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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

    dhammachick
  • 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 New

    @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
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