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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Emotions?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Emotions

All Emotions are Based on the Rejection of What Is Now

There is bound to be suffering. There’s no other way. But it’s possible to be free from suffering when there is no desire to be free from suffering. There is a possibility of freedom, but it will happen only when there is no desire for freedom. Ultimately we need to drop the desire for freedom. This doesn’t mean you can now go about eliminating your desires. What you can do is understand the movement of desire. If you look at yourself in your meditation you’ll see that your mind is moving around, your emotions are moving around. When you’re angry, what are you angry about? You’re angry because what’s happening is not what you want to happen. You don’t like what’s happening. Somebody does something you don’t like, or you experience something you don’t like. Ultimately, anger is based on rejection. When you’re sad, why are you sad? You are sad because you lost something, or because something is not happening the way you want it to happen, or something you want is not there. So sadness is based on rejection. All emotions are based on the rejection of what is now, and your thoughts are the same way. Complete freedom means no personality at all. Complete freedom means essence—no mind and no emotions.

Allowing Either Pain or Pleasure

There is a beauty to the human being who experiences his or her suffering without indulging, and getting lost in it. Truth sometimes leads to the elimination of suffering, but it can also lead to pain. Whichever results, if the student allows the perspective of love and appreciation for reality, for truth – aware that it brings joy or pain – a feeling of deep intimacy within will result. You could be intimate with yourself, which is satisfying and fulfilling regardless of whether the outcome of the problem results in pain or pleasure.

Approaching Experience in a Different Way

As you have experienced in opening to this teaching, strength and aliveness arise within anger; tenderness and gentleness are awakened through sadness, and so on. Being in a field of spiritual inquiry, you can open to new levels of experience with only a small amount of encouragement and guidance. Approaching your experience in a different way than usual—by suspending your ideas and beliefs—opens up new potentials. And through understanding what the emotional charge was about and staying with it, you can see how it deepens your experience and releases the energy that was held inside the emotions. Ideas, history, associations, and beliefs will all arise, but if we stay present and allow ourselves to continue to question and discriminate what is happening in the moment, then the content of what we are hurt by, feeling angry about, or disappointed in becomes clarified. Through understanding, we distill consciousness, in a sense, and are left with a purity, presence, energy. Sometimes we may recognize the loss of our connection to our nature, which can arise as a feeling of emptiness or of something lacking. In allowing this loss and the attendant feelings of grief and longing, we might discover and reconnect to the quality of Being that the emotion was cloaking, along with the liberated energetic dynamism of our aliveness.

Being is Not on the Emotional Level

On the ego level, we usually feel most personal when feeling deep emotions or being in emotional situations with others. This is in marked contrast to the personal element of Being. Being is not on the emotional level. Being is a much deeper and more profound level than emotions. Emotions are responses of the nervous system, very much linked with the organization of past object relations. Being personal on the Being level can mean some kind of sharing and communication, but not necessarily. One can be personal and completely alone. It is a way of being, a way of experiencing oneself and a way of living. One is personally involved in, is intimately in contact with whatever one is doing or experiencing. In fact, this expression “to be involved” used on the level of the personality of ego comes close to the quality of being personal on the Being level. To be personally involved means that we are more wholehearted about, more in contact with, more intimate with, whatever situation or activity we are in. It means we are more present in the activity. And when we are really present, we are present as the Personal Essence, for it is our personal Being.

Distortion of Our True Aliveness Becomes Emotional Energy

Distortion of our true aliveness becomes emotional energy. If you clarify that emotion and you feel the energy of it, it becomes an energetic propulsion that drives you deeper into the real. This is the tantric way—don’t express, don’t suppress, just be with it. We are saying neither yes nor no to it; we are simply interested in understanding our experience: What is it? What does it mean? We want to discern the meaning and penetrate to the very last detail. As we discern and understand, the unshackled energy allows the process to unfold and take new forms.

Emotions and Feelings are Reverberations of Love

Emotions and feelings are reverberations of love—often love gone wrong. If you're connected with the Beloved or getting nearer to the Beloved, the result is love and enjoyment. If that process is interrupted, you're separated, you feel cut off, you're distant. What emotions do you feel then? Hurt, sadness, longing. If someone does something to separate you, what do you feel? Angry, frustrated, hateful. What’s important to understand is that your feeling— whatever it is—is the result of whether your love is taking you toward the Beloved or not. You might not see that.

Love Unveiled, pg. 92

Emotions Point to Where Essence Has Been Lost

Essence is something more real and more substantial than emotions. Essence is something as a real as your blood. It is not a reaction. But emotions are necessary for us. We need to become aware of our emotions in order to understand and see our Essence; emotions are a guide and point to where Essence has been lost. Understanding emotions can help untangle the knots of the defenses which are attempts to avoid experiencing the holes, and which maintain our separation from Essence.

