Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
– William Butler Yeats, from A Prayer for my Daughter
Niels Bohr said, “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.” Yeats reminds us that we are self-contained, responsible for our own emotions. And it is also true that we are antennas, picking up thoughts as well as emotions from the people around us and from the collective unconscious.
I know not whence they come,
the thoughts arising in my head
From neural circuits, or recall
of something someone said,
Or telepathic processes,
or spirits of the dead.
A different beast entirely
are feelings in my breast
My heart and soul and deepest
intuition all attest
They’re shared between us, amplified
and thus we’re doubly blessed.