pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 6 Years ago at 10/14/15 4:49 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/14/15 4:47 PM

pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
This is about emotional development on the mundane (pre-path) and transcendent (post path(s)) level. Just some musings on what it means to totally free the emotions and how to go about it. Nothing authoratitive.

What this is NOT...I see 2 extremes in models, both of which are inaccurate and potentially unhelpful:

** firstly -  the "limited emotions" model of enlightenment - anything like where 'negative' emotions will no longer be experienced; e.g. sadness/crying cannot occur. This is dangerous as it causes aversion/grasping/bypassing.

** secondly -  the "no ultimate purity possible" emotions models. Any kind of model stating that emotional perfection is impossible. This is also dangerous as it can act as a rigid belief which sets the bar too low for practice... it is creating a block which prevents the total cleaning up of the emotional system. IMHO pragamatic dharma scene/teachers often fall into this bias.

In this model we suggest:
1. what emotional perfection means
2. emotional perfection is possible
3. and the sort of way to go about attaining it

How is this different to the MCTB 4th path where are all emotions are experienced as non-dual?
The attainment Daniel describes as MCTB 4th path does not directly impact your psychological stuff, aka karmic patterning, regarding emotions. For example, if you have some blocks in your system which mean you cannot feel or express powerful joy. Or, you may have strange behaviour patterns around love where you seem to shut down. These have nothing to do with the MCTB 4th path attainment. However in this model which I am talking about, these blocks and fixed behaviours are cleared out.

I realise now that I have nothing new or interesting to say. However I keep writing due to trying to escape doing practice....!

====== 1. What does emotional perfection mean ? ======

Emotional perfection simply means that all the emotions are fully experienced, without prejudice and without conditioned responses. To show what this means I give some "wrong" examples.

Emotions not fully experienced: everyone has energetic blocks which prevent them feeling certain emotions at all, or to some degree. As an example, some men simply cannot accurately feel sadness. They do not know they are sad, or how sad they are, until they totally break down.

Conditioned reaction to emotions:this is more obvious. When emotions start to arise we enter an unconscious habitual behaviour pattern to avoid the physical sensation of the emotion. for example we tighten our neck and shoulders, shallow our breathing, and speak rapid nonsense to avoid feeling sensations of sadness in the solar plexus. If someone were to say stop - breathe deep - we would start feeling and crying. 

Post path explanation: once you know of yourself as awareness (or the field, or whatever you want to call it), this all becomes more obvious. Over time, due to past experiences (traumas) - your awareness has picked up weird habits of tying itself in knots, hiding in various ways, to avoid seeing certain uncomfortable truths, or feeling uncomfortable feelings. As you begin to function as the whole of awareness rather than as a fixed contraction in the head or heart, the searchlight of awareness begins to widen, and start to melt the emotional knots in the field of awareness.

Example: Joy
We might say that Happiness is the contracted dualistic form of Joy. In happiness, there is great joy in the body, but because we are unwilling to experience it, the attention gets stuck in loops relating to object of joy. This creates a contraction in awareness. This in turn changes the behaviour - the head and hands come forward, fixating, body tension is increased. An example is Golem in Lord of the Rings.

An opposite example of JOY is someone who has just had a very good sexual experience. They experience joy but there is total relaxation in the joy, no object to grasp to. This is why Joy really makes people cry, as we continually lose the object of joy in the continual surrender to the moment, as opposed to happiness which makes people rigid.

====== 2. Is perfection possible? what does total emotional purification of the heart look like? ======

It might seem like I am saying that the goal is experience things one way as opposed to another, or to always be relaxed. This is not it.
What we are talking about is the removal of all the habitual, karmic tendencies, to stifle or exaggerate emotions in various ways. These are caused by blockages, short-circuits in the embodied awareness (you could say in the body if you prefer). These blockages may or may not be related to postures or muscular tensions (e.g. doing weird things with your jaw to stop you crying).

As these blockages are removed, the response to emotions becomes more fluid and creative, rather than feeling like a one way track. As an example. People who have had depression often fear becoming depressed again. So if their sadness hits a certain threshold, they will have some belief system functioning, like "Oh no, I can't feel like this..." and they will be FORCED to try and avoid feeling any sadder somehow  - by shutting down, by doing something else. Basically, karmic conditioning works like you have been given an incorrect safety manual for your emotions (based on a different you), and you mistakenly follow it.

As the purification occurs, there is no rulebook, no safety manual, no specific way to treat your emotions.

So there is no longer any push-pull associated with the emotions, no matter how intense.

This means that your system will no longer bend out of truth to avoid feeling anything.

