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Emotional States

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Emotional States

Child's Awareness of Essential States

Although emotional states change, essential states are there from the beginning. The child is not aware of them, but as his capacities of perception and cognition develop he becomes capable of awareness of them. It is difficult to communicate how these essential aspects are independent of ego. One has to experience them to see the implication.

Emotional Freedom that Comes from an Open Heart

The energies of the chakras are the basic raw energies of emotional states. When a chakra is active, or “open,” we directly experience the basic subtle energies that go into the makeup of the various emotions, instead of the emotions themselves. That is why we experience emotional freedom when the heart opens: the energy frees us, for the moment, from the conflicting emotions that usually fill our hearts. The basic energy of the heart chakra is experienced as love, joy, and bliss. When it is seen, it is seen as colored lights in the heart, usually golden or green. The activation of the other chakras will have a similar sense of expansion, freedom, light, and so on but not necessarily love. In such openings there is generally a flooding of deep, intense emotions and feeling, usually experienced as a high-energy, dramatic happening. The person has the sense that it's a “big deal,” that he is having a spiritual experience or a mystical union. This is true, but it is also true that this is only a transitory stage. All the drama subsides after a while, and other processes, subtler and deeper, begin to take place.

Emotional Responses and Behavior are Determined by Self-Image

Not only one’s perception but of course one’s emotional responses and behavior as well are determined by the self-image a person is identifying with. For instance, to the same situation one individual might respond with fear, another with anger, another with apathy, with corresponding behaviors. Very often the behaviors are stylized and obviously automatic; in any case one never has a choice about emotional states that arise, whether they are appropriate or not. This automaticity of response is much greater than either normal subjective experience or modern psychological theory acknowledges. It is in the nature of mind to be in a constant state of reactivity; and here we do not simply mean what is implied in the usual sense of the word. We mean something more fundamental: that the individual is always reacting with certain very limited patterns of emotion and behavior which reflect the self-image he is identifying with, and that this self-image is itself a reaction, in two senses: first, that the specific self-image that is operating is automatically elicited by the situation, and second, that the self-image is itself a construction made up of reactions to past events from early childhood. This self-image is thus never a spontaneous response or a free choice, but is always a compulsive reaction.

Emotional States are Discharged Processes of Our Nervous Systems

The main difference between emotional states and Essence is that the former are discharged processes of our nervous systems, whereas the latter is definitely not. Emotional states are primarily physiological processes accompanied by some ideational content… Essence is independent of the nervous system, transcends physiological processes, and can, in fact, exist without the physical organism.

Emotional States May Contribute to the Development of Narcissism

Chronic difficult emotional states may contribute to the development of narcissism because such painful affects, some of which the parents may not be able to remedy at all, might make it difficult for the child to stay deeply in touch with himself. We cannot discuss this factor in any detail because we do not have much experience of it.

Essence Can be Confused with Affect

In terms of the language of some psychological schools, Essence can be confused with affect. This is because Essence has an affect, in the sense that it can feel soft, warm, gentle, smooth, hard, dense and so on. But it is not the affect…The qualities of Essence, then, can be called affects.

We Can Experience Emotional States in Any Part of the Body

We can actually know and contemplate in any part of the body. We can experience emotional states also in any part of the body. It is also known—in meditative or contemplative experiences—that inner seeing and hearing is not necessarily located in particular parts of the body. In other words, the functions of the soul that directly concern the physical dimension of experience tend to be localized in different and specific parts of the body, but inner events are not necessarily limited to this organization. Dimensions, structures, and functions of the soul are not differentiated and organized once and for all, remaining as structures that can exercise functions when needed. The differentiation and organization happens as need arises for a particular function or capacity. When the need passes away the organization dissolves, or merges into another one that becomes needed for the next experience or task. We experience this as a flexibility and changeability of our inner field of sensitivity. At times we are all heart, full and consumed with emotions and feelings, with very little presence of mind. At other times, we are mostly mind, lost in thoughts or imagination. At still other times, we are mostly will, deciding and choosing, with various degrees of presence of both mind and heart. Most of the time we are a combination of the three, with constantly shifting proportions and qualities of presence and functioning.

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