What are Emotions?
The soul has been labeled as that part of us that embodies emotion. And so it does. But what is not explained in more detail is that the soul is a massive part of us that gives us the potential to be a creative force in our human condition. (In some models of teachings the soul encompasses thoughts as well as emotion, as the two are difficult to separate).
It would not be unwarranted to split the term soul into two levels, that of lower mode and a higher mode.
Emotions are reactions and are triggered by an event that is usually cause for trauma, whether that trauma be dramatic or a small pull of unease. You may have heard the saying Emotion = energy in motion. If you hold onto a trauma, ie it remains unresolved, then energy is caught, and the flow of energy is stopped. That's a very simple concept to understand.
If traumas remain trapped it's because you did not have the mechanisms or know how to deal with them, you can become embittered in some form and the result is a continual reaction. The emotion can remain dormant until someone comes along and triggers the same trauma and off you go again with another reaction. It becomes a circle and in time the initial reason is usually long forgotten, your trauma becomes an unconscious part of your soul, an unresolved issue if you will. Unresolved traumas create a grasping in your body and can result in a tactile feeling of pain.
The feeling of compassion is often overtaken by emotion. Say a friend lost their mother, for example, you stand with your friend during her time of loss. If you get drawn into the grief, then this is no longer compassion. You have become emotional for your own reasons. You have gone from a feeling of holding your friend in a state of compassion, to having an emotional reaction. You think you are crying for your friend, poor thing, losing her mother, how sad. In fact you are crying for your own sense of loss. Even if you have not lost your mother, you react as if you have. The mind gets involved and gives a distorted perception of what it would be like to actually lose your mother. It's a reaction, it's an emotion. There is a clear difference between a feeling of compassion, and an emotional reaction to loss.
A way of helping to discern between an Emotion and a Feeling is to watch the mechanisms. Emotions have an action, they are volatile, like anger and jealousy, passionate love is an emotion, sadness, grief, even uncontrollable laughter is an emotion. It is the result of an action.
A feeling is a state of Being. Joy is a state of being, (not to be mixed up with pleasure as a result of deeds). Enthusiasm is another feeling. Higher love is a feeling. A feeling is not conditional. No wantings, no expectations, just a state of being.
Emotions being reactions can get out of control. So much so that your perception of reality becomes clouded. That serves no one, particularly you. It's unrealistic to walk on this lovely planet without becoming subject to emotions, either yours or someone elses. But how you take your soul into a higher state is to not get dragged into the emotional pit, but find ways to hold yourself through the human journey without being blown to the four winds. No easy feat for many of us.
The higher level of the soul would be reserved for that state where emotions do not sway decisions. You remain centered no matter what. You feel and deal with whatever sensations and situations come your way.
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