This also means you have totally cleaned the dirt of your emotional sensors so that your empathy is functioning unobscured 100% - you can accurately, deeply feel what others are feeling.

This means that every emotional experience you have is just on its own terms. There is no sense that emotions present any opportunity or danger. You are free to respond however you like to an emotional situation. It could be in a seemingly very enlightened way. Or it could be in a way that seems "reactive".

Technically we could say that the awareness remains open enough in emotional situations that existing karma is burned through, and that no new karma (behaviour patterning) is created.

Why is this the "heart?"
Specifically here I am talking about the emotions of the heart. These are things like sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, love, joy, disappointment, depression, angst, longing, yearning. At the moment, not talking about rage or sexual desire, or physical pain.

====== 3. the training and milestones to purify the heart emotional system ======

One way of thinking about it is that each emotion (there are lots) is like a note on the piano.
when another human piano note plays, yours will resonate.all the notes are beautiful! but due to karma, your piano has some keys which do not play, others which play too loud. some keys which you didn't even know existed! and some keys which you play too much, and other keys that you are afraid to touch.
your job is to fix up your piano so all the notes play properly. how?

1. the correct motivation
You must drop any ideas about feeling any better. This training simply cannot be undertaken if you are someone who is doing dharma practice for any hope of personal gain. In fact it's the opposite, you are wishing total dissolution, destruction onto yourself. So you must dedicate yourself to Truth (for no reason at all) or for "other beings".

2. devotion
the #1 heart practice. to do devotional practice. you pick an object and you deliberately fall in love with it as hard as you possibly can, over and over, as a practice. And you make a vow to never compromise this object, to never be at all selfish with it, to never try and own it, even though that is all you want.

you could pick:
* god/the universe - ok, very little chance of screwing up
* religious figure/guru - more powerful, possible to screw up
* human romantic partner - most fast/powerful, most easy to fuck up

most of us are conditioned to avoid heartbreak/rejection. from when we are babies, we learn to hold our love back in case we get rejected (which we do).
So the practice of devotion at its simplest is you love and get heartbroken. You get heartbroken because you don't allow anything to hold or settle. Say you are in a romantic relationship, everytime you see yourself moving out of a desire to own the person, you stop and let it go. It can be as big a thing as not wanting your partner to have sex with other people to prevent your sexual jealousy, or as little a thing as noticing a slight anxiety present everytime you kiss them goodbye, as you're looking for a certain affirmation in the kiss. You stop all this shit, and probably you cry a lot. But you keep loving. You love and get heartbroken again and again, more and more painfully each time, until you finally stop manipulating your love. You love and want and want so bad that it hurts, it hurts more than you can imagine. But there is nothing left in you which tries to grasp or manipulate or strategise, or hold, or bargain, or emotionally blackmail, or go numb, or hold love back.

A key point - I met a lot of people thinking that they are looking to generate a boundless love which wants nothing back. 

deep inside my heart, I've got this ever lasting light
it's shining, like the sun, it radiates on everyone
and the more that I give, the more I have to give
it's the way that I live, it's what I'm living for
(a nice rainbow song)

This sounds nice but it's not accurate. The love we are talking about here is an insane desire for the object. This love wants wants wants the attention of our object. In Tibetan Buddhist prayers they say "Lama Khyenno" a lot - translated as "guru - think of me" this always used to puzzle me, why do we care if the teacher thinks of us? When you are romantically besotted with someone, all you want is for them to also think of you, if they so much as look at you, you burst into a zillion pieces of rapture.
The danger in talking about a love which wants nothing back, is that this is a contraction which denies your desire (as a safety measure). The love we are talking about painfully wants everything, but will not compromise truth or integrity for it.

Practically, what this means is that you simply lose the ability to be selfish with the heart. Your heart has broken so many times it has nothing to lose, nothing to fear. And you know that infinite joy and rapture are as easy to attain as having a thought of your object of love. So you don't need to strategise to get love/joy. Then all the matters of the heart flows easily like water, you can be super-sad, and it's beautiful, then someone comes in and you instantly are joyful to see them.

“Don’t surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonightHas made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender,
My need of God

3. meditation

3a. embodied practiceenergy practice, vipassana, the metta bhavana. 

3b. In the vajrayana, they train in experiencing strong emotions in the natural state.E.g. generate a strong emotion (hate, desire, etc) and then look directly into the feeling, experience the non-dual, spacious nature of it. Burn through the conditioning.These meditations work much better for those who are post-path.I think these are helpful. Can say more if people need.

4. life training (the most important)

To totally purify the heart, practice and life must be totally integrated.

