Han Marie Stiekema Sermes
Q. "Emotions" seem to be a
controversial issue in spiritual circles. On the one hand they are considered beneficial,
on the other they even seem to be condemned. What is your position in this matter?
A. If you emphasize only one
aspect of life, the opposite always becomes suspicious. The more your approach to life is
inclusive, the less possibility that something doesn't "fit".
Q. For instance?
A. If you think
"awareness" is everything, then "emotions" are considered
"disturbances". If, on the other hand, "emotional intelligence" is
where it is all about, then "reasoning" seems to be less desirable, for
Q. Thus cherishing an inclusive view on life
would be preferable?
A. It doesn't matter to focus
on something particular for a certain time. It helps you to thoroughly investigate that
aspect of life. Eventually though, you should return to integrate the various parts. In
practice, however, many identify themselves with a certain philosophy only. I would
recommend not to take conclusions as a starting point generally. Your learning process is
an ongoing thing, hence you should remain flexible.
Q. Because main currents
in spirituality are focusing on the Transcendence, emotions are still a somewhat neglected
area. Could you elaborate?
A. From the beginning of
patriarchal religion, men have identified with the Light at the expense of Darkness, with
the other-worldly at the expense of this-worldly. It served their purpose of escaping from
the "cycle of birth and death". "Search for Immortality" has been the
dominating driving force until these very times. The Beyond was considered to be free of
every "impurity". They say, that in THAT there is no place for earthly things.
It is the Dimension of Oneness, something which is supernatural, transparent and
Q. A Dimension in which there is no space for
such "polluted" earthly things like emotions?
A. Emotions were considered to
be the instruments of women, with which the latter were distracting men from following the
"right Path". Hence, the centuries' long opposition of "emotion"
(feminine) and "reason" (masculine). However, in recent times, parallel to the
emancipation of women, the emotional side of life has been upgraded.
Q. Please, go on.
A. Which gives a much better
picture of reality. "Even" with regard to Oneness this proves to be true. The
Quality of THAT - the Eternal Light - is indeed pure, transparent and shining. Therefore,
it is called the Essence. However, Oneness - Infinite Space - is not a separate Thing, it
is simultaneously pervading everything, the entire visible world, without exception. The
latter proves to be the content of Eternal Space. "Space" proves to be
Q. Thus, there appears to be no duality between
THAT and its content, between Oneness and emotions?
A. That's why Buddhists say
"Emptiness is form; form is Emptiness".
Q. Thus, discriminating emotions has no
spiritual justification whatsoever?
A. You may distinguish four
major groups of emotions. First of all, there are "vital emotions". They are
linked to your vital psycho-bodily functions, like eating, hunger, the senses, bodily
movement, security, love, happiness, lust for life, sex etc. The second group is the
shadow part of the first. They consist of "frustrated vital emotions". Pain,
anger, fear and inferiority complex are the most prominent ones. The third group can be
called "conditioned emotions". They are linked to special events of life. For
instance you are crazy of soccer or you feel excited by seeing a beautiful painting. These
connections can be traced back to a special event, a special person etc. in the past.
Eventually, there is the group of "transcendental emotions": joy, ecstasy,
stillness, awe, devotion, gratitude or the pain of being alienated.
Q. It seems to me, that the so-called
"negative" emotions are somewhat over-emphasized. Is that the result of the
therapeutic approach to life, which we have seen in the last decades?
A. Therapy always identifies
with problems, while spirituality emphasizes the context, in which processes are taking
place. Nowadays, there appears to be a shift from the first to the second. In practice:
from the first moment you discover your inner observer, there appears to be an inner
distance between you and your problems. You are "here", while your problems are
"there". The latter can be still there, but you (your awareness) are not
affected by them anymore.
Q. Is this the beginning of liberation?
A. By "stepping back"
within, you liberate yourself, while liberating your thoughts, emotions and desires as
well. Because you are free, they are freed too.
Q. Does this always work?
A. It is the first step.
Because of the inner space between you (awareness) and your emotion, the latter will come
up, be there for a while, while finally disappear. However, this is only true with regard
to the more superficial types of emotion, usually the "conditioned ones".
Emotions that are fixed on a deeper layer, f.i. the "frustrated vital ones" will
not so easily subside. Moreover, these emotions are parts of you, that once have been
denied e.g. excluded and suppressed. The way to cope with them is not just "letting
them go". As stepchildren they should become re-integrated into the whole, once
again. In order to achieve this we have developed "Emotional
self-integration"*. It is based on integrating parts of yourself, which were once
* It were Hal Stone and Sidra
Winkelman, who introduced this method first ("Voice Dialogue").
Q. Quite tiring to be busy with yourself like
A. The breakthrough is, that
there proves to a positive feedback between awareness on the one hand and emotions on the
other. Awareness promotes the intensity of emotion; emotion raises the level of awareness.
The more aware you are, the more intense your experience and vice versa. Emotions that are
consciously allowed to enter your innermost core, are expanding awareness....The former
thus contributing to "inner growth". The secret is, that both remain
"independent". Neither of the two becomes overwhelmed by the other. In later
stages, however, parallel to further expansion of awareness, emotions will subside. They
will disappear into the Greater Space.
"approved" by the Great Mother?
A. The Mother is the Vessel,
the Origin of all energy. Representing death, rebirth and interconnectedness no
emotion is alien to Her, from the "negative" (destruction, death, depression,
anger, hatred) to the "positive" (rebirth, joy, trust, lust for life) to the
intermediary ones (trust, connectedness and love). Eventually, your emotions all come from
the Mother. She has approved them, before you started approving them. She is the
protectress of life in its totality, nothing excluded. Hence, entrust everything that
comes up in your mind to Her. She will accept without hesitation. To have a Cosmic Mother,
Who accepts you as you are, is the ultimate joy, security (German:
"Geborgenheit") and lust for life.
Q. This is a big difference compared to 2000
years of condemnation.
A. It is the difference between
"motherly" and "fatherly" love. Motherly love is unconditional, while
fatherly love is conditional*. That's why this is truly the beginning of a New Era, in
which people may celebrate life without feeling guilty.
* What is meant here is the
"archetype" of fatherly love. It is not a judgment about actual fathers, who
very much love their wives and children.
Mother, You are Great!
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