Science of feelings… Science of self-observation… Is it not something of a misnomer? What if we could reproduce good feelings at will, and let go of bad ones in a flash? What if we could recognize wrong ideas and concepts about ourselves and the world without having to suffer all of their ill effects? What if we could accept great ideas instantaneously, and live according to higher principles joyfully and harmoniously? What a wonderful world it would be!
I venture into this area fairly often. Feelings and thoughtsÂ are part of the process called â€œmy lifeâ€.Â Is it possible to apply the same scientific and statistical rigor as I do in my daily job? Not quite, and many great thinkers and scientists before me have attempted this philosophical problem.
In â€œHarmony and Unity: The life of Niels Bohrâ€ the author describes the great physicistâ€™s fondness for the unfinished story â€œAdventures of a Danish Studentâ€. In the story one of the characters, Frits, is a graduate student searching for a perfect answer. Frits is keenly aware of the I who is deciding on the answer, and start questioning the identity of that I which leads him â€œdown into a bottomless abyss, and the thinking ends up with my having an abominable headache.â€
This dilemma surely gave me plenty of headaches, and I feel sympathetic to Fritsâ€™s plight. The solution that I found took me a long time to unearth and implement in daily life.
One important aspect of understanding any process is reproducibility. Imagine being Phil in the movie â€œGroundhog Dayâ€. Under the exact same circumstances, would you feel the same feelings? Perhaps not, as our brains are wired to eventually become less excited or evenÂ bored with the routine and familiar situations. Hence, repeating the same stimuli and circumstances would probably bring some satisfaction while it lasts, but eventually itâ€™ll wear off. Similarly, we could try to avoid unpleasant situations and people, butÂ this is notÂ possible for a person with various professional and social responsibilities, interests, desires.
If controlling the external circumstances does not increase the probability of success, then what does? Manipulating self into believing that everything is grand when I donâ€™t feel that way does not work very effectively with me, either. My â€œscientificâ€ approach failed time after time, and I felt utterly hopeless.
As a matter of fact, the answer is very simple. And as many wise simple answers, it isÂ extremely hard to implement. Here I will mention a part of the answer:
â€œFirstly, MuAh [the way of being your truest-self] means realizing that the you you know is not really who you are. The you that you know is but a speck of existence compared to the cosmic you. Once you view your life with this perspective, everything changes and you realize that your life lacks centeredness. This denial of self is the first awakening.â€
The Philosophy and Practice of Harmony Meditation by Grandmaster Johwa Choi
Instead of focusing on tweaking inputs to get desired outcomes, I realized that I should focus on expanding my notion of self, on replacing that small worrying self with the larger Self.
Sometimes in tough situations I will think to myself: ifÂ I wasÂ offered a million bucks to endure this longer, wouldÂ I be able to do it? If a tiger was chasing me, wouldÂ I be able to keep going? Most of the time this thinking shuts my complaining and nagging mind right away. And I am able to focus on breathing and going deeper into the present, into the now. This is a journey worth exploring, with the new and refreshed â€œIâ€ emerging in its glory.