A little bit about baits and traps

“What do you understand as reality?”, I heard Carlos ask Marcelo as I approached him with the coffee I had fetched from the counter. Marcelo, script and book writer, had gifted us for years with stories of a fantastic universe, where anthropomorphic animals dueled for the charms of power and life in Morserus. Although it was a fictional world, it offered an interesting look at the reality that permeates us and explained much of what lies behind the shallow appearance that we are used to living. Carlos, translator and language teacher, with his linear reasoning helped to put order to Marcelo’s quantum mind. When creativity and discipline are aligned under the same axis the idea takes shape through art. Even before sipping his coffee, the writer replied: “Reality is the limit of the world through the eyes of the observer”. Like a good teacher, the next question deepened the previous one: “What are the parameters that establish the boundaries of reality for the individual?”. The scriptwriter had no doubts: “Conscience”. He paused and added: “However, contrary to what many people believe, consciousness is not only thinking, but also feeling. Emotions, and everything else that involves them, are ties to thinking. On the other hand, feelings foster its wings. So, while emotions create insurmountable walls to reality, feelings broaden its perception”. Carlos interrupted to know the differences between emotions and feelings. The writer explained: “Emotions, or passions, are impulses driven by shadows, which in turn feed on instincts, conditionings, wild desires, immature longings, painful memories and prejudices still rooted in the core of the being. Feelings are linked to virtues, to serene, balanced and educating sensations. They are emanations of light; it is love manifested in the diversity of its fruits”. The translator asked how one could identify if one was involved by emotions or feelings. Marcelo explained: “Joy is the main indicator. Feelings bring us into harmony with life, while passions leave us either euphoric or afflicted.” Carlos insisted: “How to know if I am joyful or euphoric?” The writer clarified: “Pay attention to the fundamentals and the depth of what you feel. Joy involves us when we understand the evolutionary movements of life and all its beauty. Euphoria engulfs us when a pleasure, merely sensory or mundane, is happens to us.” He took a sip of coffee before justifying the reasons for his work: “In Morserus the stories are told through the eyes of the shadows and I try to make the reader understand how thought is the slave of emotions.” He paused briefly and concluded as if closing one of his tales: “Only when involved by feelings, always virtuous, will thought have the freedom to go beyond the limiting walls of existence imposed by passions, always shadowy, and expand our known reality”.

I settled into my armchair. That afternoon promised great magic. Carlos provoked: “Would it be possible to separate emotions from free thinking?” Marcelo didn’t hesitate: “Thinking is an indispensable tool to transform emotions into feelings; the mind has a didactic function over the heart. The opposite is also true. While one does not remain serene, the other will not achieve the necessary agility to help the evolution of the being. They grow in perfect symbiosis. The mind needs to have sufficient strength to lead the emotions to the light. Once enlightened, they mature when transmuted into feelings. Feelings are powerful springboards to the exercise of thinking because of the impulse they provide. While this equation is not completed, reality will remain short-sighted”.

I ventured to add an ingredient to the cauldron: “When emotionally shaken we are susceptible to moral traps. In them we imprison our best choices. Then the Guardians of the Way will not allow us to move forward because we are still unprepared for the next Gates. No moment deserves any waste. Every situation is preparatory for the next step. One must be prepared to continue the journey. That is why ethics is so important, because it is a beacon and a guide; it serves as an alert or emergency brake in order to avoid the collapse of choices when the cloudiness of passions blinds us before the abyss.” I took a sip of coffee and said: “Power is in the mind, but our heart has the strength to unbalance it at the slightest distraction”.

Carlos’ gift as a teacher did not allow us any accommodation. He asked: “A cold person, the one who keeps away from his feelings and emotions, has a better perception of reality?” Marcelo’s experience as a creator of lives in Morserus made the answer easy: “No, definitely not. That person will neither be shaken by evil nor rejoiced by good. One cannot confuse a serene individual, the one who knows well how to balance feelings and emotions, with the one who represses them; they are different situations. Emotions should be educated and enlightened, never denied. When repressed or despised, they accumulate energy to explode on someone else or implode the individual himself. On the contrary, when emotions are transmuted by feelings they become impellers for a clearer and wider thinking. To give up feelings is to give up the power of transformation that they contain; it is to give up one of the best parts of our being. As if we were a boat, feelings are the sails that drive us and make us set sail from the harbours. The essence of boats is in the sailing. One cannot sail without having the sails open. This will tell how much each person navigates on reality. The mind needs this strength to reach distant and unimaginable seas.”

