RE: Emotions

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Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Emotions. We all, evey one of us, are blessed and cursed with them. That said, we all seem to be a bit afraid of them, and I notice dharma students seem to be more leery of emotions than most. Now, I'm sure that's a drastic over-simplification of the true situation, but why when we generate strong emotions do we dharma students tend to back off? Is it because we think being constantly calm is what an enlightened person does? Is that really true? How do you, as a Buddhist practitioner, deal with strong emotions?

If this topic is a duplicate then moderators, please remove it and direct me to the original.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Great, now I have Areosmith's "Sweet Emotions" going through my head!

Before we get into this, could you say what's the goal of these questions?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
The first goal, if there must be one, is really about if and how we're managing (coping with?) the natural human emotional range. Are we practicing to eliminate our emotions? Control our emotions? If it's not that, what are we doing in our practice in regard to strong emotional reactions?

Second, I've been to many a sanga, heard many a teacher. There seems to be an unstated rule at play among them: strong emotions are unseemly. They're "bad." So why is that? I think it has partly to do with the models people carry around in their heads, but maybe I'm missing something else.

Third, David (haquan) and I had a minor altercation on these message boards yesterday evening and this morning I was reading the reactions of some of the other posters afterward. David and I have exchanged messages since and we're fine. In fact. I think we ended up on a more direct and honest footing with each other, which often happens after such altercations.

How about you, betawave?
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RE: Emotions

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I'm glad goal three is accomplished! I was worried that talking about emotions in a separate thread (when the topic seemed to be related to the "intentionallity" thread) was going to expand the conflict and still not address it head-on.

I'm going to have to think a bit more beyond that.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Practice has taught me that the best way to address anything is head on, with honesty. I don't always do that, of course, but I try.
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RE: Emotions

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Okay, I'm going to take a stab at this.

I think the critical distinction is between a natural emotion and a reaction. The former has a sense of being grounded with the heart and compassion. The latter has a sense of being founded in ignorance, anger, fear, hurt, etc.

Strong emotions can belong to either category, but it's sort of like playing with fire. If I really know if an emotion is natural or a reaction, I think it's best for myself to show restraint. I would say about 95% of the time I'm glad I bit my tongue, so it seems like a decent guideline.

I haven't been in that many Sanga situations, but I think I know what you mean. I'd say about half of it is compassion (trying not to intrude on other's space and practice) and the other half is a holier-than-thou display. Does that sound about right? It might be the lesser of two evils. Imagine a retreat that was not-silent and full of displays of strong emotion... things would fall apart. That said, there can be a kind of repression reaction that happens when any group has to stifle their normal range of emotions for too long. It can get ugly, sometimes taking the form of demonizing the other or outsider.

I guess a lot of this deals with the morality/psychology side of the practice. Emotions really are onions and some great thing happen when the layers are peeled away.

When it comes to insight practice, it seems to be more about seeing emotions come and go rather than eliminating them (although they do seem to become attenuated with growing insight).

I guess that's all I got.
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RE: Emotions

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Should read: "If I really DON'T know..."
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
The sentence above should read "If I really DON'T know if an emotion is natural or a reaction..."
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 18 Join Date: 7/4/09 Recent Posts
Emotions can be great objects of investigation just like anything else. However I suspect one reason strong emotion is downplayed has to do with creating a safe container for practice. Much like guarding your senses and taking precepts, tempering emotion can help protect practice from from long periods of ego absorption. The Buddha placed emphasis on cultivating wholesome mind states and abandoning unwholesome ones. Handling the full brunt of challenging emotion skillfully can be of great benefit but I suspect only advanced practitioners can do so consistently without losing touch with process and indulging in content.

Lee
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Yes, all true, leemore. But you can't put your emotions on hold forever. Or can you?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
check out this nutter, he hit delete on something and got totally rewired:

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au

i'm all for it, makes sense to me. but it aint buddhism, thats for sure
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 0 Join Date: 8/26/09 Recent Posts
that text is too small and the pages too long. what are the cliff notes?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
and i thought *i* had add..

http://actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/aprecisofactualfreedom.htm might be what you're looking for
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 74 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
Vipassana for marines? Among other things, he knocks down a straw man of escapist eastern religions, and asks "How am I experiencing this moment of being alive?"

http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/introduction/actualfreedom3.htm
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Odd, that. It looks cult-like.

But back to my question -- is putting emotions on hold, or avoiding them altogether somehow, what we should want to do? If, as leemore says, they are objects of investigation, doesn't that point to the need to maintain emotions at some level? Or, as I asserted at some point here, aren't emotions part of what makes us human beings? How does all that fit within the practice of Buddhism?

And David, please feel free to join in. I assume you're still around?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
Gurdjieff had a prohibition against expressing negative emotions in his teaching, and along with "self-remembering" it provided the "second shock" to one's system. I think there's something to this, with some qualifications.

Incidentally, Jack Kornfield has a lot to say on this subject (especially insofar as the specific questions that Chris raises) in "A Path With a Heart" in the chapter called "True Self vs. No-Self." I can paraphrase later if people are interested.

Emotions arise from the older parts of our brains, and are linked with both our physiology and our "karma" on a collective level (as a species). It seems to me that emotions not only provide motivations, and direct our behavior on a social level, but they may also contain useful information about both ourselves and the object of the particular emotion. While in insight work emotions may be objects of investigation as far as the three characteristics goes, dealing with them on a practical level is part of the moral discipline.

I work with this stuff a lot, and I believe it's important that people feel their emotions - I just think that you shouldn't act out on them. My process, if I'm experiencing a strong emotion is to ask myself "Where is this coming from? Does this situation remind me of someone or something?" (A knowledge of common defense mechanisms is helpful here). Many times this has lead to insight about myself, the situation or person, or both. Sometimes the answer is no, and then I can count on it being an accurate intuition (like the sense of danger). Finally, communicating emotions (without acting on them) can be helpful if done skillfully. Instead of, "You $%*#@!" say "When you did or said ____ I felt angry, because ____" (As long as who you are communicating with has similar skills).

I work with
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
cmarti,

i dont understand how emotions being objects of investigation points to the need to maintain them at some level. the reason we're investigating them is due to their already being there (as opposed to being there because they're being maintained), doesn't have anything to do with trying to make them there or not there.

why does it matter if we're human beings or not? who we trying to fool?

in another sense, many emotions are painful and i would like them to not be there. i have no qualms in admitting i'm trying to do away with the more involved, conflicted aspects of my experience and things have gotten better on this front to a noticeable degree (causation or correlation? don't know).

