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Monday, June 28, 2010

Where do Negative Thoughts Come From?

Ginger asked me this question in her post:: Would you go so far as to say that ALL "negative" "downer" emotions stem from fear, & all "positive" emotions stem from the loving parts of ourselves?

My answer is that that all emotions, negative or positive are the direct result of thoughts which are either negative or positive.

Generally speaking our thinking falls into two categories, habitual and passive, or creative and on-purpose thinking. Creative and on-purpose thoughts can either be negative or positive (because the brain works by learned association--a negative thought may trigger a positive thought and vice-versa because they have been somehow linked by association, either purposefully or accidentally) but, in general, on purpose thinking tends to be positive. Habitual or passive thinking is almost always negative. For more on how your get from one thought to another read Brainswitch out of Depression.

The other question Ginger asked is: You have said that we "are" love, so it would seem that our truly "logical, realistic" thoughts are actually our positive ones? Our joy and contentment is really authentic, while our "logical" thoughts that are sullen & grim are simply lies we tell ourselves? Am I following you correctly with all this?

This is not so easy to understand because our present-day culture is not set up for contemplating the core principles of all humanity like honesty, justice, wisdom, integrity, self-sacrifice, humility, or courage (only in some small pockets of higher education like Hillsdale College that is not funded by the government)

Generally in the last 50 years, especially in the Ivy League colleges, our education has been concerned with socio-psychological movements like feminism, or ethnicity, success, self-esteem, social justice or self-actualization. We have lost a lot of the ancient wisdom because only a few colleges teach from primary sources, the written works of the great thinkers. Most colleges teach from secondary texts which conform to contemporary thinking (like "the end justifies the means") and usually written by the professors who teach the courses.

The thing to remember is that love is not an emotion. Love is our essential being, our essential sense of okayness. It is what remains when all our fear is brought to the surface and let go of.

All emotion is fear-based because it is produced in the subcortex, our original instinctual brain which is a defense mechanism. We give fearful emotions different labels according to the situation in which they occur. The fearful emotion that we feel while being mugged on the street is called fright although it is the same emotion that we feel getting ready to do a high dive or take our first solo flying lesson. But generally we call these kinds of emotion that occur during benign activities, excitement.

The feeling of excitement that we get when we finally achieve what we want, like winning the lottery, or finding a lost child, or getting our husband to suddenly stop drinking and become Prince Charming, is called happiness.

Happiness only comes from the temporary success of filling some perceived deep lack. If we have no needs or lack to fill (like rock stars or movie stars or sons and daughters of billionaires who have everything they want) we generally take drugs to relieve the emptiness and feel excitement (feel good), or start pursuing some bizarre activity to get some excitement going.

Perhaps this is what happened to Buddha. He was a prince who had everything and thus, having no need to fill, he felt only emptiness. So he wandered into the forest and just sat, for years contemplating the cosmos, and small wild things around him. Just sitting. Doing nothing. I forget how many years, twelve maybe. Then he came back to his palace an enlightened man. Not happy but loving.

In a way you could say Buddha became enlightened by letting go of all of his repressed fear of having no lack to fill. Then only love remained.

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Thanks for elaborating. In a way I'm more confused, but that's o.k. I like reading your teachings and trying to absorb them! Eventually, a light bulb usually comes on!

I get it that love is not a feeling. Could it be that love is also a constellation of choices/actions made in another's best interest?
When we love a person, the planet or a house we take care of it, nurture it, tend to it with concern.

When you tell us to pursue a course of action because of a love of something, rather than be moved by a fear of something, are you saying that the "love" we have for gardening, writing, studying, is really rooted in another sort of fear...primal fear, rather than repressed fear?

Also, did the Buddha perhaps experience *joy & contentment* vs. *happiness?* Is happiness an ephemeral state while joy can be integrated more fully into our being, given the absence of repressed fear?

You say we should choose from our love of something rather than our fear. When I say I love gardening, or I love studying & these pursuits make me "happy" am I just logging into my subcortex? Is joy a more organic, authentic experience than what you are describing as happiness? Could the Buddha have been filled with joy & contment having learned to be loving?