Chapter 4: Seven Emotions - Seven Gates

Emotions, as they rise, are carriers of energy. This energy is information. It i s one way that consciousness expresses itself in the playground of the present. We have looked at how ego operates: its simple yet effective trick to hijack our awareness and produce a particular consciousness of duality, expressed as ‘ego re ality’ that seems so real, so solid and so personal. It seems there really is some thing we have to defend. And it hurts. Whether we ‘succeed’ in defending or ‘fail’, it h urts either way. We have seen how using different labels for emotional states viz ‘contracting’ and ‘ex panding’ can begin to help us unwind the convolutions of ego. Here we are not ‘makin g up’ words in order to ‘trick’ ourselves into thinking a different way. We are removi ng a layer of (ego) interpretation and using words that more closely reflect the feeling, the experience of emotion. This is all very well. It is useful, of course, yet we need a way to work (play! ) more fundamentally with the process of emotion, freeing ourselves from the hab it of negativity. To take the process beyond the re-framing of the result once i t has already risen in the mind. Fortunately we have the raw materials, the abil ities and the tools already – our mindfulness and awareness. Equally fortunately, we have a shared reality that is filled with many wonderful wisdom teachings tha t can provide us with a structure – to turn the chaos into process, to refine or p recipitate out the direction from the confusion of potential movement. In other words, the wisdom teachings can show us which direction to head in when we don’t k now… So let’s look at a structure, a useful roadmap, a support to our practice of consc ious and active exploration of ourselves and our reality through shamatha. The structure we propose is that of the Seven Emotions and their associated gate s (glands & centres).

The story of suppression. At the arising of pain within the consciousness, from whatever cause, there is a n habitual contraction of energy, interpreted (by guess who?) as negative/ bad. The result is that we indulge or deny the pain – these are the two mechanisms of s uppression. And suppression is built, at base, on the unwillingness to feel what we are feeling (already). Prompted always by the ego and its catalogue of embed ded beliefs and attitudes. So from the original apprehension/ feeling of pain wi thin the consciousness, we suppress, we layer additional stories and strategies, mechanisms, manipulations – we think to escape by not allowing the feeling. Actua lly, we make matters worse, not better. The resulting pattern of suppressed pain is stored at the level of the pituitary gland. At each level/ layer of suppression the mechanism is the same: unwillingness to feel what we are feeling, leading to suppression that locks our free-flow of ene rgy into complexes of repeating (stuck) energy patterns. We use ‘complex’ advisedly or suggestively. The ‘complex’ here is the ‘neurotic complex’. As one Tibetan Lama put it: “What is neurotic? It is to have a story where there is no story.” This is the long and short of how suppression becomes neurosis. It is, by the way, on way in which psychosis (according to Jung’s definition) can come ab out – the final suppression is out of conscious awareness all together (see below) . There are other way psychosis can come about, this is just one. The shamatha i s then a way to heal neuroticism (see applications later). Healing psychosis is another matter, again. So then, we get trapped in the stories around and about the emotion. And in this there are the two levels: having the stories, firstly, and then getting trapped in them. Getting trapped (indulging or denying) is synonymous here with suppres

