In this text I would like to share my current perception of, to me, rather important element of human overall existence: emotions.
Of course, hundreds of books and other texts have been written on the subject and accepted (psychological) theories about emotions vary considerably.
In this text, however, I will try to offer an overview of perception of emotions from the so called integral standpoint.
Integral standpoint in this context translates to not only one level of understanding of the subject in question, but from all existing levels of human awareness as per accepted Wilber map:
– mental ego,
– authentic level,
– subtle transpersonal level,
– causal transpersonal self and
– (Buddhist) nondual level.
It goes without saying that words below are colored by my current subjective perception and I invite you to view them as such. No absolute, no authoritative and final truths can you find herein.
The Mental ego or Instrumental level
Prior to Mental ego level there are two more levels of awareness, i.e. body self and family level (sometimes called also magic and mythical level).
As far as the Body self is concerned, I cant really accept the old and worn out notion that babies are born into this world like a white blank slates. A quick google search yields thousands results affirming this notion to be false.
Family self level is of course very important. A soul in a young and small body identifies with pretty much everything that is happening in her or his immediate environment (family, tribe etc…).
And when an individual leaves this primary environment and ventures into the world at large, the so called Mental ego or Instrumental self kicks in.
At this level individual has no real connection with emotions. Even as adults, many individuals have to be shown and taught how to open up and feel their own emotions. They are focusing mostly on the mental capacities and live their lives as others want, pushing their own inner climate away, to no avail, of course. The result of years of such avoidance might be a depression, physical diseases and maybe even psychotic episodes.
At this level, emotions can be seen as a sign of weakness, sentimentality and childishness. I am sure you understand what I mean here, for if your parents were not Authentic individuals, self-actualized and without any pressing issues in personal life, chances are that you have heard things like: good boys don’t cry or good girls do not show anger. That is a rather poor attitude, to say the least, in my opinion.
It is my observation from thousands and thousands of humanistic psychotherapy sessions that most adults are in fact little children in grown up bodies. They don’t or can’t really handle emotions, or in other words, they handle emotions like little boys and girls do. I will let you draw your own conclusions of what that means.
At this level, people are trying to fix things, pouring dis-harmonies into the relationships while doing it. They try to change others by hoping to repair all around them (instead of assuming responsibility for their own inner psychological climate and stop troubling others).
It is a war they will never ever win, for others can not be fixed or changed. Each and everyone of us has to do that on his/her own.
The Authentic level
To be able to ascend to this rare level of awareness, an individual person has to work hard to clear the so called Shadow (negative tendencies, traumas, compromises etc…) that cloud their perception of things as they really are.
Emotions at the Authentic level are felt as real, strong and important energies that origin inside. A person at this level can and does assume full responsibility for the emotions, for s/he knows that anger, guilt, shame etc. are products of unmet needs and positive emotions are result of met and actualized needs.
Emotions at this level are felt and expressed in real time and present no problem.
Truth be told, I personally know only a few persons that are at this level. In practice that means that most people I know are still not really dealing with their emotions as something real and personal. Mostly people still point fingers and blame others for their emotions.
The Subtle transpersonal level
Having cleared out most of the Shadow, a person at this level is conditioned by emotions no more. S/he can clearly see that emotions are only energies that do not even belong to them. Anger is not “My anger” but only an anger, an energy that needs to be felt and expressed.
At this level, even innermost so called needs (or potentials) are perceived as something that is an expression of even deeper reality. Deeper reality in this context of course means:
The Causal transpersonal self
Everything, everything in our lives originates somewhere. And that origin is the Causal self, The I am presence, the God within, the Pure choice-less witness.
At this level, emotions are only energy, seen as in a dream, an insubstantial energy that is in fact integral part of overall Existence that is the only One.
Everything at this level is only a play, a drama, a projection on the screen of Pure and Absolute awareness that is the I am.
At this level, a person might appear as a distant witness to all human emotional drama.
The (Buddhist) nondual level
At this level, emotions (and everything else for that matter) is perceived as lacking inherent existence. There is nothing really there, not even in the so called happiness, love and joy – only emptiness.
Emptiness (or sunyata) is what is perceived at this level. And that translates to complete peace very very far from emotional “peace” from personal Authentic level.
It is the most honest and open attitude towards emotions that one can produce. It requires total openness and surrender.
Rare are individuals that are at this level. In fact, I have met only one person thus far. It is like meeting a living being that has a strong peaceful presence of, well, absence of everything.
With all of the above been said, emotions are limiting energies that usually present a real challenge (to a person on a Mental ego level). After the Authentic level has been attained, emotions present no problem anymore, in my experience. Even more, from the Transpersonal stages of awareness (Subtle level and beyond), emotions are deluding components of human awareness at best and even at the personal levels it is really not all that wise to focus solely on them. They are important, yes, but even more important is a deeper reality.
How do you perceive “your” emotions?