--

haquan,

strongly agree. the experience of emotions is truly telling, and its value in doing what i want to do with my life is priceless.

--

everyone,

hey, have you guys ever distinguished between emotions and (don't know what to call it really) 'surges' in the flow that don't translate into clear emotions but are a kind of on-going experience of feeling ('underneath', if you will)? when my mind chatter dies down the latter becomes more apparent. anyone resonate?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
This is an interesting question, one that I've often pondered for the very reasons that people mention here: emotions are a central feature of our existence. In order to add to the conversation I would invoke the simple 3 trainings model, not as a ridgid divider but rather as a helpful means of making theoreticaly and practical distinctions. Emotions are clearly involved in all three trainings, ethics, concentration, & insight. W/r/t concentration and insight the various techniques are fairly clear about how to work with emotions. With concentration we largely avoid them in favor of the primary object and in insight we treat them like any other object, noticing the 3 characteristics in emotions. Where do they arise (do they have a physical manifestation, a mental manifestation)?, How do they persist? How do they change? What mind states accompany or follow them? What thoughts accompany or follow them? is there clinging, aversion, or lack of seeing associated with them? Emotions are objects, like everything else, worthy of our investigation and containing the seeds of wisdom and insight.

In the realm of ethics, my personal opinion is that the Buddhist framework, while generally helpful, is massively lacking. The precepts and suggestions regarding wholesome actions and thoughts are useful, but I've personally found Western psychology and practices associated with that to be far more helpful when looking at emotions. The contemporary notion of neurosis and shadow-work all stems from Western psychology, and is largely lacking in Buddhist psychology. Personally, I've started dabbling in particular shadow practices that work with unwanted behaviors, feelings, etc. that are based on NLP technologies. I've found them extremely helpful in actually changing particular patterns of unhelpful emotional responses.

[cont]
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RE: Emotions

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So, in short: I absolutely think that there's value in dealing with our emotional life (which is so vast and rich) from many different perspectives, not just the ethical framework of the Buddhist tradition. And, it is ok to work with our emotions at the level of content, so long as we know that this is what we're doing. Clearly, doing this is not the same as insight, and likewise insight is not the same as doing emotional content work. Both are helpful, I think, in living a full and meaningful life. :-D
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RE: Emotions

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And to add a simple observation in how skills in each can in fact support each other: I've noticed that because of my meditation training I can now engage in NLP techniques (one in particular) with much more mental clarity and precision. It's much easier for me to steady my attention and do these interior practices, and I think because of that I've had relative success with them. There are other examples of the overlap's between them, but this is just to point out that the three trainings are intimately related and can support one another a great deal.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"i dont understand how emotions being objects of investigation points to the need to maintain them at some level."

Prisoner (can I call you that?), what I meant in my ham-handed way is that, being human, we have emotions no matter what so we seem to have three choices: we can chose to react to them (most of us do this and only this), try to ignore them (impossible, I say) or examine them as objects "scientifically" as we do in our Buddhist practice. In other words, we can't examine what we deny exists.

Vince, I agree with your comments. Buddhist practice is lacking in regard to content related emotional/mental health issues, but it certainly helps one not over-react and thus maintain a steady attention on what needs attending to despite what can be overwhelming emotional whirlwinds. I wonder, is there any work out there (Daniel Goleman, maybe) that combines Buddhist practice and western psychology? I know Jack Kornfeld (as David has said) is an accomplished psychologist as well as an accomplished Buddhist teacher. Reading recommendations, anyone? I've got a copy of "A Path With Heart" and will crack it open ASAP.

David - do you really mean we should never act on our emotions? I think we should sometimes because they're often pointers to what's wrong/hurting/unhealthy/bad for us. Maybe you meant we should just react to emotions?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"hey, have you guys ever distinguished between emotions and (don't know what to call it really) 'surges' in the flow that don't translate into clear emotions but are a kind of on-going experience of feeling ('underneath', if you will)? when my mind chatter dies down the latter becomes more apparent. anyone resonate?"

Yes, this resonates. It seems to me there's can be a lot going on with my mind that is beneath its conscious surface. This "thing" tends to come to the fore when I'm tired or otherwise stressed. There is an underlying current that I can't really describe with much definition but it tends to result in a short temper, impatience, and other things of that ilk. It's a sign that I need to slow down and reconnect with a "right here, right now" awareness. Or take a nap.
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RE: Emotions

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One thing I've come to realize is that where Western psychology can really clean up the mess of neurosis and shadows, it can't quite decide when to let go of that quest. At a certain point, further psychotherapy or self analysis becomes a dog chasing its tail. If you push the quest for psychological purificiation, you wind up creating ghosts pathologies and pursuing needless cures for those creations. It's at that point that fundamental suffering and the pursuit of not-so-personal insight makes sense.

Unfortunately, I haven't seen many practitioners able to sequence these things so cleanly. It seems like many find themselves deep in the Dark Night before they are even able to look closely enough to distinguish between pathology and just the basic junk of having a human mind with fears, misery, suffering. Psychology is great at revealing the basic pattern of repression of truth/complexity of life and the resulting hurt<anger<reactiviity that masks that. But the most magical work in Daniel's book is the word: DONE.
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RE: Emotions

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I've read some essays on what morality means beyond this DONE or mostly-done stage of insight practice. It really is beyond me, but it seems like a very very nuanced kind of consideration. I can only imagine.
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RE: Emotions

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technically, i disagree that we have emotions no matter what; practically, i agree.

but moving on, i see more than those three choices. i see examining emotions by really getting into them and feeling them for all they're worth seems to make the most sense to me on an everyday level, when im not engaged in some specific kind of practice like insight. there is an insight quality to it - i'm just feeling it as it happens and being with it as it is, but with an elective emphasis on that emotion itself and not trying to take in all sensate experience (just the ones that the emotion clearly influences), and not trying to break it down into meaningless blips but intuitively figuring out how to best live with it as i actually feel it. regardless, and i mean this in the most practical and obvious and direct sense possible, i think i live best when most of 'em arent there.

and regarding the flow thing.. can you say more? so far, i'm not sure we're talking about the same thing, because while i can kind of see the stress thing, in an obscure way, this flow actually becomes more obvious to me me when im 'right here, right now', and in a way that doesn't make me short-tempered, impatient, or things of that ilk. have you ever experienced what you're talking about (that current) it in deeper meditation, or with subtler awareness?

oh another thing i could say about it: it's like a kind of energy that 'i' take and turn into an emotion.. something about when images become important. how's that feel to you? (anyone?)
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

This is a very interesting topic. It's my take that emotions (strong or subtle) are just that, emotions, and the strength that we assign to them is dependent upon how much we personally agree on the story we concoct surrounding them.

