Emotion and Reason

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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:47 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:When I put on socks or feed myself, I do rely on reason, logic, emotion, and the illusory experience of a "self".
Not so much when I take my socks off, however.


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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:00 am

seeker242 wrote:If all emotions are suffering then how can metta, karuna, and mudita be "divine abodes"?

"all emotions are suffering" means that they are the essence of dukkha.

I heard it expressed this way:
suppose you are at the airport and the person you love and have not seen for such a long time is getting off the plane,
and you are so happy that when they come through the gate you just hug and cry with joy, and it is the very best thing you have ever felt, just being back together again, and you hug and hug and hug. You just don't want to let go.

Okay, logically, if all that hugging is so wonderful, then you should never want to stop hugging. Just to stand there forever at the baggage claim, hugging until you both die. But of course, that isn't what happens. Instead, you are done with hugging, and to keep hugging would become very uncomfortable after awhile.

So, this is dukkha. All emotions occur as dukkha when we cling to them.

Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (sympathetic joy) and Upekkha (equanimity) are divine abodes when practiced selflessly and because they can be manifestations of selflessness. One can practice these and never get tired of them if one practices selflessly, because if no self is involved, who is it that will get tired of it? These are emotions or feelings that are given away, without clinging to them. No clinging, no suffering.

And the point is that it isn't emotions that cause suffering or that are suffering, but rather it is the attachment to emotions which is suffering, because the essence of attachment and thus of suffering is the clinging to "self".

So, the point isn't that because we feel emotions we suffer. It's because we cling to those emotions, to those feelings, try to hold onto them (or push them away if they are negative), that is dukkha, suffering.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Shii » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:18 am

Hello Huseng, I can see that there is some confusion about this topic. I would like to make an attempt to explain this in a way that someone with a brilliant mind such as yourself may understand. You are incredibly bright Huseng. So I am optimistic that you will understand what it is I have to say.

It is true that passionate emotions do not make reliable guides in a spiritual sense. It is true also that passionate emotions can create and compound karma. So, generally, in the majority of cases, they are not good for decision making. This is where we agree and where you are right in your reasoning thus far. The key to understanding this (this thing that you have been working on in regard to emotion) is here: the idea that passionate emotions need to be remedied and that reason and logic is that remedy.

Take a moment as you read this to think about that. Take as long as you need. Sit with it, feel it, turn it over in your mind. Then take a deep breath and let it out as you sit and allow yourself to stop actively thinking and reach for that still center within yourself.

Now, you are saying that reason (your mind) is superior to what you feel in your gut (what you feel at the still center of yourself). Reason is a product of the human mind, and while it is an extraordinary tool and endlessly useful, it is not a reliable spiritual guide either. Buddhism is about walking a middle path. If you let your emotions control you they will cause damage to yourself or others. This is very clear. However being ruled completely by the product of the human mind called reason, is another extreme and just as damaging no matter how wise a person believes themselves to be, or how well informed they are. Reason and passionate emotions are not good spiritual guides.

Again I would ask that you take a moment to sit with the above before reading on. re-center yourself and find that deep still place within you once again. Take your time. There is no need to rush.

Compassion is an emotional response. It is natural in every human being. It is a powerfully deep emotion of love for another living being and is most often brought out by another's suffering. The Bodhisattva understands that emotion and feeling it will never go away, and, one can not make it go away. The Bodhisattva also understands through reason and logic that one can not let one's emotions run wild. However, the Bodhisattva also understands that through deep stillness within one's self lies The Path (in your gut). The mind and human emotions will take one off center. This is why we train. This is why The Bodhisattva would want to and need to feel those powerful disruptive states. To learn to stay on center. To learn deeper compassion for all living beings. This is why we are ever going on ever becoming the Buddha.

