By Swami Rama
Extract from his book Holistic health
People frequently talk about knowing the mind and its various faculties, but they don’t talk about feeling.
Yet how can you know something without feeling it? When you perceive something, the first thing you are aware of is sensation. If you are not feeling something, you cannot know it. And if you lose the power to feel, you become insensitive. Those who are insensitive, who are not very emotional, who have learned to intellectualize everything, cannot become creative. They do not realize that beneath the thinking process lies the real source of creativity, which is emotion.
The right use of thinking is expression, but the right use of emotion is creativity. Emotion is a very great power: it is the highest power in your possession. When it comes to emotion, all human beings are one and the same because intelligence has no place before it. When you become emotional you find that your reason has left you and that you cannot help yourself. When you are emotionally upset you become blind, you lose the power of discrimination, and your entire behavior-mind, action, and speech-becomes abnormal. Misuse of emotion is
destructive, but this does not mean that all emotional power in itself is destructive. Those who are very emotional can become very creative if their emotions are properly guided and if they learn to direct them in a constructive way. People who know how to use their emotions creatively become successful in the external world and remain happy.
When emotion is led by devotion it is called ecstasy. The greatest things in the world have been done by people at the height of ecstasy. This is the work of emotion, not of the mind. Your intellectual gymnasium is not helpful in knowing your internal states. Though your mind is a very essential and powerful tool, it contains nothing new or original. It can only serve as far as the world of facts is concerned. Creativity and discovery lie beyond the mind. Emotion is the bridge between consciousness and creative thought. So you should learn to use the power of emotion to go beyond the limitations of thought.
Among the various functions of the mind, the intellect seems to be the finest-but without the help of emotional power the intellect is like a lame man who is not capable of reaching his destination. Even the highest of intellectuals can be suddenly disturbed by emotional outbursts. The untrained intellect has no power to check emotion. Those who have examined the external world ultimately find that there is something more to know and discover. They then turn within and start understanding their internal states. To do this they first need to make their mind one-pointed, and then become aware of the fact that the emotional level is deeper than the level of thoughts. When the mind is made one-pointed and inward it becomes lost, and finds itself incapable of fathoming the deeper and more subtle levels of inner life without the help of emotional power. So you cannot understand your entire personality by means of the thinking process alone, but you can do so by knowing the power of your emotions.
Though emotion is a great power, it needs to be directed willfully; otherwise it disturbs the mind. Our emotional body is like a fish in the lake of life. If the lake is in turmoil, it is impossible for the fish to remain calm and quiet. Similarly, if the mind is in constant turmoil, the emotions can never rest, and you can never use them correctly. The mind and emotions are very close, yet they are different in their functions. In the Sanskrit language the mind is called manas and emotion is called bhava. Let us discuss the origin of the emotions and see how we can make the best use of this power.
Desire (kama) is the mother of all emotions
It is kama, the prime desire, that creates turmoil in the lake of life. Kama is the mother of all emotions. Since desire itself is mixed with selfishness, kama does not motivate you to serve others but instead controls your life and makes you self-centered. It builds a boundary around you and isolates you from the whole. The more you have that desire, kama, the more you contract your personality and are prevented from expanding your level of consciousness. So desire is the prime factor of all motivations, and actions are performed according to the types of your desires. When you want to fulfill a desire you think, come to a conclusion, and then act accordingly. There are a variety of desires-active, passive, positive, negative-in the conscious and unconscious mind, and they come up to the surface and disturb the thinking process. But as it is important to understand the thinking process, it is even more important to understand the emotions which can disturb the thinking process. You can easily understand your inner being by finding out what types of desires you have.
All desires arise from four primitive fountains: self preservation, sleep, food, and sex. As far as these fountains are concerned, human beings and animals are alike. A human being sleeps, takes food, has sex, and is always concerned with self-reservation; so also is the case with animals. The difference is that in the animal kingdom all activities are controlled and governed by nature, whereas human beings have the willpower to regulate and ultimately control these four appetites, and thus they are superior to all other living creatures in the world.