"He did this to me so I should be upset", "She does this for me so I should love her", I think that if we see the causes and conditions that the arising of emotions possess then we can readily see the three characteristics of anicca, dukkha, anatta.The Buddha said, when happiness comes, don't believe in it too much. It is not something to cry or laugh over. It isn't something that is OUT there, but rather it is from within us that these things are happening. It's only our grasping that makes things appear like this... we are always trying to make real those things that are not real.

I'm not saying that emotions do not exist, but they do not exist in and of themselves. Think back to when you were young and you had to go into someplace dark and foreboding to retrieve something. Didn't we stand at the door gathering courage, locating the item and plotting the fastest way to get in there, grab it, and run out so the phantoms in the dark won't grab us? It's just our minds painting a picture that we adhere to and take as real.

For me, personally, dealing with emotions doesn't really go beyond that. Sure there are times when I'm caught off guard and something strikes me as particularly moving, but after mentally going through the story that I would tell myself to create that emotion, it isn't nearly as strong as when it first hit me.
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RE: Emotions

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lm913,

'I'm not saying that emotions do not exist, but they do not exist in and of themselves....'

maybe it's how one defines emotions, but i contest that they, in a sense, do exist 'in and of themselves'.

'...but after mentally going through the story that I would tell myself to create that emotion, it isn't nearly as strong as when it first hit me.'

how about before you told yourself the story? do you not notice a kind of 'substrate of feeling' already there before the story-telling process sculpted it around an identity and gave it meaning?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

"maybe it's how one defines emotions, but i contest that they, in a sense, do exist 'in and of themselves"

So an emotion is something that can be separated and removed? I'm not sure how you view them as existing independently, please explain.


"how about before you told yourself the story? do you not notice a kind of 'substrate of feeling' already there before the story-telling process sculpted it around an identity and gave it meaning?"

This 'substrate of feeling' you're referring to, is it our conditioning to respond x because of y; and we are so used to responding x because of y that it feels as if it's there just trying to manifest itself? I would need an example of what you're trying to convey here. It is because of delusion that we create a story around an emotion.
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RE: Emotions

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i mean i dont think their existence is dependent on circumstances and conditioning (unless you want to say the y that x is dependent on is having been born with the kind of neural wetware that we were).

--

i'm not sure, but i think there's probably more than one kind of 'x because of y' phenomenon, and the substrate of feeling precedes at least the kind that is a story one tells oneself.

--

well there's the story that gets created, and there's the thing that story gets created from. here's a matter i've thought about a bit, which is that i can't decide which one to call 'emotion'. despite how i used it in my first sentence in this reply, i'm leaning toward equating the emotion with the story, because prior to there being a story of some sort, it doesn't really seem like an emotion.. but it's definitely something that can be felt.

regarding 'delusion', i dont know. keeping in mind how i've just defined my terms, i think what happens goes something like this:

there's a substrate of feeling (whether its always getting recreated at every moment or only sometimes, dont know). then something happens and that substrate of feeling takes on a certain character (maybe like a proto-emotion), and then if these images occur and i take them in a way that involves there being a me that things are happening to, then it becomes a story and a well-defined emotion. all three things are different in my experience.. but with one in the middle being kind of blurry sometimes.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

I'm horribly sorry, but I'm still not certain of what you mean by this "substrate of feeling". Perhaps if you could word it in a specific example I might understand where you are coming from. To me it sounds like you're describing a permanent level of some kind of base emotional state, but I might be way off on that.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Maybe we can work from an example: while sitting in meditation you reach a reasonably calm state. In this state, which I will call "neutral" because there are no obvious emotional events apparent and thoughts are at a bare minimum level. Then something stirs, bringing forth both physical and mind effects. It's the memory of an incident at your job during which you were yelled at by your boss - but underservedly.

What then happens to mind and body?

Can you observe the memory appearing before there is any physical reaction, or is there a physical reaction before the memory becomes apparent?

Is there a fraction of time during which there is obviously something happening but that thing is undefined, or is the thing always part of a thought process?

Why would emotions not be like every other object, ie; conditioned?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

To me this all sounds kinda like the concept of co-emergence but at a very intricate observational stance...

Conditioning of emotions? I'm not sure of that... I believe that our response to certain emotions is conditioned, but the emotion itself as being conditioned? It's like a infant who always seems to be angry, who taught it this anger? Does it define that emotion as anger? I think it becomes condition to be interpreted as anger and our response off of that.

Regarding the example of a stirring during meditation, I think the source of the stirring (boss yelling at you undeservedly) is one of the eight worldly dhammas (blame), but that physical response and mental response arises because of how we've dealt with such incidences from birth to where we are now. I do believe in the "neutral" state you speak of because it's one of the observations in the establishment of mindfulness (Positive/Neutral/Negative mental responses to phenomenon).
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RE: Emotions

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My use of the word "conditioned" is not meant in the way B.F. Skinner would use that word. I meant that "it" (whatever phenomena we experience) is a product of the complex web of causes that always surrounds us. It's a basic Buddhist tenet: nothing can exist on it's own, ever.

Second, unless we examine these things from, as you say, "a very intricate observational stance" we'll miss what's really going on. So, I repeat, what happens when you recall that moment at the office? What arises first, the story, the emotion, or the physical sensations?

And yes, this is all about the concept of dependent origination - in action!
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

Right, I understand that nothing can exist independent, which is why I was getting confused at greco's use of the term "substrate of feeling" as if it is constantly present from which various levels of emotions arise, that's what I gathered from his term. Kinda like water in a pot and when it's set to a boil it begins to bubble and froth, the water being the "substrate of feeling" and the boiling/frothing being an emotional event. That analogy is how I envisioned what greco was trying to get across to me..

