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emotions

Discussion of Zen Buddhism-in-action, application in daily life.

Re: emotions

Postby cam101+ on Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:18 am

Emotions come from thoughts, especially fearful thoughts, many of which we may or may not be aware of. This is different from something like the fight or flight scenario when physical survival is threatened, but even those autonomic systems that help to keep us physically alive work the same way as our emotions by triggering parts of our brains to secrete different substances into our blood stream that affect how we function. That fight or flight syndrome will produce essentially the same hormones as the emotion anger, and we will act out pretty much the same way if we are unaware of what is going on. If a specific chemical is introduced into ourselves, then that can affect the emotional response even before thinking, which is how drugs work, whether they are taken for medicine or recreation. This is the basic science between pharmacology and mental health treatments.

From the moment we are born our conditioning starts, and we are told that we are a self that is separate from others. That notion, along w/ millions of other conditioning thoughts from society as well as our parents, TV, movies, school, work, etc create and reinforce the false self or ego. Emotions are triggered due to this conditioning. If I have a good, healthy sense of "self", then criticism will not bother me and the emotional response will be minor. If I have a poor and unhealthy sense of self, then the emotional response will be large. So the healthier we become the healthier our emotional life will be, and one of the best paths to this health is through basic Buddhist awareness meditation practice.

When we become aware of our suffering, especially our own role in that self created suffering, we begin to understand that we have control over our mind. An undisciplined mind creates all sorts of havoc for ourselves and others. At some point, hopefully, the meditation does what it's supposed to do and leads to an "aha" that we are not who we think we are, and in fact there is no "us". I don't think that this moment needs to be qualified into a classic definition of satori, enlightenment, etc, but like Suzuki says, it's apparent that when we are in a good meditative state and in the moment that itself is enlightenment. As has been said, there are no enlightened people, there is only enlightened activity. That "aha" moment, which may occur gradually over time or instantly, puts us in touch w/ whatever you wish to call it (the universe, god, etc), and we can then operate in a different realm from cause and effect.

So having emotions, especially strong, unruly ones, can create a drive to lesson or stop those emotions from running our lives once we become aware of our mind's part in their creation. As we become more aware through meditation we become more able to understand and work w/ the mind. Simply seeing this suffering in itself creates more suffering as we become more aware of it, which should lead us deeper into our practice to relieve that suffering. Most of what we would call our life's catastrophes are actually incredibly fortunate situations that can lead us to awakening, and then we no longer have to be at the mercy of our emotions. We will still experience emotions, we don't want to become like robots, but that awareness gives us insight.
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Re: emotions

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:40 pm

Emotions are not just fears, or echoes of discomforting experiences.

Joe Campbell (the mythologist and religionist) used to tell students embarking on an uncertain career or horizon, to "Follow your bliss".

Poet Mary Oliver writes in her poem, Wild Geese,

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
I'd say this is true, for Ch'an practitioners, and for others. Of course, this is not the same as giving ourselves specious license to take on a "free and easy" style, or life, but it's encouragement toward taking what is truly naturally nourishing and supporting.

The Buddha might emphasize the eight elements of the Eightfold Path, here (and he did).

--Joe
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