So in answer to your question on how we treat emotions. I would have to say we sit with them. ;)
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:15 am

Hmm no, i'm not going by western psychology at all. Maybe "repression" is used there, but i'm more thinking of the teachings of people like Trungpa Rinpoche..and plenty of others less controversial saying much the same thing. You didn't answer the question though I don't think, how does one discern between a kind of forceful abstinence with emotions from aversion? I assume no one wants aversion, right? I've read similar from people as mainstream as TNH, What Mahayanists argue for "abstinence from emotion" - what Mahayanists even argue that's possible? It seems much more reasonable (and pretty common near as I can tell in all vehicles) to suggest that deep examination leads to the end of grasping at emotions, rather than some idea that you can be abstinent with emotions - that is not really possible in samsara it seems.

Perhaps if you tried curtailing your harmful thoughts and feelings it might hurt at first,


And what, in your view is the correct method in Buddhism for "curtailing" harmful thoughts and emotions? I have yet to read of a method in Buddhism that involves anything other than seeing their reality through examination of some sort, obviously in order to examine them you have them. Which to me does not quite track with what you are saying.

Surely just trying to not have emotions, or trying to ignore them is an utter waste of time, so i'm curious what your solution is.

Honestly it mostly just sounds like Stoicism to me, not bad, but it seems to diverge from the normal Dharma teachings on emotions, from my perspective at least.

eanwhile from the Buddhist perspective you're just applying the medicine and it stings for a bit. If you carry through with it then the course of medicine will finish and you'll be better off. In traditional Buddhist thought, abstinence is praiseworthy and encouraged


I grant that you have experiences and exposure that I don't, but I don't think that "abstinence from emotions" is a thing in much Buddhist thought. In addition, outer abstinence from emotion often covers up a lack of it underneath, you have to distinguish between volitional actions that might be related to emotion there and the emotions themselves. I have not been exposed to many teachings of any vehicle that recommend abstaining from emotion (since that's basically impossible), rather than abstaining from behavior - which of course is ubiquitous.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:46 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote: What Mahayanists argue for "abstinence from emotion" - what Mahayanists even argue that's possible?


The Brahma Net Sūtra states the following as major precept nine:

    A disciple of the Buddha shall not harbor anger or encourage others to be angry. He should not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of anger.

    As a disciple of the Buddha, he ought to be compassionate and filial, helping all sentient beings develop the good roots of non-contention. If instead, he insults and abuses sentient beings, or even transformation beings [such as deities and spirits], with harsh words, hitting them with his fists or feet, or attacking them with a knife or club -- or harbors grudges even when the victim confesses his mistakes and humbly seeks forgiveness in a soft, conciliatory voice -- the disciple commits a Parajika offense


There are confession practices which are done to remedy such transgressions, too.




It seems much more reasonable (and pretty common near as I can tell in all vehicles) to suggest that deep examination leads to the end of grasping at emotions, rather than some idea that you can be abstinent with emotions - that is not really possible in samsara it seems.


We need to understand the conditions from which kleśa-s arise. According to the Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya they arise based on the following three factors:

I. Causal power (previously existent afflictions).
II. Object power (the apprehension of objects).
III. Application power (mental orientation towards the object).

If the third condition isn't present, then the affliction(s) will not arise. What this means if that with proper mental orientation away from objects of desire or aversion the subsequent emotions cannot arise. An example of this is how we might feel love when perceiving our mother, but not a stranger. This is due to the orientation towards a certain object (in this case one's mother).

Incidentally, as I understand it, if you view things as non-arisen and empty, then the second condition would likewise not be active, and consequently affliction(s) could not arise. This is why contemplation of emptiness subdues and eventually eliminates afflictions. If you do not perceive objects as reified entities, then there cannot be grasping at signs (nimitta-grāha) and so no new afflictions can arise. This related to how in proper sustained meditative focus or concentration you don't experience afflictions arising. The power of that focus is contrary to afflictions arising.

So, yes, you can actively abstain from the creation of emotion, though it takes a certain degree of mental stamina and development.


And what, in your view is the correct method in Buddhism for "curtailing" harmful thoughts and emotions?


See above.


Honestly it mostly just sounds like Stoicism to me, not bad, but it seems to diverge from the normal Dharma teachings on emotions, from my perspective at least.


More like Abhidharma.




I grant that you have experiences and exposure that I don't, but I don't think that "abstinence from emotions" is a thing in much Buddhist thought.