See, now this is in terms I can relate to... you're talking about the 12 nidanas (ignorance, formations, consciousness, mind & body, sense bases, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth, old age & death) I wasn't aware the the 12 nidanas and/or 5 khandhas were structured to arise in any specific order, but rather capable of existing simultaneously with each other...
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RE: Emotions

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cmarti and lm913,

thank you for your responses.

i don't mean to say that emotions (or 'the substrate of feeling') are not conditioned in the insight sense (i did say, earlier, 'whether its always getting recreated at every moment or only sometimes, dont know' to address specifically that). but i dont think that the substrate is conditioned by events and circumstances. whereas emotions (as i use the word now, to mean clear feelings that are related to a story that happens with an image of me), i actually think that they are conditioned by those things.

it's hard to answer those questions about getting yelled at by the boss, cmarti, because these distinctions are clearest by far to me in formal practice. much harder to notice when i'm out in a situation with people and stuff.

lm913, i think your example about the baby getting angry is like the proto-emotion i was talking about. it precedes the story about the me (i assume), but is not just the substrate anymore cos something has caused it to 'surge'.

i'm really perplexed no one else has said 'yeah i see what you're talking about' or even 'yeah i think i see what you're talking about but you're overlooking / misunderstanding x y z..'

anyone else out there? thoughts? resonance? (haquan? ;))
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RE: Emotions

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Greco, I posed my questions in the context of a formal practice setting.

I can't answer the question about a "substrate" or "proto-emotion" because it remains unclear to me what tat is. Is it maybe the perception of emotion before the naming of it? If so, that's related intimately to my question. If it's related to what is going on in the subconscious mind then I submit to you all that it's not unconditioned but rather not named, i.e.; not recognized in consciousness. Which of those best describes your concept?
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RE: Emotions

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The other day at work a group of us were having a short discussion on a technical topic where everyone seemed pretty sure of what they were talking about, including myself as a minority of one. I was getting a bit annoyed that my point wasn't getting across and that I wasn't able to explain myself better. About the time I begged off and said I would email the info I was working from (a small victory for mindfulness), I perceived a rising "wave" of "emotion", which I supposed I had been riding up to that point, and had I kept on would have resulted in less mindful action. Not sure how much that relates (seems a bit mundane), but I'll throw out the phrase: non-attachment to reactions. Is "substrate of feeling" approximately the flow of "unattached reactions"?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

lol

This seems to have evolved into a thread contemplating the meaning of "substrate of emotion" emoticon
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Kind of, yes. It's apparently one of those indefinable things, or one of those things can be defined in so many ways that it's pointless to define it to begin with ;-)

So, to start over, why do you think many practitioners are often afraid to express deep emotion?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

Well, to me personally it's not as much a fear of expressing or even just feeling the strong emotions (and they do arise I'm not gonna even say that they don't! emoticon) but it seems to be such a pendulous swing in one direction and we already seem to know that it's just going to swing back again. It's more like not wanting to ride the roller coaster all over again.

I've been diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder (with schizophrenic tendencies!) so I've had some degree of feeling violent swings of emotion back and forth. It sucks.
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RE: Emotions

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oh sorry, i misread that last post.

regarding the substrate of feeling, perhaps i could define it as the experience of what's there before it's bundled together into a story-form (something that is happening to someone) ,and at that point becomes experienced in a very different way: as an emotional response replete with back-story and meaning. and a proto-emotion is kind of like a proto-bundling into a proto-story-form (its more visceral and doesn't have an obvious story).
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RE: Emotions

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So, is it like hearing the chirp of a bird before you identify/name the source of the sound?
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RE: Emotions

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no, it's more different than that. a comparison between proto-emotion/emotion : chirp/name of chirp could work though.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: lm913

Greco, I just can't visualize what you are talking about. If there is anyway that you could expound and give concrete examples or metaphors that would be most helpful instead of all of us trying to guess what a proto-emotion or substrate of feeling is
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
sorry, lm913, i didnt put much work into my last reply. i'll try to describe these things again:

what i've called, above, the substrate of feeling, is like a feeling of being, or existence, or presence. it's light, kinda transparent, and doesn't attract my attention or inspire much reflection, thought sometimes it's obvious and easy to notice. sometimes it seems localised somewhere in the body, sometimes it doesn't. it's not the mental self-image or a notion that 'this is me', and actually, i think it becomes more obvious when that stuff isn't happening. i don't really know much more to say about it.

a proto-emotion, as i named it, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, is like when something happens and i'm affected and feel a certain way, but what happened doesn't seem that important or relevant to how i feel. it colours and gives a certain character to the substrate of feeling, that is more than just kinda 'being there'. it is felt quite viscerally, and isn't sustained by a story (mental concoction), and if it were given rise to by a story, then a very brief and simple story. sometimes it really does seem to just spike by itself, like out-of-nowhere, from the substrate of feeling.

by the way, what joriki wrote rings a bell for me, but i'm not sure we're talking about exactly the same thing or at least, differentiating at the same points (a rising 'wave' of 'emotion' i would be more likely to call a 'proto-emotion' than a 'substrate of feeling'). also, i can see how with proto-emotions there isn't a kind of reaction happening that is there in situations where what i call an emotion is there (mental bundling of a story, self-image in the story, etc). and how the situation (that may have caused it) doesn't seem relevant when experiencing the proto-emotion seems relevant too.

hope that helps some.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

When we view the arising of emotions in real time we can see the subtle transition from expansive, archetypal and not-yet-formed to the contracted, defined, contextual feelings that are blatant and “solid.” Personally, the Qabalistic Tree of Life is my favorite model of the process -- all objects are presumed to descend from emptiness through unity, duality, etc. becoming more refined and limited in order to manifest. I have found, when meditating, that emotions and thoughts can be traced back to the ‘substratum’ (I think we’re talking about the same thing). On the flip side, I can become aware of thoughts and emotions earlier on in the ‘descent.’ My present reading of this phenomenon suggests that the context or “story” in which we usually become aware of emotions is less significant than commonly assumed (I bet most here agree). So often emotions are only clearly perceived within the context of the false self, which, in my experience, can give the aspirant the notion that all emotion is heavy and misleading. Even negative emotions are bearable when perceived mindfully since they are allowed to pass away.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
" I can become aware of thoughts and emotions earlier on in the ‘descent.’ My present reading of this phenomenon suggests that the context or “story” in which we usually become aware of emotions is less significant than commonly assumed (I bet most here agree)."

Yes! It is how I interpret emotions, what my mind tells me they "mean" that has always driven my reaction to them. Until I sit in meditation and really watch closely what happens when an emotion occurs. In effect, emotions interpreted by mind become the stories I live by, the narrative that starts to define "me." This contributes to the illusion that there is a permanent me with an essence that survives beyond the next moment.

Thanks, Dan_K.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
I'm wondering what effect a high level of realization might have on our emotions? Is that question, or its answer, relevant?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
I hate to be obtuse, but would it fit to call the "substrate of emotion" a "mood"? Heidegger's notion of mood was that it was a general sense of how we are doing with the whole of Being - which seems to fit somewhat based on the prisoner's descriptions. As such it would provide a generalized context for the more transititory experience of emotions.

