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Thoughts vs Emotions

Most of us blame discursive thinking for our problems.

But are thoughts the problem, or emotion?

Thoughts by themselves do not seem to cause any trouble. But when emotions are thrown in, the mind starts to bother us.

So, disregarding emotion ... is that the solution?

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited September 13

    I was going to cite the Anapanasati Sutra, which gives stages of meditation for calming feelings before examining mental formations ("thoughts"), but I like @Federica's answer better.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anapanasati

    Although actually I would make a distinction between beneficial or neutral feelings such as loving kindness and negative ones such as jealousy. Certainly the negative feelings drive many problems in human society, and they are worth examining in detail because they often lead back to the main ones of desire, aversion and ignorance.

    Understanding negative emotions better weakens their power, but keeping good emotions is important to not having a completely flat emotional landscape.

    lobstersilverfedericaSnakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @techie said:
    Most of us blame discursive thinking for our problems.

    But are thoughts the problem, or emotion?

    Thoughts by themselves do not seem to cause any trouble. But when emotions are >thrown in, the mind starts to bother us.
    So, disregarding emotion ... is that the solution?

    From what I gather, a thought is energy (movement confined to the brain) and an emotion is energy in motion which are just "feelings" which in Pali is called Vedana (the 7th link in the chain of Dependant Origination)...

    Thus have I also heard/read...

    @Nagarjuna Said:
    ""Two deluded actions (Links 2 & 10 ) arise from Three deluded causes (Links 1,8,9).Seven uncontrolled results (Links 3,4,5,6,7,11,12) arise from those two deluded actions...Again Three deluded causes arise from these Seven results...Such a wheel of life goes round and round !""

    Gaining experiential insight into DO will go a long way in helping to break the links of the chain ie, unfetter the mind so to speak...

    "Whosoever sees Dependant Origination sees the Dharma
    Whosoever sees the Dharma sees Dependant Origination !"

    Emotions like Thought's company...and the aim is for emotion not to be so dependant upon thought... well something like that :)

    TravellerlobsterDavidSnakeskin
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran

    Thoughts and feelings it doesn't matter which. They are all just dukkha.

    Shoshinlobster
  • eleele Connecticut USA New

    Chogyam Trungpa considers them the same (thoughts and emotions)... so when I sit and a thought arises and I note that and label it "thinking" and go back to my breath, that works for me. I am doing the same w my emotions, as they arise, labeling them "thinking" and returning to esp. the outbreath. It's what I do and seems to help me.

    KeromeSnakeskin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    One who simply attempts to disregard emotions usually ends up in mental health trouble over time. Learning how to identify and process emotions is key. Understanding they don't have to have power over us. Emotional intelligence is highly important. Experiencing emotions is a vital part of being human and just like thoughts, they will continue to arise no matter what we do. But we can know how to react to them appropriately. Disregarding them results in "stuffing" them and they always find a way out eventually, the more you stuff them, the more inappropriately they eventually come out, or manifest in mental illness.

    TravellervinlynKannonSnakeskin
  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited September 14

    You might have a point there @karasti. I had a very rough childhood where if I displayed too much emotion it was met by violence, so i suppressed a lot of my feelings which probably contributed to my mental illness. Still all that amphetamine and weed I did probably didn't help. These days I try to rest in non judgmental awareness of what rises at the sense doors. It seems to work well for me.

    lobstersilverSnakeskin
  • paulysopaulyso usa Veteran

    what has helped is the buddhist proverb,learn to respond rather than react.we all def. deal with our brain...stimuli,thoughts,a-emotions--or the buddhist vernacular,feeling tones.the practice of aware--through recollection of right view--that the brain phenomenon content has an intermintent and imperminant state as federica suggest.which leads to travellers approach to be aware of the interaction of sense stimuli and brain response.so being aware may be how we respond. as kerome suggest,thoughts and emotions can be positive and negative.so the the buddhist proverbs helps respond to negative brain states rather react.honestly,sometimes when swept away with thoughts and feelings,i forget the proverb.but practice the dharma,the meditative component--right effort,right mindfullness,right concentration helps builds our dharma...which helps our brain fitness and health,imo.

    Shoshinlobster
  • I think I feel. I feel, I think. Therefore I am
    a yam.
    :p
    Descarded o:)

    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/drawntobudd.html

    dhammachickTraveller
  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran

    Thoughts by themselves do not seem to cause any trouble. But when emotions are thrown in, the mind starts to bother us.