If we accept that emotions either are afflictions (like anger) or heavily conditioned and quite related to afflictions (like envy and pride), then the whole Buddhist project includes an active process of detoxification from emotions and their harmful effects.

There comes a point when you recognize that passions, desire and anger manipulate your thought patterns and decision making to the point that you really recognize your lack of mental autonomy.

If you want to be free from such harmful internal influences, then you need to confront and eliminate harmful emotions rather than embrace them.

Emotions are quite natural, but unfortunately the natural order of things is saṃsāra. Most of what comes to us naturally is a product of afflictions. A sentient being is a mass of suffering. Happiness is just suffering concealed as something immediately agreeable. There really is no happiness in saṃsāra ... there is just suffering and the illusion of happiness, but the latter wears off sooner or later but then you continue your migration through the six realms which is utterly unsatisfying.

So it is best to recognize all this and act accordingly.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:55 am

Shii wrote:Now, you are saying that reason (your mind) is superior to what you feel in your gut (what you feel at the still center of yourself). Reason is a product of the human mind, and while it is an extraordinary tool and endlessly useful, it is not a reliable spiritual guide either.


I disagree. Reason informed by wisdom, even at a shallow level, directs one towards liberation and the abandonment of the causes of suffering.


Buddhism is about walking a middle path.


You have recast the middle path to justify your adherence to a questionable view.

What you are proposing sounds more to me like fluffy New Age sentiments than something informed by Buddhadharma.


Take your time. There is no need to rush.


Times over. I wholeheartedly reject your position.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Namgyal » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:25 am

Huseng wrote:you can actively abstain from the creation of emotion, though it takes a certain degree of mental stamina and development.

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That is total 'rowlocks'...
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby muni » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:34 am

I see this on google about intellectualize: To avoid psychological insight into (an emotional problem) by performing an intellectual analysis. Or: to ignore the emotional or psychological significance of (an action, feeling, etc.) And emotionalizing is then to avoid/ignore intellectualizing?

Emotionalizing and intellectualizing, what is their source?
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Namgyal » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:35 am

'When we meet foolish beings tears openly well up from the force of unbearable compassion.' (Saraha)

'Bodhisattvas view every sentient being as their own child. In this way they continually have the desire to benefit them.' (Mahayanasutralankara)

'He should handle all beings as if they were his mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter, his friends, relatives, or kinsmen. It is thus that a bodhisattva should behave if he wants to go forth to supreme enlightenment.' (Prajnaparamita)
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby muni » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:51 am

Namgyal wrote:
'When we meet foolish beings tears openly well up from the force of unbearable compassion.' (Saraha)

'Bodhisattvas view every sentient being as their own child. In this way they continually have the desire to benefit them.' (Mahayanasutralankara)

'He should handle all beings as if they were his mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter, his friends, relatives, or kinsmen. It is thus that a bodhisattva should behave if he wants to go forth to supreme enlightenment.' (Prajnaparamita)


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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:16 am

In the Sabbasava Sutta (MN 2) the relevant passages for emotions are §2 (restraining the 6 senses) and §6 (destroying sensuality, ill will, cruelty, unskilful mental qualities). Still, that's not the same as eliminating all emotions. In fact, there are the seven factors of enlightenment (§7) one has to develop what includes persistence (viriya), rapture (piti) and serenity (passaddhi).

And then there is a teaching like Bodhisattvacaryānirdeśa where you are taught not to abandon anything but simply realise the non-arising of phenomena.