There's a bit of science in answering the question regarding whether emotions are always connected to the body, but the short answer is "yes", and moreover, they are intimately connected to social signaling, and also play a mediating role between the physical body and cognitive tone. The chess player in a difficult position who feels fearful not only is concentrating more deeply, but his blood pressure and pulse are elevated as well.

Insofar as Vince's comments are concerned, I'm a fan of NLP, but I think it's weakness (and strength) is that it tends to be more directive than introspective - the concentration is on emotion regulation in this instance rather than on insight. This can actually be good, as it contributes to "ego strength" (posited by Kornfield as a condition of awakening - "one must find their "true self" before they can lose it"). Narrative therapy or Gestalt techniques can be used in conjunction with NLP to unpack the stories and deconstruct them (which in turn helps the process of disidentification). One of my favorite techniques is to use "conceptual personification." What does your fear look like? When does it come on? What helps it? What get's in it's way? - Imagine the entity and interview it, have a conversation - this inevitably leads to insight, and reinforces anhatta to boot.

As a sidenote, Kornfield believes that students confuse emptiness with spiritual and emotional poverty, and this contributes to their not wanting to express emotions.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
By that I assume Kornfeld means they misinterpret the term "empty?" Makes sense if so.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 9/2/09 Recent Posts
Right - they misunderstand the nature of emptiness and equate it with detachment, disengagement, and existential ennui.

He clearly feels the right direction is one of deeper engagement, and opening oneself to the experience of emotion (and everything else).
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

When I was on retreat I had panic attacks. I was overwhelmed by fear for about an hour or two at a time, and when it let up I would feel tremendously exhausted. The monk intructed me, essentially, to just keep practicing and be more mindful. It is true that when mindful and concentrated, anxiety cannot take a hold. But, once it did, I found it nearly impossible to stave it off. I would keep noting the fear, or sadness, guilt, whatever, and snap back to the touching point on my hands. I do not know if there is a better solution, on retreat atleast. Though I struggled painfully, I started to see how fickle the mental context was which perpetuated the anxiety. I could think troubling thoughts without panicking, sometimes, but othertimes it was pure hell, and the fear made me it’s b----. Whether it was day or night made a huge difference – night being more difficult. Towards the end of the retreat (which was 22 days) I simply stopped believing the voice in my head. It made a huge difference. I can still get overwhelmed by anxiety, but the experience taught me a lesson. (con't)
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

Essentially, I think that difficult emotions are searching for a contextual outlet -- a story which not only justifies them, but indulges and perpetuates them. For me the experience was like battling malicious demons, as the mental voices were trying to scare, playing devil’s advocate, taking advantage of the foolish trust in my ‘own’ inner voice. Stop listening to it. Even positive emotions were blown out of proportion on retreat. For example, I thought I was going to practically pee myself with excitement when I was reunited with my family and girlfriend, but the actual meeting was comparatively calm and tranquil. Same for the reintroduction of speech, books, TV, music. It wasn’t the big deal I was imagining while at the retreat center. It is the aversion toward fear and the craving for sensory pleasure which makes us suffer. I have no doubt about this after the retreat, as nothing actually happened in the physical realm which should have caused any suffering, it was all in my head.

Also, both the aversion and the craving were felt in the solar plexus and chest respectively. The former being a gripping tightness and the latter a rush. When they came on I felt like a puppet, but when I examined the raw physical sensation of either, I found that neither the aversion nor the craving were the ‘big deals’ they seem to be. ‘Just look at it’ was the advice which helped me the most. I believe that paying attention to, and not running from (or indulging in), the physical manifestation of fear or desire can easily thwart the condition.

I too wonder about the effect of realization.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: Dan_K

Richard Rose said that he recognized only three emotions: seduction, fear, and nostalgia. Similarly, in the Theravada they talk about lobha, dosa, and moha, which were translated as greed, hatred, and delusion. While this view may be reductionist, it may also be helpful for the aspirant, as it might demystify both postive and negative mental states. For example, to apply the flat label of ‘nostalgia’ onto one’s daydreaming cuts through the valuation applied to the content of that fantasy.

For more Richard Rose, read “After the Absolute” free at http://www.onzen.com/atatitle.htm and read his book “The Psychology of the Observer.”

Also, this article by Kenton Whitman was posted today, I think it is useful : http://kentonwhitman.com/2008/12/03/our-delicious-emotions/

Dan
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hey haquan,

good call bringing up moods, but i dont think that fits quite right either. if i had to stuff moods into one of the 3 categories i set out, they would seem to be more related to what i called 'proto-emotions'. anytime i've had a look at the 'substrate of feeling' it's been pretty moodless. but actually, moods feel more diffused than the surges of proto-emotion too. so maybe they're an intermediary step (such that for a proto-emotion to arise from the substrate of feeling, there has to be a mood there to act on the substrate).

on a side note, i just googled 'proto-emotion' and found 139 pages that already use that word (albeit in varying contexts and with, presumably, varying definitions).
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
dan_k,

i guess it depends on who or what you mean by 'us', but i really disagree here. while aversion toward fear is suffering too, fear itself is suffering already. i recognise the value in examining and dealing with both things..
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
by the way, i'm now wondering if what i called the substrate doesnt actually exist at all, except as an aspect, or facet, of possibly any sensation.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Well, you have had a lot of trouble describing what you mean. It doesn't appear as if you're speaking from a level of deep meditative experience on the subject. Which for me brings up another huge benefit of this web site: when I have trouble describing something clearly in a few sentences or can't seem to "get" something others here clearly do, it most often means I need to sit with that "thing" a lot more. Meditative experience trumps a lot of confusion for me.

So, anyway.... realization and emotions? Thoughts anyone?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hi cmarti,

actually, everything i wrote on the subject (of the difference between 'substrate of feeling', 'proto-emotion', and emotions) comes from direct and repeated meditation experience, and i find it annoying that you jump to the conclusion that it isn't because you dont personally relate to it or understand it. for the record, there hasn't been any confusion about this matter for me, i was just interested in what other people thought of it, if anyone else related to this, etc.

my last post about whether the substrate exists or not comes from me seeing - again, through direct experience - that the quality of presence i had ascribed to the 'substrate' in thinking about it might actually be less specific to certain sensations, and more general to sensations in general, than i had previously thought.

sorry if i sound a little touchy above but well, what you wrote did kinda piss me off. and this is the thread for talking about emotions, so.. ;)
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Prisoner,
What you are saying resonates with me. Does this sound like what you are talking about: When you feel an emotion there is an underlying 'energy' or sensation felt in the body (very subtle) that has a 'color' to it specific to the emotion that you are feeling? Not that it is that emotion but rather that you can see that when that subtle sensation arises it is like a precursor or root sense upon which the mind generates the emotion? So, put in other words – the subtle sense has no quality or story attached to it that defines it as anger, jealousy, or whatever – but rather it is at a deeper 'pre-mental', 'pre-emotional' level?

