Emotions

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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

Emotions

Posts: 19 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: 19 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

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
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: 19 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

Posts: 5 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
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: 19 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
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

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: 19 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

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
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

Posts: 211 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
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: 19 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: 19 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

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

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
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: 19 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

Posts: 74 Join Date: 5/13/09 Recent Posts
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: 19 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

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
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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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

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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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

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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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 19 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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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 19 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?
Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

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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Wet Paint, modified 12 Years ago.

RE: Emotions

Posts: 19 Join Date: 7/7/09 Recent Posts
By that I assume Kornfeld means they misinterpret the term "empty?" Makes sense if so.