THE FOUR PRIMITIVE URGES
(Self-preservation, sleep, food, sex)
Self-preservation and FearThe strongest of the four primitive fountains is self-preservation. People are always trying to protect themselves; they are afraid because they don’t want to die. In a calamity such as an earthquake I have even seen mothers leave very young children and run away to protect themselves because of their strong desire to live. The biggest fear is the fear of death; it is one thing that haunts us all the time: “What will happen to me if I die, if my wife dies?” Most people are insecure all the time because of this fear. But dying is a natural process, and all relationships are temporary because of it. This is true; and if the truth makes you insecure, then you are never safe anywhere you go, For nothing can make you secure if the truth cannot. But the truth is that there is no security anywhere. It is better for you to live with the truth than to live with insecurity. Insecurity that comes from the truth is good, and you will eventually enjoy it.
While all great people have achieved a state of fearlessness, most people live under the pressure of fear all the time. All fears are self-created; they come from a desire to obtain something which you are not fully equipped to attain, Fears develop in the mind, and if they are not examined and understood, they grow. If you keep all your fears within, then you will become neurotic. The main root of all dangers is fear, and the habit of being afraid actually invites danger. I once had an experience which illustrates this point:I used to sit on a bank of the Ganges before dawn every day. When the sun rose I would stand, and then sit down again. One morning when I sat back down someone shouted, “Don’t move! There is a snake beneath you!” The moment I heard that, I jumped and ran. Then the snake started chasing me! It chased me for fifty yards.Later I went to one of the swamis and said, “This place is very dangerous. There are snakes that chase you.” But he replied, “No. Your mind was chasing the snake, and you were actually mentally dragging it behind you. Your mind was negatively concentrated instead of positively concentrated.”Whenever you have a fear you are inviting danger by imagining it in your mind and then preparing for it. By doing this your mind becomes negatively one-pointed, and then that fear is not under your control. When you study the mind you will come to know the positive and negative aspects it contains. The negative mind has exactly as much power in being destructive as the positive mind has in being useful. That is why fears which are unexamined grow stronger and stronger every day until finally you lose your self-reliance.You can learn to be fearless. But to develop fearlessness, internal strength is needed, because truth and fearlessness walk hand in hand. In order to achieve the state of fearlessness you must first examine the nature and cause of your fears. To examine your own fears closely you will have to go beyond your thinking process. When you do this you will find that the greatest fear is that of fear itself. But fear really doesn’t exist at all! It is like darkness, which is actually only the absence of light. The sun has never seen darkness. It is they who do not see who are in the dark. So you should learn to look at your fears and examine them properly.
SleepJust as fear can cause discoordination between the mind, body, and senses, similar effects can be noticed from irregularities in sleep, the second primitive fountain. Sleep is a daily feature for everyone, rich or poor, and everyone continues to sleep throughout their whole life. But most of us do not know why we sleep, and few of us even analyze what it is. Sleep is a great pacifier, a state of rest which restores us every day. It is very important. If your sleep is disturbed you will get angry, your nervous system will remain very tense, and you will not work well. If you do not sleep properly you will be full of fears and will think that everyone is your enemy. If you don’t get the rest which sleep provides you will remain in this same mood every day, and may even become insane. You will not be able to maintain your equilibrium.
It is very unhealthy to go to sleep when you are upset or have been talking crossly, because such sleep will not be refreshing. Instead you should walk, read, meditate, pray, or in some way resolve your differences and try to find solutions for your problems before you go to sleep. You should not go to sleep with many problems on your mind; the mind should be free from conflicting thoughts before you go to bed. Going to bed with many unresolved thoughts prompts you to have bad, nerve-shattering dreams. Restless sleep and dreams full of bad experiences are not healthy.
Of all the joys in the world, the most enjoyable is sleep. Two people make love and think that this is their finest joy-but then what do they do? They go to sleep. Sleep is the advanced state of joy. But people do not know how to sleep. In ordinary sleep any harsh sounds will make a bump in the sleep pattern and disturb the sleeper. However, there is one very good technique for sleeping, which will avoid this. It is called yogic sleep. This is sleep with full determination: no matter how many drums are beaten near a person who is in yoga sleep, they won’t awaken. No one can wake them except themselves.
