1). What is a thought ?
Thought is the language of the mind.
We need to have a mental model of the world to make our living. You can imagine mental model as a road map. While road map is not the actual road, map is not a territory, the representation of physical world in our mind is important for us to lead our life. Thought can be based on physical contact of the mind with the world in the form of perception or mental contact with past experience in the form of memory.
Any physical object in the world can be represented in the form of “name (nama), form (rupa) and function (karya). This is stored in memory. For example a fan (name), has form (rupa) with three and a function (karya) of blowing air. In other words, objects in the physical world are represented as name (nama) + form (rupa) + function (karya) in memory. When we see an object, we recognize it from memory based on these attributes – such a recognition is called thought.
Similarly we need to make a decision based on the inputs – say we are going on the road – should I take a right turn or left turn. Again based on memory we take a decision -in the form of thought.
We often go to memory to remember certain past experience in the form of thought. Let us say going to happy experience of going to picnic. The place is stored in memory in the form of name+form+function. Happy experience is again stored as name (happiness) + form (joyful state of me) + function ( activity which led to that). Recollection of this is called thought. Imagining a future scenario say “what happens if I miss train ?” based on past memory is also called thought.
Thoughts need not be just based on experience. It can be based on instincts. For example what will happen if I jump from a building ? Answer for this in the form of thought is not based experience but based on instinct !
In other words, thoughts are based on learning from experience internalized. A new born baby has no thoughts since there is no experience. As we grow up experience and hence develop the ability to think.
Feeling is the language of the body.
Feeling is the experience based on sensory inputs – touch (sparsha), taste (rasa), form (rupa), touch (sparsha) and smell (gandha). Feelings are developed based on stimulus from the external world. Feeling is about like and dislike (raga dvesha).
A new born baby has only feelings and no thoughts. As the baby gains experience baby develops the ability to think. Thinking is the ability to handle external world based on the experiences acquired through sense inputs (feelings)
Good feeling, bad feeling, I like, I dislike … these are labeling done by the mind based on experience. In other words, labeling of feeling is thought.
Thought can create feeling ! Repeated recollection of an event – pleasant/unpleasant can create the feeling in the body. Constant brooding over past incident or imagining about future possibility can create depression getting into a thinking-feeling-thinking cycle which is totally disconnected from physical reality .
We need to break this habit pattern by living in reality using meditation/mindfulness practices.
Emotions stands for energy in motion.
Emotions are prior to thinking. Emotions developed as part of evolution. For example, imagine our ancestor walking in a forest and suddenly a tiger jumps in front of him. Senses perceive the tiger. A feeling develops. Immediate reaction is needed by the ancestor. There is no time to think. Immediately fear arises as emotion. Fear causes bodily reactions like increase in heart beat, sweating preparing him to run or hide or fight. Thus emotions are firs reactions based on the feeling. Thinking comes later.
Following is the sequence for emotion.
1). External Situation ( eg. Tiger appearing) >> 2). Input through sense organs ( feeling) >> 3). Immediate reaction as emotion (Fear) >> 4). changes in the body like heart beat, sweating to fight or hide for purpose of survival >> 5). run for survival >> Think what has happened and learn from the situation.
External stimuli leads to feeling which leads to thinking for a possible response/reaction. Response can be in the form of action. Reaction is in the form of emotion. Emotions can be anger, hatred, jealousy, love, hate, sadness… Emotion is a reaction arising out of thinking/feeling. Emotions result in changes in the bodily states like increasing blood pressure, sweating… which in turn leads to feelings.
We can cultivate the habit of positive feelings like Love, Peace and reduce emotional reactions using meditation practices.
Prabhuji August 28th
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