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Chapter 4: Seven Emotions, Seven Gates Coming Home


Emotions, as they rise, are carriers of energy. This energy is information. It is 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 reality’ that seems so real, so solid and so personal. It seems there really is something we have to defend. And it hurts. Whether we ‘succeed’ in defending or ‘fail’, it hurts either way. We have seen how using different labels for emotional states viz ‘contracting’ and ‘expanding’ can begin to help us unwind the convolutions of ego. Here we are not ‘making up’ words in order to ‘trick’ ourselves into thinking a different way. We are removing 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 habit of negativity. To take the process beyond the re-framing of the result once it has already risen in the mind. Fortunately we have the raw materials, the abilities and the tools already – our mindfulness and awareness. Equally fortunately, we have a shared reality that is filled with many wonderful wisdom teachings that can provide us with a structure – to turn the chaos into process, to refine or precipitate 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 know… So let’s look at a structure, a useful roadmap, a support to our practice of conscious and active exploration of ourselves and our reality through shamatha. The structure we propose is that of the Seven Emotions and their associated gates (glands & centres).

The story of suppression.
At the arising of pain within the consciousness, from whatever cause, there is an 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 suppression. 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 embedded beliefs and attitudes. So from the original apprehension/ feeling of pain within the consciousness, we suppress, we layer additional stories and strategies, mechanisms, manipulations – we think to escape by not allowing the feeling. Actually, 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 energy 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 about – 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 is 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

if we offer no resistance to the flow of energy expressed (in this instance) as emotion. From submersion in the subconscious. separating from the Truth. of compassion and wisdom realizing emptiness. you will see pain is first by itself. live and die. experiencing the pain as it is. this bubble or matrix/ lattice of involuted energy. fully consciously and completely. The suppression seems to be a way to deal with the pain. we could say – till ego sticks its oar in! Overlaying the anger with more stories. then the unconscious. This suppressed anger is stored in the thyroid. All things arise. it is in essence never anything different than the ocean. then it too will arise. Perhaps in light of the ‘wave’ example above. then. then it would dissolve back into pain. remains for a time as a wave and then dissolves back into the ocean. As the story continues through the suppression of pain. The energy of the illusion flows until ego throws a spanner in the works. Any time will do… we do it constantly. Yet if you look. from grief into apathy (stored in the spleen). the ‘neurotic complex’. or whatever. is just the reverse of this. sinks away from conscious awareness altogether into the subconscious. Left in the same downward spiral this bubble in the psyche will drift down and down. we next come to anger. into anger. when the bigger picture clearly shows there is no gain to be had in suppression. The process then repeats from anger into fear (stored in the thymus). By the time it nears the collective unconscious it has undergone an evolution of sorts. that’s our structure. the anger arises as a way back to pain. Then. remain for a time. This is another way to look at the story of samsara.or denying) is synonymous here with suppression. In a deeper way we could say that though the wave has momentary existence as a wave. entrapping and distracting us from consciously. More particularly. from fear into grief (stored in the adrenals. But that’s another story! So. a metaphor used for this process is that of the waves and the ocean. This operates at all levels of life – it is a universal law. we do not return to the pain in a process of liberation. The suppression of pain is so quick and habitual that the rising of anger is mostly considered to be an initial reaction. of love. It is ego’s usual ploy of offering the appearance of short-term gain. deeper into the subconscious. the story doesn’t finish. feel it fully. In other words. To see how this works. The wisdom nature that is a part of us is constantly trying to liberate us from ego. or hit your thumb with a hammer). that too dissolves back into what it more truly is – the energy of enthusiasm. Anger is often the initial response to pain (think about the last time you stubbed your toe. In the Dharma teachings. And ‘momentary’ we can think of as both ‘temporary’ and in the mathematical sense of ‘forces acting about a point’. completely and fully experiencing the anger. We suppress further into a process of disempowerment. We suppress pain. of clarity. How does it dissolve? All things are born. and dissolve back into the ground of energy from which it arose. . The forces are karmic forces and the point is the present. Unconsciousness is stored in the gonads. The wave arises from the ocean. then anger arises out of it. we need only observe ourselves. This is called flowing with the illusion. and finally from apathy. a process of confusion. If we could experience the anger just as it is. 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. remain and dissolve back into their essence. rather than a second step. solar plexus and pancreas).

feelings. One basic way in which we can interpret its meaning is that meditation is nothing other than getting used to the contents of your own mind by looking at them repeatedly over the course of time. choices. though. not who I am – we identify ourselves with what we more really are – awareness. have a very wide application in many areas of meditative experience.  . completely and fully. Another metaphor for this would be walking down a street. There is a saying in Tibetan about meditation which is often translated as: “meditation isn’t. On the first day we might notice a few houses. the emotions as they rise – to allow them. consciously. we realize that the emotion is something that I am feeling. to be with them. with the mind and its projections. As we mentioned earlier. attitudes. Recognizing ourself as awareness sets the context in which the emotion and the stories around and about it can play out. the deeper we see. thoughts. decisions) – the more we see. a few trees. more complex (made up of many components) than the ego-story/ ego reality of this suppression. whilst it doesn’t actually speed up how fast you travel. a particular crack in the paving stones. Having roadmaps. getting used to is. the more intimate we become with the raw materials of our reality (beliefs. we’ll begin to notice that our mind tends always to have the same things in it. not the greatest English! It does. The next day we’ll notice more things. With our understanding of how ego works and now the roadmap/ structure of the Seven Emotions. We are bigger. Meditation/ shamatha is really no more difficult or esoteric in its method than this. Where the metaphor of the street falls down slightly is that becoming more intimate with contents of the mind. The more used to them we get – you could say. Remembering also the tricks of the ego. does at least help you not to shoot off in the opposite direction to where you want to go.The key is mindfulness and awareness. the simple process of just sitting would eventually achieve everything. And like the street that we walk down.” Ok. we are much better prepared. This translates in this context as being willing to feel. is much more emotional than the usual experience of walking down the street. more details and further nuances of detail in the things we’ve already noticed.