“On the other hand, a person moved only by feelings, without the anchor, the helm and the compass of reason, tends to become disoriented and unbalanced easily; he will be like a boat adrift that, faced with the inevitable storms, will end up crashing into the rocks of existence. He or she will experience successive shipwrecks. No ship reaches its destination simply by opening its sails to the winds of life”.

I reintroduced myself to the conversation and brought it back to its initial plumb line: “For example, imagine analysing a certain situation through the prism of a demolishing emotion like anger. Without a doubt, the world will take on dark, grey outlines; nothing and nobody will be any good; the boundaries of relationships will become narrow. Choices will follow the tracks of avoidance, hurt and retribution in the same tone. There will be no progress. On the other hand, transmuting the anger and letting yourself be involved by compassion, understanding that all mistakes are the fruit of ignorance and fear, in one of its various manifestations, makes us move forward. Examine the same fact from both points of view; notice how the perspective changes and, consequently, reality changes. Remember, consciousness is translated into the perception that each one has of him or herself and of everything around us. The deeper the understanding about ourselves, the greater the clarity about life is. This understanding brings joy to the soul, encouragement to the days, lightness to existence and multiplies the possibilities of choice. Expansion of consciousness is not only the free thinking, but also the beauty and nobility of feelings, the subtle experience of feeling. Concomitantly”. 

Good teachers are unforgettable. Carlos deepened the dialogue: “On a greater or lesser scale, whether in the gravity of committing a crime, or in ordinary acts that are not always perceived, such as indifference, contempt or sarcasm, why do we practice evil?” He then clarified the question by adapting a famous aphorism of the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre: “After all, hell is not only in others”. It was the creator of Morserus who replied, “You will understand that evil is only practised by the one who suffers.”

“The individual suffers when he distances himself from who he is, from his virtuous essence and from the ethical axis that guides him. He suffers because he cannot be and live all the things he carries as potency in his core. This happens when love, still in its embryonic stage, fails to flourish in the face of a specific fact; the perspective becomes blunted, reasoning shrinks and life is reduced.”

“Will the understanding of one who is dominated by resentment and sorrow be the same as that of the one enveloped by compassion and mercy in the face of the same fact? Of course not. So, I ask: will the choices be the different ones?”. The teacher just smiled, satisfied with the clarity of his reasoning, as if to say: “Almost always”.

Marcelo resumed the narrative: “It is undeniable that everything changes. By allowing a feeling to take the place of an emotion, we replace the lenses through which we observe the world and understand reality. While reality narrows through the lenses of dense emotions, it widens through the subtle ones”.

Taking advantage of the metaphors existing in the fantastic universe of Morserus, the author concluded: “Emotions are like nebulous galaxies that suck out the best from the traveller. Feelings are portals of light that raise the journey to other levels of existence through the transformations they provide”.

Carlos was not satisfied. Good teachers know the need for thought in movement: “Undoubtedly, because they are nebulous, emotions narrow reality by reducing the clarity of thought and, consequently, the perceptive capacity of consciousness about who we are and everything around us. However, would there be other factors limiting reality?”. The writer emptied his coffee cup and refused to proceed without the “precious black liquid”. We laughed. I went to get some more. Duly refilled, Marcelo continued: “Undoubtedly. The most active factors are the shadows because of their distorting and misleading aspects. Because of them, the masks appear; instruments we create to hide from ourselves when facing the existential mirror. The shadows tell us the lies we like to hear. To avoid the initial difficulties of the truth, they offer escape routes through inertia and illusion. But they are not the only limiting factors. Conditioning, disastrous memories, prejudices and dogmas are other terrains in which we get used to getting bogged down. As in those scenarios where the cinematographic panels in the background move, while the actors, despite their fast cars, remain in place; to the immature or inattentive spectator there will be the illusion of movement, when, in truth, nothing will have happened.”

 The translator asked the author to explain his idea further. He did so: “Since childhood there is someone to explain us about reality and show us the size of the world. Parents, teachers, friends, books and films, which despite often having the best intentions, were driven by theories they never questioned, by ideas they did not dare to subvert, by repressed dreams, by flights never taken, by news factories that spread the fear of living. ‘Put your wings away and let only the panel move’, warn those who have never gone beyond the known or the permitted. ‘Let life take you’, they advise about the security that exists in immobility. ‘Many went and never came back’, they warn without knowing what those who dared to go beyond the scenarios produced for mere collective entertainment knew. Have you ever considered that those who enjoyed those new places simply did not want to come back? Even because there isn’t much taste in going back. It is not unusual for us to inherit fear and limitations from those who guide us. Without realizing it, we learn to look with eyes that are not ours. Worse, we become addicted to them and believe they are the only ones. We insist on following the nebulous galaxies without being aware of the portals of light that are just next door”.