It is a myth that one should sleep for eight hours a day. The average person who works hard can curtail their sleep to three or four hours, and that will be sufficient. But those hours should be spent in deep sleep, not in dreaming, thinking, or waking. Sleeping for eight or ten hours is a bad habit. It wastes much time, and there is so much work to do, the finest being meditation. When a person has to plan for the next day, when they have to attain the state of tranquility, why should they waste time in disturbed sleep?
One of the finest principles of good health-which is very difficult for people nowadays-is waking up early in the morning. Pick up any book of poetry today: there is not a single poem on the rising sun. It’s as if not a single poet has awakened in time to write about the rising sun within the last fifty years. After Shakespeare, Shelley, and Keats, who talks about the morning sun? Recent poets never talk about the dawn. Instead they talk about how beautiful the evening clouds are-sunset, evening dances, evening music-everything is evening and nothing is morning. But you should learn to get up early in the morning. Before the sun rises, you should rise from your bed.
There are certain times in the early morning when the ultraviolet rays of the sun have properties which help the skin. There are skin diseases which cannot be cured by medicine, but which can be cured by the sun’s rays. So it is very important to wake up in the morning and do exercises before the sun. When you form the habit of sleeping too long you are filled with drowsiness, and that habit is called laziness or sloth. By making yourself lazy in this way, you create much unhappiness for yourself.
FoodFood is the third primitive fountain of emotion. Poor food habits can make you emotionally upset and physically ill. The first control spiritual teachers will impress upon their students is control of the palate: you should look for the food value in what you eat, not the taste. In their instructions the teachers use a bitter pill with a blessed effect-but the world uses a sweet pill with a poisonous effect. Your food habits can make you emotionally upset, insecure, and sick-or, if you take food properly, you can avoid this. Being obsessed with food can have many causes. Sometimes those who do not eat the food which is essential for their body become emotionally disturbed and think of food all the time. One may also be compensating for a problem with one of the other primitive urges by overeating. Some people become “foodaholics” -hey eat constantly. This is a danger, because food cannot be digested properly if the digestive system is never given a chance to rest. In taking food you should examine your capacity, act according to what is helpful in attaining your purpose in life, and maintain a state of cheerfulness.
Sex Just as food should be regulated, so should sex, the fourth primitive urge. It should neither be overdone nor suppressed, since doing either can create many nervous and mental diseases. Sex is the least strong of the primitive urges; it is the only one we can live without. There is no doubt that sex is a very powerful urge, but it is not the most important. The reason it often appears to be so important is that it is more related to the mind than the other three urges. It is also most related to Our relationships with other people. The sex act needs emotional control. People should prepare themselves mentally and unconsciously for having sex. A regular date and time should be set for this. By regulating your sex habits your mind does not run to the grooves of sexual thoughts all the time.
Sexual obsession and frustration are equally harmful. If you repress yourself sexually, or if your sexual life is not happy, this frustration will show itself in actions relating to one of the other primitive fountains, such as overeating. You should analyze your desires and regulate your habits according to your capacity and the purpose of life.
If these four primitive fountains are controlled they can be the source of good health and longevity, and eventually you will be able to regulate your thinking process and all of your emotions. If they are not regulated they will be the source of many problems and diseases.
You should learn to be peaceful while going to sleep, to be cheerful while taking food, and to be fully under control I while engaging in sex. Otherwise, problems can be created I in your mind. Anyone who wants to enjoy life can enjoy it in a better way if these appetites are regulated. If you have emotional problems you are making a mistake somewhere in controlling one of the urges, because all problems come from them. It is not difficult to know the source of problems if you learn to observe these four primitive fountains. Those who have regulated the four primitive urges have control over their emotions, and those who have emotional maturity are successful in the world and can be successful in enlightening themselves and attaining the purpose of life, which is self-perfection. You should learn to observe your capacity and to be aware of one concept: no extremes. Those who are extremists do not know how to establish control over their appetites for food, sleep, and sex. If you know how to regulate these appetites you will surely lead a healthy life. Regulation helps the system and tunes it into the natural laws. Regulation does not mean abstention; it means balance based on examination of your capacity. Oversleeping or undersleeping, overindulging in sex or sexual repression, overeating or too much fasting – all are injurious to your health and your spiritual aspirations. They weaken the mind, create guilt feelings, and make you lose confidence.