    I would disagree. I have experienced intrusive thoughts which have no basis in my current personal reality. They intrude into the mind unprompted, extremely negative and violent. In these instances my thoughts are the basis of my emotion...arising from a psychological imbalance. I was taken to the ER once because of them.

    my mental illness is still there no matter what I do. It is difficult because many problems of thought and emotion are rooted in psychological/chemical issues outside of my control. I work hard and get marginal results that never add up

    I have been frustrated lately. It is hard to conflate practice with mental illness. I feel at times I am too mentally ill to follow the dharma. I know this isn't true, but it is what I feel nonetheless.

    I am going to look for Dharma pertaining to depression in particular. This might be a start

    https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Way-Through-Depression-Unhappiness/dp/1593851286

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Kannon

    This may be of help...

    "Mindful way Through Depression" Audiobook "Part 1"

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @karasti said: Disregarding them results in "stuffing" them and they always find a way out eventually, the more you stuff them, the more inappropriately they eventually come out, or manifest in mental illness.

    Yes, it's important to accept how we are feeling, but there is a lot in the suttas about appropriate and inappropriate attention, focussing on wholesome thoughts rather than unwholesome thoughts.
    Right Effort in a nutshell.

    paulysoKerome
  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran

    @Shoshin thank you so much. I will listen to this later tonight.

  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited September 17

    @lobster said:
    I think I feel. I feel, I think. Therefore I am
    a yam.
    :p
    Descarded o:)

    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/drawntobudd.html

    Uk, uk, uk....

    dhammachicksilverlobsterShoshin
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @SpinyNorman It's debateable whether Right Effort is all you need when mental illness is considered though. Ultimately things like mindful insight can lead you to the causes, but in the meantime you may need help from a therapist, medication... it depends on how deep the hole is that you've managed to stumble into.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited September 17

    @Kerome said:
    @SpinyNorman It's debateable whether Right Effort is all you need when mental illness is considered though. Ultimately things like mindful insight can lead you to the causes, but in the meantime you may need help from a therapist, medication... it depends on how deep the hole is that you've managed to stumble into.

    Sure, and I always advise people that Buddhist practice isn't a "cure" for significant mental health problems ( including the ones who have turned up at classes I have been supporting or running! ).

    Generally I've found that I need to be in a reasonably good state of mind to practice effectively. But I've also found that the principles of Right Effort can be helpful when I'm not in a good state of mind, it can be as simple as thinking about something positive for a while, instead of dwelling on something negative.

    lobster
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @Kannon said:

    ... I feel at times I am too mentally ill to follow the dharma. I know this isn't true, but it is what I feel nonetheless.

    I think sometimes it is true. To frame it cosmologically, the episodic nature of even chronic mental illness is a microcosm for samsara. Some episodes are like the plane of misery, too intense, overwhelming and all-consuming to follow the Dhamma. This principle is also said to be true of heavenly realms where pleasure is the culprit. This is why the human realm is considered the most auspicious for spiritual progress. It balances pleasure and pain, just enough pain to prompt us, only enough pleasure to make understanding and practice possible. In this way, even chronic mental illness can be a blessing during those auspicious times when it's not at its absolute worst.

    lobster
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    @SpinyNorman It's debateable whether Right Effort is all you need when mental illness is considered though. Ultimately things like mindful insight can lead you to the causes, but in the meantime you may need help from a therapist, medication... it depends on how deep the hole is that you've managed to stumble into.

    It's my firm belief that Buddhism only helps us transcend the mind, if anything. But solving problems of the mind ... there Buddhism falls flat. Medicine alone helps because these problems, though they manifest in the mind, are essentially neurological in nature.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    The solution is to do a lot of meditation practice and see them for what they really are.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited September 26

    @techie said:

    It's my firm belief that Buddhism only helps us transcend the mind, if anything. But solving problems of the mind ... there Buddhism falls flat. Medicine alone helps because these problems, though they manifest in the mind, are essentially neurological in nature.

    Um when thinking of meditation, I also think of Mind over Matter and "neuroplasticity" The wheeling and dealing of neuropathways ..... (Um or should that be willing and dealing :winky: )

    TravellerSnakeskinlobster
  • In Tibetan Buddhism, we work on "body, speech and mind".

    And "mind" is regarded as being both thoughts and emotions. The two are regarded as being the same.
    Techie (here) said that they belief that Buddhism only helps us transcend the mind.
    Yes .. the "mind" as in mind AND emotion. But it takes perhaps a few decades or more for real progress to start to become apparent.
    And modern cognitive-behavior psychology recognizes the importance of our self-statements and cognitive habits in changing our emotional reactions.