Carlos asked: “What is the distance between galaxies and portals?” Marcelo answered: “The distance of a simple choice. Every day we have hundreds at our disposal. We don’t use them because we don’t understand all their transformation power.”

Lively, the teacher continued to tease, “How to discern galaxies from portals?” The writer explained, “A very effective method to start is to understand what I no longer want for myself. Nobody wants what bothers them and makes them suffer, right?”. The reasoning was unshakeable. He continued: “However, avoid the temptation to think that the other is your problem. Remember, no one can have such power over you.”

The teacher wanted to go further: “There are people who are very annoying and seem to take pleasure in annoying us”. Marcelo explained: “Yes, the world is full of them. But they only affect us with our permission. Understand that this behaviour reflects the darkness of where they are internally. The lack of light causes fear. Let us have compassion, but let us be firm; let us have mercy, but let us prevent it from stealing our serenity and preventing us from walking. But pay close attention: sometimes we are one of those people. When we are in the dark, we cannot even see our own shadows. This is the moment when we are dominated, but we do not notice it. Sadness or aggressiveness are the most common painful manifestations. But suffering has two sides. When involved with love, it becomes a lever for overcoming and evolving; what is best in us blossoms. In the absence of love, suffering dulls us in order to make us insensitive to the darkness; it then becomes the guiding thread of choices driven by fear”. 

The story-maker had pointed us to a previously unknown route of travel. The translator wanted to know more: “You say that despite suffering, sadness and aggressiveness, we persist in committing greater or lesser evils because of the numbness that emotions provoke?”

The author explained, “This happens every time an emotion, by its dense cloudiness, robs us of the clarity of thought. Something common when a situation knocks us out. In the face of an unpleasant fact, we have, at first, two options. Understand the emotional and rational reasons that led us to be there. To forgive, to correct our own posture, to commit ourselves to repairing the damage and to assume the commitment before ourselves to do differently and better on the next occasion, are normal attitudes when we are more mature spiritually. When still immature, in an attempt to avoid suffering, we cut out the fact and the resulting suffering to throw it away, as if it were possible to forget. Do you realize that it is a kind of numbness, something very common to children because of their lack of understanding and possibilities? We end up carrying, at different levels, this practice with us. This is how traumas are born. Depending on their intensity, the cutting out of emotions leads to the inhibition of feelings as a way of numbing oneself so as not to suffer with the memories or not to have to deal with situations similar to those of our past.

“The fear of facing, understanding and deconstructing suffering becomes part of us and mutes the best part of us. We become insensitive to minor or major ills, as if they were inevitable. Worse, we become accustomed to them. Some stop bothering us, because we no longer feel them. They become commonplace, as if they were inevitable events in our reality. Some suffer so much that they believe in the irreversibility of pain and the sour taste of life.”

“Numbness reduces our sight and, consequently, our choices. Bitter, we start looking for the bad side of all things and people. We are drawn to the nebulous galaxies. There we will find the empire of shadows. The frontiers narrow and we allow ourselves to be sucked into the tortuous paths which, at those moments, seem more intimate to us. After all, they have been with us for a long time. However, understanding how the shadowy paths work allows us to discover how to reach the illuminated roads. The paths that shrink reality are very close: inside us. We must know how to avoid them. However, the paths along which we expand reality are in the same place. We must know how to find them”.

Carlos recalled that many people claim not to have any trauma. In reply, Marcelo quoted one of the brilliant dialogues of Zemial, one of the most incredible characters of the fantastic universe that he narrates with mastery: “What is numb in you? There you will find the abode of bitterness and pain. But do not be alarmed, the first rays of sunlight disturb those who have become accustomed to the routine of darkness.”

As we sipped our coffee before it could get cold, we let each of those words be absorbed by our minds The teacher wanted to know where the writer had learned those ideas. The author explained, “In Morserus. As I create the fictional environment of the characters I better understand the world in which I live, its relationships and needs, the causes of the sorrows and joys that limit or drive us. I understand the meaning and the reason for everything. I understand the need for endless transformations. These are some of the functions of art”. He paused briefly before adding: “At the moment I am working on a story in which the main character, despite a good heart and elevated ideas, gets careless in the face of an insane emotion and plunges into the abyss of senselessness. The greatest danger is when we believe we are inaccessible to the tricks of overwhelming passions. All attention in the worlds will never be enough”.

With his gaze wandering to distant universes, the teacher murmured: “Emotions are the appropriate bait used by moral traps. They often imprison the best choices”. The writer just arched his lips in a slight smile.

Translated by Cazmilian Zórdic.

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