THE SEVEN MAIN STREAMS OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
When you study the emotions you find that there are seven main streams of negative emotions that arise from the four primitive fountains or appetites. Desire, or kama, which we have already discussed, is the first stream and the mother of them all.
It is the expression of frustration for a desire that finds obstruction in its fulfillment. You should try to remember this whenever you get angry. Anger is different from what many modern therapists suggest. They say, “Come on, release your anger; let it out.” It is true that if you do not express your anger it will turn into another disastrous direction; so you can let it out momentarily for the sake of your health. However, when you become angry your nervous system is activated, and in a fit of anger you might start acting like a wild animal. If you were to get angry all the time, you would want to express this anger all the time, and there would be no end to it; you would be forming a very bad habit. Anger is such a blind emotion that at its peak one can commit suicide or kill others. If you allowed yourself to release all your angers, you would be behind bars in a day. All the negative emotions are blind, but anger is the most dangerous.
Therefore it is very important to know how to train yourself not to get angry. This can definitely be done: it will happen when you learn how to control your desires. You should decide which desires are helpful for your growth and which desires will create obstructions to your growth. Learning to train the intellect within (buddhi) will definitely help in doing this: when you get angry, you can arrive at the source of your frustration and anger by sitting down and analyzing why you got angry in the first place and examining which desires were not fulfilled.
The third stream of negative emotion which is harmful for unfoldment arises when your desire is fulfilled and you become proud. “I have fulfilled my desires and others could not fulfill theirs. Look at how great I am.” Pride happens when you have something others do not have and you are constantly aware of this.
The fourth emotion occurs when someone else succeeds in attaining the object of your desire, and you do not. This is called jealousy. You may have something-but someone else may have something you think is better. You find yourself incapable of fulfilling your own desires if the other person is fulfilling theirs. When you are jealous you are condemning yourself for being incompetent. You have lost the battle and accepted defeat.
The fifth emotion comes when you have something and you become attached to it by identifying yourself with it. You don’t see its true nature: that it will go to decay, to destruction, to death; you become so attached that you don’t realize this. For instance, a man has a wife, and as long as she is fulfilling all his desires he remains pleased with her. But the moment she loses her beauty, he gets upset. This is called attachment. Nowadays people do not seem to know the distinction between attachment and love. Attachment is selfish; love is selfless. Attachment brings bondage; love gives freedom. Attachment contracts consciousness; love expands it. Attachment becomes a source of torment; love becomes a source of liberation.
When two people meet, they should come together in grand liberation and joy, not in bondage and attachment. Misery comes because of attachment, because there is no giving in the relationship. The greatest happiness in life comes from giving, and the greatest chaos comes when two people claim to love each other but are really attached. Such a relationship, which is built on expectation, can only bring misery. When you really learn to love somebody you will be doing things selflessly and spontaneously, for love is that concern in which you enjoy giving and don’t expect anything in return. That is the way to freedom.
The sixth emotion comes from attachment. It inspires you to want more and more. It is a perverted cultural desire which comes through competition and insecurity. It makes you narrow, selfish, self-centered, and petty-minded. It is called greed. Greedy people do not want to share the object of their attachment with others; they want to protect it.
The seventh emotion is the last and most powerful. It is egotism, which leads you to separate yourself from the whole by comparing yourself to others. Many times this is based on false pride: you are afraid because there may be somebody better than you. People who don’t have anything frequently become egotistical to compensate for their inferiority complexes.
By examining these seven streams of emotion: desire, anger, pride, attachment, greed, jealousy, and egotism you can analyze yourself.
