I am sitting precariously on the six-inch concrete block in a dilapidated shed at the edge of a cliff. At the base of the cliff are crashing waves, hitting the coastline like an angry boxer. Protruding from the side of the cliff is an orchestra of coconut trees dancing to the instructions of the wind. Pelicans flying high and swiftly diving into the sea, like bombs from a plane, to catch fish for dinner. Navigating around my feet are batcha ants skillfully balancing cut leaves while marching like a drunkard in a zig-zag line. The smell of salt air stimulates my nostril hairs, and the sea breeze caresses my skin.
But what holds my attention like a prison cell: the passing white puffy clouds against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. I watch in fascination as this army of clouds march past, refusing to stop for me to become attached, but as if they wave goodbye as they pass me. I sit feeling both elated and angry. Elated because the puffy army of clouds is therapeutic, but angry because it refuses to shop for my enjoyment.
For several minutes I remain trapped in these mixed feelings. Until, voila! An insight from Anthony de Mello calmly pays a visit to my mind. De Mello tells us that our feelings are like passing clouds. They are not our identity. Feelings come and go like a swinging pendulum. Therefore, don’t say “I am depressed”. Rather, we should say “I am feeling depressed”. The feeling of depression is not our true identity.
Anthony de Mello
Therefore, de Mello and many mystics counsel that we see our feelings as passing clouds. De Mello advises us to take four steps.
Step One: Get in touch with your feelings. See the passing clouds.
Step Two: Understand that the feelings are in you, not in reality.
Step Three: Don’t define your true self in terms of those feelings.
Step Four: Know that “Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum.”
With this insight in hand, I start assigning a feeling to the clouds passing by. I hope that, with constant practice, it will be helpful when the feelings constantly appear on our doorstep.
One thought on “Clouds and Feelings”
Wow I loved this reflection. I’m going to assign my feelings to the passing clouds.