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What is emotion? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Question: How can we control our emotions?

Speaker: How can you control something that you do not quite understand? Our friend here is controlling the operations of this camera. How is he able to control the operations? Because he understands the functioning, he knows what leads to what, he knows when to pull the lever, he knows when to press a button; he knows all these things. To control anything, you need to understand. In fact, once you have understood that, you don’t have to even need to control.

Do you understand, what are emotions? We get emotional quite often, but have we bothered, have we paused and asked, ‘what is this thing called emotion?’? What is emotion?

Listener 1: Emotions are those small activities which affect us in great sense.

Speaker: Alright! Understand this. You may be sitting here and there may some kind of irritation in the mind, but you are sitting silently. That irritation is not showing up in your body or upon your face. The irritation increases, the mind becomes more disturbed. What will start happening? What will start happening?

You will start fidgeting a little, you will start looking here and there. Your body will become restless. After sometime, the irritation increases even further and it becomes anger. Now what will happen? Your face will change a little. Your eyes will change a little. What you call as the pupil of the eyes, will become a little dilated. And if the anger increases a little more in the mind, the irritation is a thought, and then your body will start shivering, your cheek will get red, you may even get violent, and then the people will say that he has become emotional.

What is emotion? Emotion is just thought. ‘Thought’ that becomes severe, intense. ‘Thought’ that has gathered a lot of energy. Lot of energy is stored in the subconscious, thoughts usually remain at the surface level, but when the thought becomes intense, then it gets connected to the energy of the sub-conscious. You can leave all that aside.

You can just understand that intense thought is called emotion.

There is nothing special about emotion. There is nothing sacred about emotion. Emotion is thought. When the thought becomes powerful, it starts having an impact upon the body and then you say that I have become emotional. Till the time it is just a thought, its effect on the body cannot be seen, but when the same thought becomes intense then the whole body expresses that thought and that expression is called ‘Emotion.’

You may start weeping, a little bit of sadness, you do not weep, more sad thoughts and then what happens, the eyes start flowing and then you say that I have become emotional. But what happens is, we give undue regards to emotions. We feel as if emotions are very special. No, emotions are just an expression of your conditioning. Just as thoughts arise from conditioning, so do emotions. Emotions too are an expression of your conditioning.

But that’s not the way we look at it. When somebody is saying something to us, let us say someone says, kindly give me Rs. 500, we may not accept the request, but if the same person says with tears, then we are likely to give Rs. 500. Why? Because we think that emotions are true, we think emotions are special, we think that emotions must be respected, but there is nothing special in emotions.

Emotion is thought. And all thought is conditioning. Thought comes from outside. You have acquired it. Similarly, emotions are acquired. That is why one person weeps at X and the other weeps at Y.

So, do not ask, ‘What to do with emotions?’ Rather ask, ‘How do I look at my conditioning?’, because your emotions are just an expression of your conditioning. ‘And, how do I look at my conditioning?’ From morning till evening whatever you do, whatever you say, whatever you think; if you pay attention to it, that is the only way to discover your conditioning, and as you discover your conditioning, your conditioning subsides. It will no more have the same power. And, you will find that you are gaining sensitivity.

When conditioning comes down, when the mind becomes light, free and clean, then you become progressively less emotional. Less emotional but more sensitive. Small things will touch you. You would start knowing, experiencing, what you would have never experienced earlier. It will be a very fresh thing that would now be happening to you. Emotions are stale, you already know what will make you angry. Don’t we all have our pain points? You already know that if I say this kind of a statement to you, you will become angry. So emotions are conditioned, emotions are stale. If someone comes and says that you are looking beautiful, you will become happy.

So, all emotion is pre-programmed. You already know what makes you happy. You already know that if you receive that kind of SMS, you will start crying. It is certain that if a message in such and such words comes to you, you will start crying. So there is nothing in emotions. All emotion is conditioned, pre-programmed and acquired.

Sensitivity is an altogether different thing. Sensitivity means to be open to new and fresh. Like looking at a sunrise for the first time, like splashing fresh, cool water on your face in the morning, that is sensitivity. That fresh experience, and that is not being emotional, that is not a sentiment.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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