Most modern styles of spiritual practice emphasize the perceived importance of us getting in touch with our inner feelings. It is from this core belief that Western society has spawned an infinite number of psychotherapies, as well as psychotherapists, specifically designed to engage with the feelings and emotions of their clients.
In his book Feeling Wisdom: Working with Emotions Using Buddhist Teachings and Western PsychologyRob Preece poses what to many in today’s spirituality movement is a sacrilegious question: might we be wrong in using emotions as the litmus test of our success, or otherwise, when becoming spiritually awakened?
The author approaches this question from the context of his own personal studies into Buddhism.
He points out that, from a Buddhist perspective, our Western need to understand and develop our emotional nature is quite incorrect.
As Preece points out, there is no equivalent word for ’emotions’ in Tibetan Buddhism. Their definition of the concept of ‘feeling’ is quite different from the one that has become so popular here in the West.
However, the author does not propose that either the Eastern or Western approach to the subject is wholly correct.
Instead, he recommends that a more reasoned approach to the issues presented by feelings and emotions is to be found through a unity of the two disciplines.
Thus, throughout the book, Preece proposes ways that each of us can live with our feelings but in such a way that they draw to the surface the light of the wisdom that is to be found deep within emotional responses.
In the first part of his book, Feeling Wisdom, the author maps out the territory that is our feeling life whilst drawing upon both Buddhist and Western perspectives to describe what it is and how it works.
In the second part, he reveals some of the important ingredients for transforming your emotional life and then, in part three, Rob Preece investigates the quality of feeling as it unfolds into its wisdom nature.
Throughout his book, Preece emphasizes that what so many of us lack in our daily lives is the ability to be comfortable with our own feelings.
This is something of a universal problem for all of us living in a more egocentric society for it ultimately leads to us not being firmly connected to our core selves.
This is a particular problem for men who in many cases are totally ambivalent to their feelings… as most women will tell you!
Whilst emotional suppression presents its own dangers through the possibility of it forming deeper neuroses within us, the author argues that it is equally dangerous to fall into the trap of continuously expressing ourlelves in an emotional way due to the risk of subconscious drives and motivations becoming habitual.
Emotions, of course, are complex. They often come in through the expression of various shades and colors. One of these deviations can be found in moods and mood-swings.
These are often ephemeral in nature but they can lead to self-victimization and/or self-pity if left unchecked.
Preece argues that, very often, the best way to resolve these trips into the unconscious is to resist the emotional pull that attempts to draw us down. As he points out, sometimes meditation can acerbate rather than cure the problem.
Staying with a Western approach to the subject of emotions and the emotional body, the author then introduces you to a definition of this part of our psycho-spiritual make-up that was identified by the Swiss psychologist C G Jung.
Jung identified four specific key elements at work within the human psyche. One of these, he termed the ‘Feeling Function’ and his ideas are investigated at length by Preece who describes it as
one of the most important psychological touchstones we have.
How then is it possible to reconcile the many different perspectives regarding feelings and emotions that exist within both Eastern spirituality and Western psychotherapy?
The author believes that the correct approach is though self-awareness, mindfullness or cognitive paths of exploration. All of these can work effectively as ways for us to connect with our inner emotional wisdom.
In Buddhism, this process is known as Mahamudra, or Mindfulness. It allows for the ebb and flow of emotions as they arise but at the same time also alleviate us of any obligation to create any sense of form around them.
The book concludes with a look at that area of deeply-seated or repressed emotional material, known as The Shadow’, which is another element of the psyche identified and explored by Jung. It also takes a close look at the subtle energy body, the nature of passion and the role that the heart plays in regulating your Self and your emotions.
Finally, it closes with a look at the main focus of this book: the attainment of awareness of the condition of Wisdom Energy.
Our Review of ‘Feeling Wisdom’ by Rob Preece
After reading the book, the question that will invariably rise in your mind is the author correct in his assessment of feelings and the part that they play, or should play, in our lives?
The arguments that he puts forth to support his view that the Western approach to emotions is wrong are very compelling.
By introducing a new definition of emotions in accordance with Jung’s interpretation, you are left feeling that the whole modern psycho-therapy movement is miles off course in its effectiveness at dealing with the issues that arise in its clients.
The same could also be said of the whole New Age movement, which I feel, after absorbing the wisdom of Feeling Wisdom, is also poor at creating a strong foundation base for modern spirituality.
This is an intelligently reasoned, well argued and thoroughly enjoyable book—the sort of publication that is so important in questioning Western spirituality whilst looking for possible alternatives in the East.
There is no doubt—and you only need to spend an evening watching programs and advertisements on any TV channel—that we are an inordinately over-emotional culture that stretches and pulls at every level of our being and yet at the same time offers very little in the way of emotional healing.
This is one of those books that can be highly instrumental in regaining our point of emotional balance and which can help us to understand the inherent wisdom that lies behind our feelings and emotional experiences.
Feeling Wisdom is a radical challenge to our established beliefs about feelings and emotions, making it an inspirational and invaluable tool for those who strive to live a truly empowered life.