One should speak like this – do not give up your passion (rāga), do not fight your aversion (dveṣa), do not clear away your bewilderment (moha), do not liberate (uccal-) yourself from your body (kāya), practise (car-) the bad things (akuśala), do not hold back (nigrah-) your views (dṛṣṭi), do not be conscious of the bonds [to the worldly things] (sāyojana), grasp for (parigrah-) the parts of the personality (skandha), amass (piṇḍīkṛ-) the spheres of sense-perception (dhātu), move about (car-) among the fields of sense-perception (āyatana), do not leave (atî-) the stage of fools (bālabhūmi), frequent (āgam-) the bad (akuśala), give up the good (kuśala), do not think of (manaskṛ-) the Buddha, do not reflect (cint-) on religious teachings (dharma), do not give offerings to (pūj-) the congregation of monks (sāgha), do not take the training (śikṣā) upon yourself (samādā-), do not seek (prārthaya-) the peacefulness of existence (bhavaśamana), do not cross over (uttṛ-) the river [of existence] (ogha). This kind of instructions one should teach and give to the bodhisattva in the beginning of his development (ādikarmika).
Why? Because this state of the moments of existence and nothing else is their [true] state (iyaṃ dharmāṇāṃ dharmasthitir shitir eva).
Foolish people (bāla) explain things (vyākṛ-) in accordance with moments of existence of arising (utpādadharma) and moments of existence of disappearance (nirodhadharma). But this sphere of all moments of existence distinguishes itself by being beyond thought-constructions (sa tu dharmadhātur nirvikalpaprabhāvitaḥ), and understanding the essential character of all these moments of existence in this way is awakening (ya eṣāṃ dharmāṇāṃ svabhāvasyaivamanubodhaḥ sā bodhir iti).
If he is taught in this way and does not become afraid, scared or terrified, then he is a bodhisattva not turning back in his development, one who has a part in the stage of never turning back (yady evam upadiṣṭo nottrasen na sātrasyen na sātrāsam āpadyeta sa vatāvaivartiko bodhisattvo ’vaivairtikabhūmibhāgīya iti jñātavyaḥ).
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby seeker242 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:25 pm

Huseng wrote:
seeker242 wrote:If all emotions are suffering then how can metta, karuna, and mudita be "divine abodes"?


I don't think they're passionate emotions.

I think there is a difference between wanting someone to be free from suffering and the affliction-driven emotion of love.


Ahh, I guess it depends on what your definition of "Love" is then. To me, the emotion of "love" includes metta, etc. :smile:
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby jeeprs » Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:46 pm

I remember a profile on one of the Ayatollahs in charge of the Iranian revolution. Many years before he came to power, he witnessed one of his wives die by drowning. He showed no visible emotion. This was taken as a sign of his spiritual maturity.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:03 pm

To be sure we are all on the same page..or otherwise..it might be useful to look at the s/kandhas model.
Where do we put emotion within that model ?
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:23 pm

jeeprs wrote:I remember a profile on one of the Ayatollahs in charge of the Iranian revolution. Many years before he came to power, he witnessed one of his wives die by drowning. He showed no visible emotion. This was taken as a sign of his spiritual maturity.


In the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya it says if a woman is drowning the monk can refrain from jumping in and saving her thus avoiding contact with a female, and be at no fault.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Indrajala » Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:26 pm

Simon E. wrote:To be sure we are all on the same page..or otherwise..it might be useful to look at the s/kandhas model.
Where do we put emotion within that model ?


They are saṃskāra-s.
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Namgyal » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:36 pm

Huseng wrote:the monk can refrain from jumping in and saving her...and be at no fault.

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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Dan74 » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:52 pm

"The passions are Buddhanature."

~~~~~Ven. Myokyo-Ni
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby Simon E. » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:33 pm

Can I ask the context of that quote Dan ?
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Re: Emotion and Reason

Postby jeeprs » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:38 pm

Huseng wrote:
jeeprs wrote:I remember a profile on one of the Ayatollahs in charge of the Iranian revolution. Many years before he came to power, he witnessed one of his wives die by drowning. He showed no visible emotion. This was taken as a sign of his spiritual maturity.


In the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya it says if a woman is drowning the monk can refrain from jumping in and saving her thus avoiding contact with a female, and be at no fault.


So much for compassion, eh?

Two monks were making a long trip on foot during very wet weather. They came across a flooded river crossing just as it was getting dark and found a woman stranded by the rising water. One of the monks wordlessly picked her up and carried her across the ford, setting her down on the other side, and they went on her way. The other monk seemed annoyed that this had happened, and after some time, turned to his companion and said 'you know we are not supposed to touch a woman!'

To which the first monk replied 'That woman? I left her back at the river. Are you still carrying her?'
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