There cannot be any sense that there is practice over here, doing something, and my life, doing something else.

This very sense of non-integration is itself the resistance, the heart trying to keep itself protected, something making excuses.

Put it this way. Your life is as it is, because your emotional capability is a certain level. The people close to you have a certain level of emotional rigidity, matched to yours.

What will happen is that your thirst for truth will start to bring more emotional intensity to you. This is because you need to know if you can handle it all, because you need to know that you aren't hiding from any of it. So you will start seeking more emotionally challenging situations. This will almost certainly involve the change of relationships, lifestyle, or very long retreat periods. This is because you will need to know if you are compromising yourself (traditionally: have attachments) in any aspects of your life. Once this is all cleared up, then maybe your life will return to the same pattern as it was before, but this time in clear conscious choosing. Your can re-choose your attachments to amuse yourself, or suit cosmic purpose.

the end
I don't expect this is at all clear and apologies for the editing and grammar, but I got bored halfway through but then couldn't stop. I just wish everyone aims high and practices well and achieves great ease and fluidity, the beautiful naturalness of the fullness of the human being. Peace and love.
Chris M, modified 6 Years ago at 10/14/15 7:32 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/14/15 7:31 PM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 33 Join Date: 1/8/13 Recent Posts
This is an excellent post Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii. Thank you for taking the time, it’s much appreciated.

I’ve arrived at some of these insights more recently, so this is really valuable information for me at the moment to help clarify and confirm a way ‘forward’.
Pål, modified 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 3:19 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 3:19 AM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 778 Join Date: 9/30/14 Recent Posts
In an earlier thread you said you're into the ten fetter model. How does all pf this relate to that model and what does it mean to transcend a fetter? Also, a sutta that cane to my mind wgen reading this is the Sallatha Sutta. Cpuld you please comment on it? I feels like it's very much related to this.
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 12:06 PM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 12:06 PM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
In an earlier thread you said you're into the ten fetter model. How does all pf this relate to that model and what does it mean to transcend a fetter? Also, a sutta that cane to my mind wgen reading this is the Sallatha Sutta. Cpuld you please comment on it? I feels like it's very much related to this.

not much to say on the sutta, other than nice, never read the original "arrow" sutta before! for me the key takeout is that resistance/obsession are the same thing. When we have a problem with one, actaully we are having a problem with the other one which we don't notice we are trying to use to fix the first problem. Everything appears to us as "like" or "don't like" and only seeing the nothing that we are refusing to do, solves the problem.

how this relates to the 10 fetter model.

a note - I have never studied theravada to a high degree with an unfettered teacher. So all this is pure armchair stuff. Probably you are best off ignoring it and seeking a qualified person! but such is life!!!

10 Fetters - pre path

At this point we are working on metta, morality in the mundane sense. The aim is to get it so that you are not worried about your own emotional states, or trying to fix your life, and you can practice for the sake of truth, other beings.

10 Fetters Stream entry - Identity view (along with doubts / rites and rituals)

First, we must break identity view at the level of thoughts and concepts. Otherwise we cannot ever free the knots of emotions fully - it will always be 'someone' manipulating the field slightly.

At this point non-duality is available. So it is clear that in "I want ice-cream", "I feel hate" - both the "I" and the "objects" and the emotions are empty, impersonal, just happening by themselves, part of the transient field.

We can let emotions, opinions, play out, in expansive, non-dual awareness, and the momentum of them will naturally diminish.

We have to understand that all concepts are empty (including the "I"). Otherwise our thoughts will keep re-tying the knots.
e.g. "I am doing well with my practice in non-lust - I didn't even check out that sexy person" or even a subtle sense of me-doing about any of the practice. these are both themselves the same fixation of lust.

(This is why any kind of non non-dual therapy is limited, even if it's embodied)

10 fetters 2nd/3rd path - the lessening, then elimination of ill-will and sense desire.

When I say the pragmatic purification of the heart I am talking about the purification of the "stuff" surrounding emotions. By emotions, I mean things like love, desire, longing, misery of all kinds, hatred. Essentially they revolve around sorry, joy and anger.

These are all a bunch of sensations, and basically, there are pretty much limits to how intense they can be, or at least, you can know their game. After you have been heartbroken badly, on purpose, and "enjoyed" it, if someone was to say how about heartbreak 10x, 100x the intensity - you would be like, fuck yeah, its just an emotion, why not? 

After you practice being with the height of sexual desire for someone you love deeply and find incredibly attractive, and the pain of losing them, so that this desire/loss is held in comfortable spaciousness, how much more extreme can sense-desire get as a human?