    Medicine for mental illness ... depends a lot on the illness. Schizophrenia does not seem to respond to cognitive-behavioral (nor meditative) treatments ... but rather to pharmaceutical regimens. But even with pharmaceutical treatment, the patient still benefits from cognitive-behavioral therapy for those issues not created by brain chemisty/function. Schizophrenics have a lot of problems that result from their illness, but are not caused by the illness itself.
    On the other hand, depression is better-treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy (and Buddhism is a slower, but more-global form of this). Research has found that anti-depressant medication is no more effective than placebos (sugar pills that the patient believes are anti-depressant medication).

    lobsterSnakeskin
  • SnakeskinSnakeskin Texas, USA Explorer

    @FoibleFull said:
    ... Schizophrenia does not seem to respond to cognitive-behavioral (nor meditative) treatments ... but rather to pharmaceutical regimens. But even with pharmaceutical treatment, the patient still benefits from cognitive-behavioral therapy for those issues not created by brain chemisty/function. Schizophrenics have a lot of problems that result from their illness, but are not caused by the illness itself.

    In addition to secondary, ripple effect type problems, a study found a mindfulness-based psychoeducation program helps even with positive symptoms of schizophrenia. In the study’s mindfulness-based group a “therapist led … patients to become more aware of and relate differently to their thoughts, feelings and sensations such as hallucinations and delusions, rather than identifying with them as accurate readouts on reality.” The study found the mindfulness-based approach produced “significantly greater improvements in psychiatric symptoms, psychosocial functioning, insight into illness/treatment and duration of readmissions … when compared with the [study’s] other two groups.” From this I’d say the use of therapeutic and pharmaceutical treatment of symptoms directly caused by the illness isn’t really an either-or proposition.

    TravellerlobsterDavid
  • @techie said:
    Thoughts by themselves do not seem to cause any trouble. But when emotions are thrown in, the mind starts to bother us.

    So, disregarding emotion ... is that the solution?

    Disregarding the mindlessness (untrained mind sense), the emotions (part of the mind in some Buddhist traditions) and bodhi body is not feasible, possible or part of the Middle Way.

    We are stuck with a duck dukkha, ignorance and Sam/Sara samsara. What to do? I rather liked @Shoshin post on neuroplasticity. Body flexibility comes from yoga (the Buddha as an ex-yogi and wrestler) probably knewed about body-plasticity (knewed is a new wordling). I rather like the wholistic mind-body wholism available in some quadrants ...

    Balance or the Middle Way and meditation (the jewel in the trigem) can help. Who guessed? Everyone I bet no doubt.

    Here is practice that combines mind, emotions and body. Prostrations.
    http://buddhaweekly.com/the-psychology-of-buddhist-prostrations-the-humble-bow-a-meaningful-method-to-connect-with-buddha-nature/
    We might call it a possible solvent ...

    OM MANI PEME HUM HRIH (speech rite)

    TravellerShoshinDavid
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @techie said:
    Most of us blame discursive thinking for our problems.
    But are thoughts the problem, or emotion?
    Thoughts by themselves do not seem to cause any trouble. But when emotions are >thrown in, the mind starts to bother us.
    So, disregarding emotion ... is that the solution?

    When Thoughts & Emotions gang up....This can and often does happen...

    Neurons fire up in the brain
    Not long before "one goes insane

    Emotions wait to be fed
    They gobble up what one's just read

    The eyes spot more words upon the screen
    A sense of self now very keen

    The feeding frenzy as just begun
    Where thought and emotion becomes one

    Opinions form and then are said
    Whilst more neurons explode within the head

    As finger tips now become the tongue
    And words like fist are often swung

    Daggers have replaced the eyes
    homing in on what they despise

    If only one could learn to bite ones tongue
    then perhaps one wouldn't get so highly strung

    Like emotion's puppet on a string
    the self succumbs to anything

    A little patience so they say
    would no doubt help save the day

    So from thoughts & emotions one must take a breather
    After all..... one knows for a fact that one really is neither

    Thoughts are just movement confined to the brain
    But when they connect with emotions… one 'could' go insane

    Um energy in motion …who would have thought:)

    A lot of thought & emotion has gone into this...so....when I read something that I might strongly disagree with I say to the self....

    silverKerome
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Did you write that, @Shoshin ? I like it a lot.

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Thanks @silver ...Yes...I'm as guilty as any emotionally charged self can be :)

    silver
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