In this three-part series, Kaiyum clarifies widespread confusion about the difference between feelings and emotions.
Part 1: Providing the essential answer about the part played by the Mind.
Everyone has feelings and emotions. It’s just that some people experience them more than others.
Everyone has a heart that still remembers, that still knows what the ‘original state of Being’ is.
Everyone has a Mind, that conglomeration of all thinking and thoughts, cultural rules and social programming, from language to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable within a family unit, the family at large, the social class, workplace and many more such conditions (which is why the Mind is the seat of all conditioning).
For the sake of clarity, let’s proceed with some straightforward basics.
Prime feeling: Love
Think for a moment about the magnificent Being of a baby. Not those moments when the baby communicates his discomfort (hunger, need to be hugged) by the only means it has – crying. No, the bright face, clear eyes and spontaneous, varied sounds of its laughter: the pure evidence of carefree joy, trust and bliss-in-the-moment. This is the natural state of Man which – alas – is soon pushed into the background by social programming (conditioning).
This natural state is regained by those who become enlightened, thereby freeing themselves of any form of conditioning. In other words, they have freed themselves from the limitations imposed by the Mind.
Deep meditation and therapeutic structures such as the Zen Enlightenment Intensive make it possible to get a taste of this state of enlightenment and to sense the ‘natural state of Being’.
… is the home of the ego, of logic and our dreams and our ability to learn. What we above all learn is how to deal with the grown-ups we come in contact with; we learn what we must do in order to please them so that they will care for us as helpless babies.
The Mind is the home of the sum total of our thoughts, memories, behaviour patterns and all the games inherent to conditioning, including basics such as language and the social rules which apply in our family, social group and local as well as national culture. And as Osho reminds us, we need the Mind in order to function in society. But he also reminds us that ‘the Mind is a marvellous servant, but an ugly master’.
Remember, when for the first time something happens that is beyond words, Life has happened to you.
… has its own, wordless language called ‘feeling’. This is a different level of experience than the primary experience of bliss. Now it concerns happiness, sadness, disappointment, anger, hate, jealousy, frustration and desire.When these feelings are bottled up inside, they remain unprocessed in the physical body, contained in the structure of joints, muscles and fascia. After all, feelings are chemical messages such as hormones and peptides that can flood the body and take time to subside – leaving tangible internal blockages and scars until adequately released by expression.
… are feelings that have free rein, that are physically expressed: sadness becomes tears, anger translates into strong language and violent action, joy expresses itself as laughter, dance and playfulness.Young children are (in general) perfect examples; they express their feelings with considerable clarity, they are emotional… until the conditioning kicks in and they discover that it’s safer to close off, even shut down. A child quickly learns to control himself when it receives such strict instructions as “Behave yourself!” and “Grow up!”After all, his survival is at stake. But the chemical markers remain in the body and wreak havoc in the form of sickness (‘dis-ease’ = lack of ease and balance), reduced flexibility and mobility, tiredness and generally lower vitality and immunity.
To make it clearer, the word ‘emotion’ derives from Latin: e = out of/from + movere = to move.
The Task of the Mind
Feelings such as sadness, anger, jealousy, frustration and desire don’t ‘just’ happen. The Mind always plays a crucial part, independently of how old you are. Such feelings (sadness, anger, jealousy and so on) are the result of a comparison: reality differs from the internal idea and/or picture. And that idea or picture arises in the Mind, consciously or unconsciously.
Consciously: “I was looking forward to a wonderful bike ride on Saturday, but the weather turned out so nasty that I dropped the plan. After a week in the office, you can imagine I felt disappointed.”
Unconsciously: A man thinks that all is well in the relationship, but comes home one day to find that his wife has left him.
In the vast majority of cases, it is unconscious comparison that initiates the feelings. It is noteworthy that a significant part of becoming more aware involves freeing oneself from automatic, unconscious thinking and patterns.
- Jealousy (man): she’s my wife, she has no right to behave like that with another man.
Jealousy (woman): he’s my husband, he should spend time with me, not with another woman.
- Sadness (after a loss): I miss him/her/it…
- Disappointment: I expected to be accepted for the post, but got rejected.
For the sake of simplicity and clarity, let’s reword these three examples:
- The partner has a picture or idea of how the situation should be… and the reality is different.
- You are saddened by the absence of that person or thing in your life; you hold onto a picture or idea that no longer resembles reality.
- You are holding onto a picture of how the situation should have been according to you, and continue to have difficulty accepting the reality of the moment.
The third situation is a perfect example of a very normal human weakness – in fact, lack of vision: we think that the current reality is some sort of disaster. The chance is that if we were to look back after 5 or 10 years, we would then discover what a genuine gift it (in this case, the rejection) was.
Life is not about what happens to you, but about what you do with what happens to you.
Only the primary feeling of bliss is the one true feeling. The other feelings – for lack of a better word – exist as a function of the Mind and its ability to imagine and create mental pictures which conflict with reality.
Bliss and Love
As long ago as 450 BCE Hippocrates stated that all emotions have their source in the brain. What later became clear is that only love – the quintessential state of Being, the primary feeling – is an expression of the heart, in all its purity and simplicity. The other feelings and emotions are all linked to how the Mind works.
Stay tuned and read more in Part 2 about the three ‘false’ feelings that are the source of considerable anguish in the unaware individual.
Kaiyum is a regular contributor to Osho News
All articles by this author published on Osho News
All articles of this series can be found in this section Feelings/Emotions