It's like big wave riding. Once you have ridden a 20m wave, what difference does a 100m wave make? So you can train to totally not have any fear of joy, sorry, anger.

When there is no more attachment/obsession/rejection of these, then sense-desire and ill-will are done.

For example, sense-desire. You know your limits with how much desire you can hold, and you're not afraid of any feelings of loss. So in a situation with a strong object of desire, you stay 100% in truth. Your system wants, longs, yearns, but it never threatens to overwhelm you, or to self-blackmail you into acting out of truth.

At this point, emotions are not creating any more karma. It seems to be the natural progression that the actual sensations of emotions and desires will manifest out less and less, as the awareness simply stops moving to acknowledge them so much. Don't know.

(An aside on fantasy... as you clear out your psychological stuff around sexual repression and desire repression, then fantasy does not have a lot of power. Basically all fantasy gets its erotic juice from the duality of repression/obsession. A sense that we can't do certain things, or we must do certain things, coming from past conditioning (trauma), or ideas about what is acceptable. Once these ideas are worked through, then fantasies lose their charge, and it becomes a conscious boring effort to create a fantasy rather than something compulsively enticing. )

10 fetters 4th path

(to be clear - at this point I have literally no idea what I am talking about. I don't claim to be anywhere near here.)

The key thing here which is different is that now we are talking about being comfy with total non-existence: no desire to be re-born in form/formless realms. no restlessness, which to me means total comfort with zero, forever. subtle conceit (I-conceit, object-conceit, existence-conceit of any kind)

Before, in 10Ft 2/3rd path, we were just talking about not bowing to our fear/obsession of extreme emotions. This is now a different ball game.

My guess is two-fold:

1. we now have to have total mastery of any kind of sensation set. so now this includes the energy system - the total peak or fear, total deah to the energy field. we must open the energy-sensation system to it's limit and be ok with that. I believe this is the fruition of the tantric path. I think Omega Point wrote well on this subject. (search his past posts).

2. non-existence - the system learns to rest in non-manifestation (nothing is happening, not even slight mental movements) until nothing is TOTALLY fine. Something, anything, any mental movement/activity becomes effort rather than compulsively enjoyed.
Pål, modified 6 Years ago at 10/17/15 5:19 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/17/15 5:19 AM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 778 Join Date: 9/30/14 Recent Posts
Thanks, makes sense. So a 10 fetter Arahant can probably feel any emotion strongly, it's kust not a fetter since it there is no need to act on it or hold it back to fix anything. 
One thing I still don't get though is why some motivations to attain awakening would be better than others. A sutta telling us that why you want to get enlightened doesn't matter as long as you practice:
tom moylan, modified 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 5:31 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/16/15 5:31 AM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
dear SBA,
fabulous post.  i have been personally exploring the nature of emotions lately and your clear breakdown mirrors my more cloudy ruminations.

the fact is that emotions are complex, conditioned phenomena and seeing through them to their roots is the work of many traditions, modern and ancient.  the obscure connection between the physical and mental phenomena is a really difficult nut to crack without deep penetration into the nature of reality.  that so much energy and treasure is put into the psycology / therapy industry as well as self-help and "spiritual" methodologies to solve these mysteries is indicative of the omnipresent acknowlegement of their importance.

thanks for the solid insights.  keep em coming.
Daniel - san, modified 6 Years ago at 10/17/15 8:50 AM
Created 6 Years ago at 10/17/15 8:49 AM

RE: pragmatic purification of the heart (freeing the emotions)

Posts: 308 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Incredible post thank you
your insights generally align with mine, but I intuit yours may be deeper
I especially liked your delineating between purification of the heart centered emotions, like sadness or grief, versus purification of the gut centered emotions, like rage and arrogance
I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas you have on purifying the lower reptillian emotional centers. 
Does this happen after heart purification, concurrently, or is there no rhyme or reason?
I've experienced heart and body emotional purification on long retreat more than once, where it took a willful act to generate any negativity, and it was difficult to maintain – like the light within was so bright that it was just burning up darker emotions before they could establish themselves. All of this has been experienced as sensation/energy for me, and generally only after a few days of immersion in stillness on retreat 
Anyway, best explanation of emotional models that I've seen, I assumed that we were all doing the same thing either as a goal, or a side effect, in Vipassana practice (purifying the mind-body system), but I don't get that angle at all from MCTB, or from many practitioners here. They are on about no self and the illusion of reality, and I don't get a lot of juice from them - like where is the love man? 
These practices continually point back to the Brahma Viharas for me. Joy, equanimity, love and compassion are qualities of that benevolent undercurrent that stays when all the knots loosen themselves
and everything everywhere without exception is just quite alright