-Chuck
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
It's okay to be angry. I get that way, too.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
chuck,

haha.. actually yes, that's exactly what im talking about. precursor, root sense, and even the 'color', subtle physical sensation (but i find it hard to physically locate).. i relate to all those terms. thanks for responding.

now, how about the substrate thing? like, some kind of quality that is also 'prior' to that underlying energy or sensation too? or do you feel like that underlying energy is on-going and there all the time and just changes colour? because while there have been times when a proto-emotion isnt there and in its absence i notice what i call the 'substrate of feeling', when it (proto-emotion) is there it often seems like it's a continuum... but at the same time, i think that just because something is a continuum doesn't mean its always there.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Seems to me that any time I look, with sufficient concentration, that it (what you call the substrate) is there. I think of it in terms of radio frequencies: There is the 'carrier wave' which the radio tunes into and then there is the information (music, etc.) that is imprinted (modulated) on the carrier wave – the sound we hear when we tune into a station. So the 'substrate of feeling' is like the carrier wave – and various 'proto-emotions' are imprinted on that carrier according to conditions that we are experiencing. The carrier wave is there whether there is anything imprinted on it or not. What I am talking about is called the 'subtle energy body', or 'breath energy' that shows itself as the mind calms down - and I feel this is what you are becoming aware of. At least, my experience with regards to emotions is just as you describe. If this sounds right to you then there are ways to use it to further your practice – both in concentration as well as insight.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: AlanChapman

Cmarti: ‘ …why when we generate strong emotions do we dharma students tend to back off? Is it because we think being constantly calm is what an enlightened person does? Is that really true? How do you, as a Buddhist practitioner, deal with strong emotions?’

I think it’s a case of the all too common New Age tendency to confuse the emotions with spirituality. When direct personal experience is lacking of metaphysical events, the beginner only has his previous experience with which to find a meaning for many of the terms. So the characteristics of real insight (at fruition), such as equanimity, non-attachment and contentment, are translated into emotional states. If you’re not seen to be calm and detached, then you’re simply not ‘spiritual’ enough.

Cmarti: ‘So, anyway.... realization and emotions? Thoughts anyone?’

As I’ve progressed through the stages three things have occurred:

1). Once I’d done one complete insight cycle, I suddenly found a number of rather unpleasant and intense emotional states surfaced, and each lasted for a number of weeks or months. Continued practice and the exploration of past events in my life via various psycho-therapeutic techniques helped a great deal. I currently no longer suffer from past events - I like to think this is because I no longer have anything buried. I imagine mileage must vary from practitioner to practitioner. Kornfield discusses this phenomenon in detail in A Path With Heart.

(cont.)
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 22924 Join Date: 8/6/09 Recent Posts
Author: AlanChapman

2). I’m now acutely aware of my emotional state at any moment. There is nowhere for my emotions to hide, and I naturally express them in some form (hopefully appropriate to the situation) as they occur. This includes anger – I’m far more likely now to speak up if I see an injustice, find someone rude, or believe I am being taken advantage of. The question of whether or not this is the correct or most skilful moral behaviour is a good one, but at the moment I prefer to have faith in my inherent nature. I don’t think many would find it ‘spiritual’…

3). It seems to me that my emotions are more acute than they were before I began the process, but they affect me much less. Dark nights are much more severe than they were at the beginning, and although I do express the unpleasant emotions (usually in the form of moaning to my wife), they do not inhibit me in any sense, nor can I say that I really suffer with them. And sometimes I am overwhelmed with the happiness from the simplest things, much more so than before the process. I would be inclined to believe that my relationship to my emotions is actually the very same relationship I now have with all sensations: life is simply more intense, but less of a burden. I expect this relationship to deepen with 4th Path.

Thinking about it now, rather than say I enjoy a greater degree of equanimity towards emotion through my practice, I would be more inclined to say I more easily find equilibrium after a strong emotional event, because I am no longer affected by them to the same degree.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
I think our approach to emotions needs to be consistent with our experience of them. By that I mean that if I identify with them as being 'me' and 'mine' then I need to work with them in a different way from someone who has passed stream entry and has a whole new relationship with their emotions – more of a 'not self' take on things. At third path and more so after fourth, there is a process of integration with emotions as Alan brings up. But for a pre-stream winner to try that kind of integration could be a real disaster – the perspective isn't their to support that kind of engagement.

Cmarti: “I notice dharma students seem to be more leery of emotions than most”
At a pre-stream entry level (and really until third path) I think that is appropriate. I don't mean that we should deny our emotions but rather to try to avoid situations and behavior that will aggravate them – and once aggravated – to make efforts to alleviate them - it just makes it much harder to practice when we are all worked up about something.

Cmarti: “Is it because we think being constantly calm is what an enlightened person does? “
That is a commonly held belief – and there is plenty around to feed that viewpoint. As one example – one sees statements that enlightened folks are 'freed from hatred and ill will', etc. The logical conclusion is that an enlightened person won't have any more 'negative' emotions. 'Unbound' is a much better description I think and conveys better the idea of 'non-identification' as opposed to 'absence'.

(cont)
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
“...Is that really true?”
I can only speak from a rather recent fourth-path view: In a sense there is truth to it. But it has to be experienced to be understood. I agree with Alan – that was well put. Emotions become just phenomena that comes and goes – one aspect of our total experience of being – and that sense of being is much more expansive and open then before (which carries with it a sense of calmness or tranquility which is always present) – so emotions no longer have the power to grab on to me and suck me in. Not to say there is no 'sucking' – there is – but I am much more aware of it and can choose to be sucked in or not – I am never trapped by emotions (not so far anyway:-) - that is, when I am 'sucked in' I know I am (in 'real time' as Daniel puts it) and have a choice to continue or not. Another aspect is that emotions tend to fall apart more and more into their elemental qualities – so they lose allot of power. They become more patterns of energy or sensations – or just sort of a subtle tension that rises up – kind of like riding the swell of a wave.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Seems that mostly we're talking of emotions from a specific, perhaps unacknowledged perspective (sorry if I missed someone's post to the contrary). Namely, emotions are somehow that which inherently arises, tortures you, and then goes away. In this sense, the best we can do is see through the whole thing and realize the impersonal nature of this display. However, there are at least two additional dimensions to be considered. First, horizontally, we can develop positive emotions and uproot negative ones. And second, vertically, we can evolve beyond relative identification with basic emotions, and develop a dynamic meta-emotional personal stream, with emotional states being an expression and augmentation of our stage of realization. Such meta-emotions, along with meta-motives, are concerned with the whole gestalt of our situation, refer strongly do what we might call "deep time" in spiritual sense, and tend to be quite resistant to changing local circumstances. They are often pointed to when speaking of passion and compassion, zeal and enthusiasm, authenticity and inspiration etc.

