Understanding your personality 了解你的人格特質

Part 1 – This article
Part 2

In the last couple of days I have been confronted with a number of situations that have stirred up some powerful emotions in me. It is interesting that this is happening at a time that I have started to understand a practical and useful approach to dealing with emotions and have silently resolved within myself to practice that approach. Some words of wisdom of my father will help explain this apparent coincidence: He says

When you resolve to obtain a driver’s license, you will be faced with the driving test.”

The peculiar part is that approach that I have started to realise is mentioned in one way or the other in both of the materials that I am studying at the moment, namely Marshall Rosenberg‘s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and a compilation of some of Swami Rama’s commentary on chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras into a book called Sadhana: the Path to Enlightenment.

I would express my understanding of the ‘aim’ of the approach as a method that helps you to at the one hand gain an insight into a basic level of your being that lies beneath your emotions and on the other hand to gain the ability to direct your emotions, thoughts and actions when confronted with strong emotions. To quote from Swami Rama’s compiled commentary:

“Even though you may be a highly cultured and intelligent person, one emotion can come and make you behave irrationally. For instance, you may lose your temper and behave in a totally unexpected manner (…)

The level of desire is deeper and more powerful than the emotional level. If you study your desires it is easy to understand your life and the different aspects of your personality.”

The important insight that underlies the approach is that underneath the realm of actions lies the realm of thoughts; and underneath the realm of thoughts lies the realm of emotions (feelings). When we go even deeper than the realm of emotions, we encounter the realm of needs and desires. Swami Rama mentions another layer which lies even deeper than desires, which is the layer of subtle impressions (samskaras) in the memory bank of the mind; I have not yet recognised an experience from that layer for myself, so I will not discuss that layer here.

Now the approach itself is quite simple. Start from the layer that you are aware of at a certain moment, observe what you are experiencing at that level without judgements, and then try to look at or ask yourself what activity is present at the layer underneath the level where you just were. Then continue from that level. In essence, this is a practice of self-dialogue or contemplation.

I want to illustrate this method through an experience I had over a year ago. Once on a quiet Saturday morning I was walking home, coming back from doing groceries. I was waiting at the final traffic light before my house, where an elderly gentlemen and his wife were also waiting to cross the road. While we were waiting there an ambulance came racing by with its sirens on. There seemed to be a big emergency because the ambulance made a sudden right turn and crossed a sidewalk to end up in the street where it needed to be. The gentlemen standing next to me was suddenly getting angry and he started saying to his wife, “What kind of dangerous and reckless driving is this?! This should be made illegal!” and so on.

In the meantime I was getting very annoyed and angry myself, because I couldn’t really understand why the man would feel the need to complain about something that seemed so obvious to me. I soon became aware of how tense I had made my body. Experiencing that tension with curiosity, I quickly became aware of my thoughts. I was thinking things like “Oh my God! What an idiot! How can he be so dumb not to understand this?!” I was not judging these thoughts, I simply saw the thoughts passing through me. I then saw through them and realised they were thoughts coming from anger. My anger was leading me to mental complaints. When I stopped going with the anger and simply started feeling and observing it, I asked myself, “Wait a minute. Why am I getting angry? What am I trying to achieve?” I got one of the most shocking answers of my life. I answered myself with, “I want to feel better than that person. When I complain about him, I feel better about myself.”

After receiving that answer, the whole chain stopped by itself. No more feelings of anger, no more angry thoughts and no more tension in the body. Since that day I do not complain as much anymore, because I gained a simple insight into that part of myself from which those thoughts are coming and that there is another way to nurture that part.

Part 1 – 本文
Part 2

過去幾天裡,我碰上一些使我產生強烈情緒反應的狀況。有趣的是,就在我開始對於處理情緒的實際有效的方法有所理解,也在心裡暗自下定決心要好好練習這個方法的時候,這些狀況就出現了。我父親曾說過一段很富含智慧的話,可以用來解釋這樣的巧合,他說:

「當你下定決心要拿到駕駛執照時,你就會面臨駕照考試。」

有趣的是,在我目前所學習的Marshall Rosenberg的非暴力溝通課程以及一本集結拉瑪大師針對《瑜珈經》第二章的講解《修行:開悟之路》當中,都提到這個我開始有所認識的方法。。

我對這個方法的「目標」的理解是,它一方面幫助你深入觀察那隱藏在情緒之下的個人存在的基本層面,另一方面幫助你在面臨強烈情緒反應時,能夠導引自己的情緒、思考和行動。拉瑪大師在《修行:開悟之路》中說:

「即使你是一個非常有教養、非常聰明的人,有時候情緒一來,它能使你表現得毫無理性。例如,你可能大發脾氣,做出意料之外的行為…」

「慾望的層次要比情緒層次來得更深、更強大。如果你能夠深入探討自己的慾望,那麼你將更容易了解自己的人生和人格特質的不同層面。」

這個方法的重點在於,在行動之下,隱藏著思想;在思想之下,隱藏著情緒(感覺)。當我們更深入探討情緒時,我們會發現需求和渴望。拉瑪大師提到一個比慾望更深的層次,那就是心智的記憶儲存庫中,那些細微的印記(samskara)。我還沒有碰過來自那個層次的經驗,所以在這裡我就不討論它。

我所說的這個方法其實很簡單。從你在某一刻所覺知的層次開始,不帶論斷地觀察在那個層次所經歷的一切,然後試著觀看或問問自己,你之前所在的那個層次之下,有什麼樣的活動正進行著,接著再從這一層次繼續觀察。基本上,這是一個自我對話或沈思的練習。

讓我舉個例子來說明。有一個安靜的星期六早晨,我剛買完東西,走在回家的路上。在我家附近的路口,我等著紅綠燈,此時有一位老先生和他的妻子也一起等著。就在我們等待的時候,有一輛救護車警笛大響地急駛而過。我想狀況可能十分緊急,只見救護車突然往右轉,開上人行道去。這位站在我旁邊的老先生突然變得很生氣,對他的妻子說:「怎麼有人開車這麼危險,這麼不小心!這應該是違法的!

聽到這段話,我自己也感到很生氣,因為我不了解,這位老先生為什麼無法理解在我眼中很明顯的事情。我很快地意識到我的身體突然變得緊繃。我好奇地觀察這份緊繃感,很快地察覺到我的思緒。我正想著:「天啊!真是個笨蛋!怎麼能這麼笨,連這都不懂?」我並沒有針對這些思緒做任何評斷。我看著它們,了解到這些思緒是來自於憤怒。我的憤怒引發內心的抱怨。當我停止隨著憤怒起舞,轉而經歷、觀察這份情緒時,我問自己:「等等,我為什麼要生氣呢?我到底想做什麼呢?」此時我得到人生中最叫人震驚的答案之一。我回答自己道:「我想要感到比這個人優越。當我抱怨這個人的時候,我覺得自己比他優越。」

在獲得這個答案後,這整個事件停止了。我不再感到生氣,不再有憤怒的情緒,身體不再緊繃。從那天起,我不再那麼常抱怨,因為我觀察到內心情緒的起源,並了解到我可以運用另一種方式培養它。

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