By studying your thoughts, speech, and actions you can find out how emotionally mature you are. All control is emotional. If the emotions are not controlled, there is no control at all. Control does not mean suppression of expression-it means regulation and balance within your capacity. With the help of reason and observation you can remain beyond the sway of emotion.You should learn to attain a state of emotional maturity in which you know how to use your emotions positively. Positive emotion leads you to self-reliance and self-confidence, and motivates your mind, action, and speech in a joyous and creative way. Unselfish love is the highest positive emotion, and it can lead to devotion. When you love another, you want to serve and give to the loved one. You are prepared to give that person anything you possess. Such joy is a positive emotion, and helps you in being creative and in becoming a success in life. It results in peace, tranquility, and equilibrium.Positive emotion is very helpful in self-growth. It has its roots in selfless service and love for others. This expands the human consciousness. When the mind tires of analyzing and searching for the answer to certain problems, positive emotion can help and lead the mind to a state of attainment.
Those who are “insiders” and know the value of life, with its currents and cross currents, understand that the inner world has much to offer, and the more they dive deep into the inner levels the more they become aware of their human resources.When the four primitive urges are regulated and the seven streams of emotion are controlled, the positive emotions emerge. Then you can make the best use of your emotional power-which is the highest of all human powers-and can attain the highest wisdom. You should learn to attain a state of emotional maturity in which you know how to use your emotions positively.By training yourself on the level of desire you can come to understand your inner nature. When you do this you will become aware of that which is called conscience. When you understand your conscience you will realize that it is like a mirror which can never lie. Ifyou tell your conscience “I am a liar, but you must say that I am not a liar,” your conscience will not be able to do it. Ifyou paint your face, your mirror will always tell you which color it is painted. Even if the whole world tells you what a wonderful person you are, your conscience will know if you are a fake; no matter how much you implore it to lie, your conscience will still tell you the truth.
Modern man is trying to kill his conscience. We rely on feedback from others and are afraid of becoming aware of ourselves as we really are. This is because as we learn to understand ourselves from within we first come in touch with that part of our personality which we have been condemning, and then we identify ourselves with these negative thoughts.
Such negative thinking is a constant source of disease. Condemning yourself and continually saying “I’m sorry” creates a sorry personality and a sony state of health. Every time you feel bad and sorry you should learn to recognize and appreciate your own inner potential. Your internal and external conflicts weaken you until you have no capacity to enjoy the positive qualities within yourself.You should never condemn yourself for thinking a particular thought. If you think of killing somebody you should remember that you are not actually killing anyone; you are only entertaining a thought, and you can let it pass away. You should not identify yourself with your thoughts. You are not a criminal for having bad thoughts. You become a criminal when you identify yourself with those thoughts and start acting according to them-but not before that. If you let the thoughts pass away, they are gone. So the thing for which you condemn yourself is really nothing. There is no way to overcome self-condemnation except to rely on your own inner mirror, your conscience. Going against your conscience is suicide.Not a single emotion exists that is not related to something else. There is always some external object involved. Not a single emotion is your own. When you take in a sensation, the sensation finally leads to emotion. Emotion means relationship, and relationship means life. As long as you do not participate in life you will remain lonely. Loneliness is the root cause of many, many diseases. In a way, everyone is lonely. Though they are admiring and hugging each other, claiming how much they love and are loved, people are actually lonely. If you analyzed that loneliness you would find an amazing thing: you would find that it is those who love you who make you lonely. No stranger has the power to do that. Your loneliness means that your emotions are not under your control, that there is something wrong in your relationships. You should learn to be strong. Strength means not to be influenced by the suggestions and influence of others, especially by their negative suggestions. Positive suggestions become part of learning, but negative suggestions become part of self-destruction.You can analyze any emotional problem you have-but analysis alone is not going to transform your personality if you don’t train yourself.
Following your conscience will help you to appreciate yourself and keep you from doing further damage. That is also a good beginning, but it will not undo the habits that are already formed. So you need to have a self-training program to change yourself. If yon don’t, you may know your problems but you will not be able to get rid of them. For instance, if you know that your pain lies at a specific spot, that knowledge is not going to help you much: you must learn the way to eliminate it. Everyone already has that ability within; you need only to become aware of the inner reality and come in touch with those potentials within you which will lead to a state of perennial happiness.
It is kama, the prime desire, that creates turmoil in the lake of life. Kama is the mother of all emotions. Since desire itself is mixed with selfishness, kama does not motivate you to serve others but instead controls your life and makes you self-centered
🌺 Peace, Love, Harmony
See below a map that presents the most fundamental aspects of Ego.