Furthermore, engaging in emotional work (whether therapy or transformation, but not to be confused) from an already awakened mind, is completely different and yet even more urgent and meaningful, than, say, doing emotional work when needed because of the obstacle the unresolved emotional baggage presents on the path. Anyway, I just thought throwing this unto the table might make things more balanced.

What are your thoughts on this?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"... I enjoy a greater degree of equanimity towards emotion through my practice, I would be more inclined to say I more easily find equilibrium after a strong emotional event, because I am no longer affected by them to the same degree."

Alan, this is what I've experienced. I feel emotions intensely when they occur. They do not, however, seem to stick around much. They come, they go... they're gone. Used to be I could agonize over a perceived sleight for a week or more. I could hold a truly nasty grudge. Now I speak up immediately, say my piece to the other person directly, and move on. I have no idea if this shows progress in a moral sense, as you said, and I'm not sure anyone really notices the difference but me.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"What are your thoughts on this?"

I have some comments but first would like to ask you, Hokai, about your classification of authenticity as an emotion or meta-emotion. Can you please elaborate on that a bit? My comments are in relation to it but I want to make sure I fully get what you're saying.

Your comments also make me think of the term "emotion engineering."
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
I don't mean to say authenticity IS an emotion or a general emotional state. What I am saying is that meta-emotions are most likely implicit in anything referred to by all those terms. OK?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hokai,

its an interesting subject, alright, though i'm not sure what you mean by a 'dynamic meta-emotional personal stream' - is it basically a longer way to say 'rich and fulfilling life'?

what you've written brings to mind a friend who is not a buddhist practitioner, nor does he really relate to the buddhist practice. he's really into having a relationship with his emotions that goes far beyond wanting to resolve emotional baggage, like some kind of really meaningful game. somehow, being this way, he never seems to get tired of living or life, and doesn't relate to the weariness at it all which is oft to overcome me.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
No, i'm not saying "rich and fulfilling life", because that can mean many different things. Dynamic in this case refers to avoiding the trap of negative models of enlightenment, and instead engaging and optimizing the wider range of human experience. Meta-emotion refers in this case to emotional experience rooted in higher principles like e.g. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness (i.e. meta-motives), or in a Buddhist example, devotion and the four apramana ("unbounded") i.e. love, compassion, joy, equanimity. Finally, personal stream refers both to an enduring stability in maintaining and enhancing such and unimpeded awareness of emotional state being like a dream state.
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Okay, authenticity:

I used to have little concern for being "me" other than in a very limited, selfish way. I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be seen as smart, and so on, by others. I could convince myself, rationalize, all of that at the drop of a hat. Nowadays I have a concern that is quite different and that new concern is how I interpreted Hokai's remark about authenticity and meta-emotion. It is critically important, and not just from the usual and more limited interpersonal perspective, to be authentic in the way I experience and relate to life. And it is from this fresh perspective that I now experience emotions and choose my resulting reactions. Maybe this is just a desire to be honest with myself, but that is a new way in which I experience the highs and lows of living. It's refreshing and it's more authentic, and I want it always to be that way.

Make any sense?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
cmarti:
Yes, it does. Earlier I spoke of “[Emotions] become more patterns of energy or sensations – or just sort of a subtle tension that rises up – kind of like riding the swell of a wave. “ - I think we are talking about the same quality but let me rephrase it and see what you think: By 'riding the wave' I mean that I stay right in the present with sensations as they come up and one key aspect of those is something I can only call 'heart energy'. Let's say that this 'heart energy' has a 'flavor' of sadness – in the past I would have denied or repressed it and what would happen is that it would 'spring forth' and represent itself as a whole world 'out there' complete with all kinds of judgment, anger etc. (not that I was ever aware of this – this is hindsight speaking). Now, in order to 'ride the wave' I have to take in or be fully present with that heart energy – to really allow it to be felt and in a sense own it. There is a sense of wholeness or completeness with this practice. I have also found that if it gets away from me and is projected then I can in a sense recover that heart quality by 'unwrapping the world', throwing away the mental wrapper, and taking in the 'heart energy' that is still buried inside – sort of 'plan B' if you will. I realize this may not be very clearly written – my apologies.

Does this sound like what you are talking about – or an aspect of it?

Hokai:
Is this what you are referring to when you wrote: “engaging in emotional work ... from an already awakened mind, is completely different and yet even more urgent and meaningful”? If not can you explain that statement more?

Thanks to all,
-Chuck
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
"Does this sound like what you are talking about – or an aspect of it?"

Yes, it does. It seems to be directly related to a larger sense if being in the world, a part of it all and not a separated, lonely thing. It's identifying not with my own mind's stuff but with everything that used to be "outside.". These meta-emotions (thanks, Hokai!) cannot be accessed reliably, if at all, until that "big" perspective is taken up. Maybe that also ties Hokai's comments about engaging in emotional work.

Hokai?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
Yes, this sounds quite reasonable. We can go about this "experientially", avoiding to talk theory, but this is tricky as we must have some sort of framework a priori. It's quite clear how emotions are treated in vipassana, aimed as it is at insight into the three characteristics. We find a somewhat different emphasis in mahayanic vipashyana, where development of certain meta-emotions, like compassion for instance, is considered as essential in early stages of insight to ensure a balanced wisdom in the long run. In addition, tantric traditions take an even more active and generous view of emotion and feeling in general, thus coming to some radical results.

Also, it's ridiculous to ignore emergent conceptual strategies in dealing with this complex issue, and in this sense I've found the recently made distinction between stages of wakefulness (as found in many mystical traditions, a la ) and structural/developmental stages (a la Piaget, Kohlberg, Erikson et al.) as independent dimensions to be quite useful. Basically, this distinction makes it clear that you can go through states-and-stages of wakefulness at virtually any level of structural development, e.g. prerational-rational-postrational, and vice-versa that development through structures, no matter how advanced, says nothing of anyone's wakefulness. When we realize that full-spectrum emotional maturity should be understood as development in BOTH of these dimensions, what we're discussing here becomes even more interesting.

