A samurai came to see Zen master Hakuin and asked, “Is there any hell? Is there any heaven? If they exist, where are their gates?” Hearing this, Hakuin simply asked in return, “Who are you?”
“I am a samurai,” replied the warrior proudly. “I am a leader of samurais and even the emperor pays respect to me.” The Zen master started laughing and exclaimed with contempt, “You, a samurai? You look like a beggar!”
The warrior’s self-image was hurt, so he took out his sword, ready to kill Hakuin, completely oblivious to what he had come for in the first place. The Zen master giggled again and announced, “This is the gate of hell. Your anger, your pride, and your sword just opened this gate.”
The samurai understood immediately; he put his sword back in its sheath, humbly acknowledging his lesson. Seeing this, Hakuin remarked, “And now you just opened the gate of heaven.”
Heaven and hell are emotional dimensions within us all. Entering either one is an individual choice you have to make every minute of every day. It’s the choice between love and fear. Love keeps you centered in yourself—anchored in your heart intelligence and the spiritual layers of your soul—while fear sets you off.
It’s the key into the many dimensions of the ego-mind and it manifests as anger, shame, resentment, anxiety, and, well, any state that sets you off-center. It may not look or feel like fear, but the energy behind any negative emotion is the fear of losing something: affection, pleasure, money, freedom, your life, your health, your self-image, and so on.
You may be thinking that these are negative emotions, not mental dimensions, but they take over your perception, just as if you were suddenly transported into a parallel reality. Everything is shaped through layers of energy, and emotions are the mental portals of your physical experience.
They can blur your reason and compel you to react or do things you don’t even understand the consequences of. Just like the samurai in Hakuin’s story, you become your emotions when you identify with them, and you can also step out to regain your center. But it takes mental discipline and self-awareness to do so.
The emotional layer of the mind is feminine, receptive, and takes in all the impressions of the physical senses. Then the masculine layer that judges and discriminates filters those impressions to discern what’s real and acceptable, and what’s not. The ego is a virtual layer that gets in between to give you the sense of individual experience. It’s both your sense of self, which is feminine and connects you to your inner voice, and your sense of otherness, which is the masculine aspect that reflects your interpretation of the world in your interactions.
Love Is the Absolute Absence of Fear
Without ego there is no individual experience—no separate expression of the unique soul you are—but when tainted or imbalanced, as is often the case in this dysfunctional world, it becomes a painful layer that colors any new experience with past negative impressions. It can keep you attached to the physical senses, holding you back and blocking your personal and spiritual growth.
If the Feminine and Masculine within are better integrated, however, your sense of individuality directs you away from the mainstream collective unconscious that promotes an overly masculine, inequitable, and disturbing world. It pulls your awareness toward the deepest layer of the soul, where you can perceive life with your spiritual senses.
This is the real choice between heaven and hell—or between love and fear: following your inner voice in the present moment, with the mindfulness and flexibility of a martial artist, or letting the ego-mind unconsciously drag you into what stalls your growth and causes pain. Balancing the Feminine and Masculine entails strengthening your sense of self and nurturing mental discipline to remain centered. A few key points for this are:
- Carve a regular time and space to focus on something you enjoy that connects you to yourself.
- Meditate at least 15-30 minutes a day.
- Observe how you feel throughout the day and what triggers familiar feelings.
- Reflect on your emotions and reactions at the end of each day.
Emotions arise from your attachment to the physical. Inner peace comes from letting go of those attachments. And living a meaningful life is the juggling act between those two forces. It requires the integration of receptive, feminine qualities with the mental discernment that allows you to make conscious choices and focus on your goals; in other words, to choose love over fear and let go of what no longer serves you. Contact me today to awaken your inner samurai and master your emotional and mental energy to live the life you really want!
© 2015 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.