Essential Aspects are Sometimes Called "Real Feelings"

Most people wonder, if you don’t feel emotions what will you feel? The more you feel Essence, the less you feel emotions. You will still have sensations, and they will be deeper and stronger; but when you feel Essence, your emotions will not be deeper and stronger. An emotion is only a response of the nervous system. Essence is not a response of the nervous system. There is something there filling you. Part of you is present. Some people call the essential aspects "the real feelings." But what people usually call feelings or emotions are not Essence. Love, peace, value, strength and will are aspects of Essence. That is the kind of thing you experience. These are Essence. Instead of experiencing anger you experience strength, calm strength; instead of feeling superior or inferior, you experience value; you experience yourself as a rounded Presence that is full and powerful.

Expressing Emotions

It might take time for you to understand what the non-expression of automatic emotions entails, and that is fine. What is entailed in not indulging in your automatic emotions is being conscious all the time. We are not talking about suppressing the emotions; we’re talking about not expressing them. To express them discharges them, and that stops you from really understanding and going deeper. Expressing emotions stops the process of transformation, because a truly mature human being does not act on these emotions. This practice is most important; and doing it will teach us a lot.

Expressing Emotions Stops the Process of Transformation

All kinds of emotions can be automatic—for example, hopelessness or despair. Not acting on these feelings means that even though you might wake up in the morning feeling that your life is pointless and hopeless, you get out of bed and go to your job anyway. Not acting on automatic emotions means that if a friend comes by and you are feeling lonely and needy and you want a hug, you do not act on that desire—you just feel it, because you know that that desire is to fill an automatic and elementary need. It might take time for you to understand what the non-expression of automatic emotions entails, and that is fine. What is entailed in not indulging in your automatic emotions is being conscious all the time. We are not talking about suppressing the emotions, we’re talking about not expressing them. To express them discharges them, and that stops you from really understanding and going deeper. Expressing emotions stops the process of transformation, because a truly mature human being does not act on these emotions. This practice is most important; doing it will teach us a lot. It might be hard to understand what it involves, but you need to persist anyway. If you want to grow up to be who you truly are, you have to learn to do these things. Indulgence will not help you. Indulgence just feeds the elementary needs and values, and perpetuates them.

Importance of Emotional Freedom

Emotional freedom and maturity are important for self-realization; disconnection from emotions will cause narcissistic disturbance even for those with a degree of self-realization. We sometimes encounter this situation in our work, when a student has done a great deal of spiritual practice but no work on the emotions. Since spiritual work exposes and intensifies both pathological and fundamental narcissistic issues, these issues generally distort or limit the person’s self-realization unless they are worked through. Without psychological understanding they are not easy to deal with. Emotional freedom and maturity is achieved through the transformation of oedipal narcissism (see Chapter 4). The disturbances related to this form of narcissism include immaturity or distortion of feelings. However, the self that appears as the resolution of oedipal narcissism is an essential presence, which forms the core and underlying ground of the emotional dimension. Thus, we see that defining the real self as the emotional dimension of experience excludes the deeper element that can truly resolve narcissistic issues.

Mental Anguish is Based on the Notions of Time and Causality

Mental anguish, along with the thinking process that produces emotions, is based on the notions of time and causality. You cannot make yourself suffer unless you think in terms of causality and time. When you suffer, usually you’re saying, “Now I’m angry because someone did this to me. Now I’m hurt because such-and-such happened. Now I’m scared because someone did that to me.” If you simply eliminate the thought of time and causality, suffering ends. You could be aware of what’s right at that moment, know that whatever you’re thinking at that moment is actually just happening in that moment. What you feel has nothing to do with what happened yesterday. Just be aware of yourself this very second. Just realize that you are instantaneously emerging. Break the temporal continuity of sensation. Realize instantaneously, right at this very second, that you are emerging. You are absolutely instantaneous emergence. You are not a continuity in time.

Tension Patterns in the Body Keep Emotions Unconscious

A major necessary part of awareness training is the sensitization of the body. The tendency toward insensitivity needed to support unconsciousness has to be reversed. Repression and the defenses of the ego are not just mental attitudes. They are, more than anything else, tensions and tension patterns in the body. These physical blocks and tensions are what keep emotions and ideas unconscious. This point was emphasized by Wilhelm Reich in his formulation of the concept of character armor and muscular armor. His main insight was that the defensive functions of the character are identical with muscular rigidities in the body:

The Emotional Self Acts Mostly According to Unconscious Motivations

A certain action that is usually considered spiritual or essential is that of service. Many systems and teachings focus on service, as both the method and aim of their inner work. Service is seen as freeing because it is considered unselfish or selfless, for the self-centered attitude is taken to be the main barrier against inner development. This again is very tricky, because if a person doesn't know essence, it is impossible to tell whether his action is selfish or selfless. This is because the emotional self acts mostly according to unconscious motivations. A person might think he is serving another, or humanity, or God, but very often he is serving an idea or ideal that is mainly determined by unconscious selfish concerns. A common example is the person who is always trying to be good, supposedly to serve God, but unconsciously he is trying to propitiate his superego, which he projects on his idea of God.

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