ton of time and resources trying to not to take it? But let's look at it this way-- the rich guy was trying to buy his way out of his karma. By giving money to Neem Karoli, he was giving away a part of his karma to him. In every energetic exchange there is a karmic thread that binds the actors. Its as if the universe keeps track of every bit of karma, and in the final karmic accounting the giving and receiving have to add up. It's kind of like the spiritual version of Newton’s third law of thermodynamics-- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no one-way transferrence of energy. By giving money to Neem Karoli, an equal amount of his karma also had to be transferred to Neem Karoli. At some level Neem Karoli decided that he would not accept the rich guy’s karma. Maybe he thought the rich guy was an asshole or did not have a good heart and was self-centered. As Bhagavan Das’ later said “this guru stuff is serious business” so don't play around with it. I believe the same thing is true for empaths. On a certain level, by feeling and picking up others’ emotions, empaths are processing a part of others’ karma.
There is also an interesting dynamic with empaths in that they frequently get tangled up with takers-- energy vampires, narcissists, and the aforementioned psychopaths. So how do empaths navigate these areas? Whats the lesson?
The lesson is to have clear and ferocious boundaries. These boundaries are not walls that prevent us from empathy. Some people try to build up a wall. But you'll have to keep building and building this wall, because it will keep crashing. Its not built on anything but a mental construct, and that takes a lot of work to keep up.
Instead, the boundary is an intrinsic part of us based on our love of self and desire to keep ourselves spiritually healthy. From this boundary comes a voice and a power that acknowledges the depth and seriousness of this work. Empaths need to feel and understand others’ intentions very strongly. We need to learn how to honor our own physical and energetic bodies and the process of karmic transference. And we need to be very clear when working with others' karma. Just because we love someone very deeply does not mean we need to solve all their problems. Empaths cannot be complacent, we can’t numb ourselves, we can’t check out. We have to fully dive in and own our empathic nature. We have to love very deeply, help people when the time is right and tell others to go away when its appropriate! As deep as our feeling and our heart is-- that is as sharp as our claws and fangs need to be as long as we’re in a world that has deception, cruelty and hatred.