Now "emotional work" can have very different meanings depending on chosen coordinates in this 3D grid (vehicle x developmental structure x universal stages of wakefulness). Do you find this useful?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
hmm. are the meta-motives you cite as examples the ones in particular you are bound to, and if so, why the allegiance to those?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
chuck,

funny you say, as the radio frequency thing is one of the ways of thinking about it that have occurred to me as well. but i've been hesitant to bring that model up, mostly i think cos i also suspect the notion of 'carrier wave'. i'm also not clear why, there's some kind of bias against the notion of a backdrop of any kind in there.. but still, even knowing that.. anyway.

some questions:
-how has seeing through (either dharma eye or wisdom eye or whatever else in between or after either) the illusion of self or centre reflected on the way you see the carrier wave, if at all?
-is the carrier wave something you perceive as being local to somewhere in your experience space, more/less involved with certain sensations than others, or does it seem to be an aspect of any sensation that happens ... or none of the above?
-does the carrier wave have anything to do with the entirety of experience itself?
-ever try to walk around just being aware of it all the time? how possible have you found it?

-and as a bit of background, what were the techniques you used to get stream entry and the later paths?
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RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
Hokai, your comments are very useful. It helps me to think in terms of of the dimensions you described, so thank for that. Wisdom in the Theravadan Buddhist sense mainly allows us the space to see our "stuff" for what it is. After obtaining that new persepctive that we can work more effectively with emotions from the perspective of the other dimensions like psychotherapy. They really are very different. Funny that many of us start our Buddhist practice thinking we're going to be able to find relief in all those dimensions thereby; calm our nerves, rid ourselves of neuroses, and so on, only to find out (if we stay with it) that we need to adopt a multi-dimensional approach.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
No, it's a platonic/western standard, but you could also say Wisdom/Insight (i.e. True), Compassion/Meditation (i.e. Beautiful), and Skillful Means/Ethics (i.e. Good) etc.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Basically, I stumbled upon it – or it stumbled upon me. Life has a habit of creating stressful situations for us – the tendency is to look for causes outside ourselves. For some reason, during one of these 'situations', I looked for the cause within. This led to what we call here 'seeing the 3 characteristics' and several months later stream entry. I was not familiar with Buddhism or awakening concepts in general. I had, for a couple of months prior to stream entry, started taking a class in meditative qi gong. I believe it was the qi gong that allowed the mind to calm down and go further.

I don't recommend the 'accidental path' – but that's my story. After 3rd path I met up with a 'knowledgeable' teacher – and that has helped a great deal. As my own experience took place largely outside of any teaching I tend to focus on an experiential approach – though I agree with Hokai that there needs to be a 'framework a priori' – as this provides some much needed structure. Though I came to Buddhism 'after the fact' so to speak – I have come to really appreciate this approach – and think it offers the most reliable method we have available to us.

(cont)
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
When I use the term 'carrier wave' I am referring to 'jhanic sensations' and the insight into how our experience is seemingly built up from or upon more elemental vibrations or whatever you want to call them. By cultivating the jhanas we gain some ability to step back and see how such seemingly concrete phenomena like thoughts, physical and emotional pain, etc. are 'manufactured' in a sense. Looking at the flip side – one can work their way 'down' to these more elemental qualities by carefully investigating the coarser experiences of pain, emotions, etc. at the level of moment to moment sensations - looking for subtler elements – this was the thrust of my earlier discussion.

So (in answer to Prisoner's questions): what I referred to as a 'carrier wave' is now experienced as just sensations that are present. It has a quality that I could say is elemental to my 'ego space' (what I used to define as 'me'). As far as what it has to do with the 'entirety of experience itself?': A good but sticky question. I don't know how to answer that because so much of it has to do with Hokai's terms such as meta-emotions, personal stream, etc. that make up the 'entirety of experience' and are (to me anyway) outside 'definability'.

“Ever try to walk around just being aware of it ['carrier wave'] all the time?”
Yes. As the path unfolds, this process becomes more automatic – and in a sense even necessary.

A very good talk on this topic in general from Thanissaro Bhikkhu (with cool cricket sounds) :
http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/060721%20The%20Energy%20in%20the%20Body.mp3
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
My argument was not that there "needs" to be an a priori framework, but instead that there always IS an a priori framework, often unacknowledged, even in the most extreme "experiential" approach. Some sort of interpretation and some sort of inclusive context is always there, so we better find ourselves a good one, one that has meaning and simultaneously allows our experience to deepen further.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 559 Join Date: 8/22/09 Recent Posts
Yes, I see what you mean. Thank you.

“When we realize that full-spectrum emotional maturity should be understood as development in BOTH [ stages of wakefulness, structural development] dimensions, what we're discussing here becomes even more interesting.”

Mind boggling brain twister? I am just thinking of the task of a teacher - working with 30 or so people coming from different traditions (or no tradition), levels of wakefulness, and levels of development – and putting them into a pressure cooker retreat situation....

“Now "emotional work" can have very different meanings depending on chosen coordinates in this 3D grid (vehicle x developmental structure x universal stages of wakefulness).”

I wish I understood more about what this means in actual practice- personal and inter-personal. I am familiar with Wilber's model (which seems a syntheses and extension of those you mention) so in his terms we are talking about 'lines and levels' here? It seems to me that insight – as it develops along the 'level' must also inform and have an effect on each 'line'? So, not to trivialize your grid:-) but could we say that it is also riddled with feedback loops? I am having some fun with this but seriously, there does seem to be feedback that would occur – always beneficial? I am not sure.
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 4 Join Date: 4/30/09 Recent Posts
I guess we should discuss this in a different thread, but no, insight will not necessarily affect each developmental line, because "insight" is a line of its own (though, again, of slightly different import in specific traditions). It will affect those lines that are implicit or necessary to it, like e.g. cognitive development. And also, it has a lot to do with intentionality that drives the practice (i.e. purpose), as well as potentially the shadow of that intentionality, should there be any.

As to a teacher, it's much more simple to deal with complexity when one can map two or three axes in a fine, inclusive model, instead of being forced to iron everything into a single sliding scale. Even the most primitive Buddhist path-model works with three quasi-independent, intentionally integrated zones: wisdom, ethics, meditation. On meditation retreat, one works with meditation.
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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 335 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
In other words, there is no silver bullet ;-)

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