sion. The suppression seems to be a way to deal with the pain. It is ego’s usual p loy of offering the appearance of short-term gain, when the bigger picture clear ly shows there is no gain to be had in suppression. To see how this works, we ne ed only observe ourselves. Any time will do… we do it constantly. As the story continues through the suppression of pain, we next come to anger. A nger is often the initial response to pain (think about the last time you stubbe d your toe, or hit your thumb with a hammer). The suppression of pain is so quic k and habitual that the rising of anger is mostly considered to be an initial re action, rather than a second step. Yet if you look, you will see pain is first b y itself, then anger arises out of it. More particularly, the anger arises as a way back to pain. The wisdom nature tha t is a part of us is constantly trying to liberate us from ego. If we could expe rience the anger just as it is, feel it fully, then it would dissolve back into pain. Then, experiencing the pain as it is, fully consciously and completely, th at too dissolves back into what it more truly is – the energy of enthusiasm, of lo ve, of clarity, of compassion and wisdom realizing emptiness. How does it dissolve? All things are born, live and die. All things arise, remai n and dissolve back into their essence. This operates at all levels of life – it i s a universal law. In other words, if we offer no resistance to the flow of ener gy expressed (in this instance) as emotion, then it too will arise, remain for a time, and dissolve back into the ground of energy from which it arose. This is called flowing with the illusion. In the Dharma teachings, a metaphor used for this process is that of the waves a nd the ocean. The wave arises from the ocean, remains for a time as a wave and t hen dissolves back into the ocean. In a deeper way we could say that though the wave has momentary existence as a wave, it is in essence never anything differen t than the ocean. And ‘momentary’ we can think of as both ‘temporary’ and in the mathema tical sense of ‘forces acting about a point’. The forces are karmic forces and the p oint is the present. The energy of the illusion flows until ego throws a spanner in the works. Perhap s in light of the ‘wave’ example above, we could say – till ego sticks its oar in! Overlaying the anger with more stories, entrapping and distracting us from consc iously, completely and fully experiencing the anger, we do not return to the pai n in a process of liberation. We suppress further into a process of disempowerme nt, a process of confusion, separating from the Truth. This is another way to lo ok at the story of samsara. We suppress pain, then, into anger. This suppressed anger is stored in the thyroid. The process then repeats from anger into fear (stored in the thymus); from fear into grief (stored in the adrenals, solar plexus and pancreas); from grief into apathy (stored in the spleen); and finally from apathy, the ‘neurotic complex’, this bubble or matrix/ lattice of involuted energy, sinks away from conscious awaren ess altogether into the subconscious. Unconsciousness is stored in the gonads. From submersion in the subconscious, the story doesn’t finish. Left in the same do wnward spiral this bubble in the psyche will drift down and down, deeper into th e subconscious, then the unconscious. By the time it nears the collective uncons cious it has undergone an evolution of sorts. But that’s another story! So, that’s our structure. The story of suppression: Pineal Enthusiasm Pituitary Pain Thyroid Anger Thymus Fear Adrenals Grief Spleen Apathy Gonads Subconscious The story of resurrection or redemption or liberation, or whatever, is just the reverse of this. The key is mindfulness and awareness. This translates in this c ontext as being willing to feel, consciously, completely and fully, the emotions as they rise – to allow them, to be with them. Remembering also the tricks of the

ego, we realize that the emotion is something that I am feeling, not who I am – w e identify ourselves with what we more really are – awareness. Recognizing ourself as awareness sets the context in which the emotion and the stories around and a bout it can play out. We are bigger, more complex (made up of many components) t han the ego-story/ ego reality of this suppression. There is a saying in Tibetan about meditation which is often translated as: “medit ation isn’t; getting used to is.” Ok, not the greatest English! It does, though, ha ve a very wide application in many areas of meditative experience. One basic way in which we can interpret its meaning is that meditation is nothin g other than getting used to the contents of your own mind by looking at them re peatedly over the course of time. Another metaphor for this would be walking dow n a street. On the first day we might notice a few houses, a few trees, a particular crack i n the paving stones. The next day we’ll notice more things, more details and furth er nuances of detail in the things we’ve already noticed. Meditation/ shamatha is really no more difficult or esoteric in its method than this. And like the stree t that we walk down, we’ll begin to notice that our mind tends always to have the same things in it. The more used to them we get – you could say, the more intimate we become with the raw materials of our reality (beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, feelings, choices, decisions) – the more we see, the deeper we see. Where the metaphor of the street falls down slightly is that becoming more intim ate with contents of the mind, with the mind and its projections, is much more e motional than the usual experience of walking down the street. With our understa nding of how ego works and now the roadmap/ structure of the Seven Emotions, we are much better prepared. As we mentioned earlier, the simple process of just sitting would eventually ach ieve everything. Having roadmaps, whilst it doesn’t actually speed up how fast you travel, does at least help you not to shoot off in the opposite direction to wh ere you want to go.

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