Vedana skandha and emotions

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
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Jyotish
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Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Jyotish » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:24 pm

I have heard shinzen young describe emotions as essentially physical sensations. What are they classically defined as? Are they part of vedana skandha. Consider grief yes there are physical sensations associated with what we call Grief but I mean is it really physical like sensing heat or cold or sharp stab from knife. The quality is different?

What is it really?

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Wayfarer
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Wayfarer » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:52 pm

Interestingly the word 'emotion' is derived as follows:

Mid 16th century (denoting a public disturbance): from French émotion, from émouvoir ‘excite’, based on Latin emovere, from e- (variant of ex- ) ‘out’ + movere ‘move’. The current sense dates from the early 19th century.

Whether they're physical - I think emotion also has a sense of the 'movement' of the internal organs. You feel joy 'in your heart' and dread 'in your gut'.

So the word has a similar connotation to 'asava' which can be tranlated as either 'inflow' or 'outflow' 'Asava refers to the mental defilements of sensual pleasures, craving for existence, and ignorance, which perpetuate samsara, the beginningless cycle of rebirth, dukkha, and dying again.'

So 'emotion' and 'asava' not synonyms but they have some meanings in common.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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dzogchungpa
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:04 pm

There's an article by Dreyfus, "An Abhidharmic View of Emotional Pathologies and Their Remedies", that you might find interesting.

You can read a lot of it here: https://books.google.com/books?id=e1ZxmnsIEIQC&pg=PA117

Here's a quote:
So what are some of the Buddhist ideas of emotions? Let me start with a shocker: there are no Buddhist conceptions of emotion in the proper sense of the term. By this statement I do not mean to deny that Buddhism has a lot to say about the affective life, but I do mean to say that the concept of emotion as we know it plays practically no role in the traditional Indian and Tibetan Buddhist discussions of the mind. There is no term in the traditional Buddhist vocabulary that resembles our notion of emotion, and our concept of emotion is not recognized indirectly either. This may surprise, since the notion of emotion seems so self-evident and so basic to our modern ways of understanding ourselves. We may imagine people who do not have exactly the same emotional vocabulary as we do, but it seems hard to conceive of people who do not understand a concept as fundamental as that of emotion. And yet this seems to be the case for Buddhists, for in traditional Indian and Tibetan Buddhist texts there does not seem to be any word that even comes close to our concept of emotion.
If you focus on an object, you are not meditating. - Dudjom Rinpoche

tingdzin
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by tingdzin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:35 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:Here's a quote:


So what are some of the Buddhist ideas of emotions? Let me start with a shocker: there are no Buddhist conceptions of emotion in the proper sense of the term. By this statement I do not mean to deny that Buddhism has a lot to say about the affective life, but I do mean to say that the concept of emotion as we know it plays practically no role in the traditional Indian and Tibetan Buddhist discussions of the mind. There is no term in the traditional Buddhist vocabulary that resembles our notion of emotion, and our concept of emotion is not recognized indirectly either. This may surprise, since the notion of emotion seems so self-evident and so basic to our modern ways of understanding ourselves. We may imagine people who do not have exactly the same emotional vocabulary as we do, but it seems hard to conceive of people who do not understand a concept as fundamental as that of emotion. And yet this seems to be the case for Buddhists, for in traditional Indian and Tibetan Buddhist texts there does not seem to be any word that even comes close to our concept of emotion.
Good quote; we have to be very careful when using Western psychological terminology in translating Buddhist concepts. Guenther makes the same opoint in "From Reductionism to Creativity" in more detail (though with denser language).

Jyotish, next time you experience any type of what we call "emotion", try and see for yourself if it is at all separable from somatic sensation. I think you will find it is not.

Jyotish
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Jyotish » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:13 pm

I don't understand. The article is saying something else right? That somehow there is no just no equivalent in buddhism.

But yes tingdzin, so you would not say it's different in quality than physical sensation? Wow I guess this is something to be experienced. But I wonder you know there are these modern day, quite effective spiritual tools which aim at emotional resolutions and they emphasize the difference between physical and emotional sensation and suggest looking at the emotion to resolve the issue. Say you got a knee pain now they would say what is the emotion behind the knee pain? Resolving the emotion or letting the energy move freely as it is said sometimes will resolve the issue too.

Do you guys see what I am asking? And what the implications of this are?

Adzamaro
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Adzamaro » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:28 pm

Jyotish wrote:What is it really?
As far as i know and understand, "emotion" in buddhism is physical sensation, yes. It's called "hadaya vatthu" - heart base - the sixth sensuous sphere, along side with the eye and forms, ear and sounds and so on.

tingdzin
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by tingdzin » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:37 pm

Jyotish wrote:Wow I guess this is something to be experienced.
Yes, if you sit long enough, an emotion of some kind will arise. As soon as you notice it, decide what it is that makes you label it an "emotion". If anger, then maybe increased heart rate and a sensation of blood in the face (or maybe just a slight tightening of the facial muscles). If love, maybe a sense of gentleness throughout your body and softness in the heart. Whatever the case, if you do not have some somatic reaction, even if only a minor one, how can you say you are experiencing the emotion? And if you try to find omething apart from those physical sensations that can be called "anger" or "love" it will be just an intellectual construction.
Jyotish wrote:But I wonder you know there are these modern day, quite effective spiritual tools which aim at emotional resolutions and they emphasize the difference between physical and emotional sensation and suggest looking at the emotion to resolve the issue. Say you got a knee pain now they would say what is the emotion behind the knee pain?
All physical pain is not emotional, but displaced emotional reactions can cause physical symptoms in unexpected places. If someone whacks you on the knee, you will get a physical pain quite apart from the anger you might feel at the person who did it. Conversely, sometimes apparently physical pain is a result of an mentally-caused set of circumstances that, if properly understood, can be alleviated without external physical treatment. Stress ulcers may be a good example of this. I don't know if knee pain is as clear-cut, but our minds are strange and wonderful, so maybe.

Some Buddhists believe that if one can completely overcome one's mental confusion, then all pain except the purely physical can be dispelled (some might even claim that even the latter can be transmuted so that "pain" is not the same as "suffering", but other Buddhists would disagree with this). Is this the sort of implication you had in mind?

Jyotish
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Jyotish » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:30 pm

tingdzin wrote:. Is this the sort of implication you had in mind?
Yes thank you! Have you heard of EFT (emotional Freedom technique) or The Presence Process. And for some reason I keep encountering many things like these that basically say all discomfort can be healed with energetic correction. So that would be wrong from Buddhist perspective I guess.

What about the argument like I think eckhart tolle would make to say the anger stored in you attracted accident or theam strike in knee in your example? Do you or anyone else have any clue how buddism would respond to such a claim?

Thanks.

tingdzin
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by tingdzin » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:41 pm

Jyotish wrote:Have you heard of EFT (emotional Freedom technique) or The Presence Process


I haven't, but there are a lot of such groups around that choose a catchy name, trademark it, and then create a mystique around a set of commonsense techniques so they can charge big money.
Jyotish wrote:say all discomfort can be healed with energetic correction


Sweeping claims like this should immediately raise red flags. "Energetic correction" is also so nebulous a term it defies real evaluation.
Jyotish wrote:eckhart tolle would make to say the anger stored in you attracted accident or theam strike in knee in your example?
Certainly the way you project yourself through your emotional attitude (and more generally your entire mental attitude) can influence what happens to you. If you walk around angry, for example, then it cannot fail but have an effect on the way you react to the world and the world (other sentient beings) reacts to you. Anger makes you careless and unaware, inviting accidents, and it also invites anger from others, which might well cause them to hit your knee or something else. This is obvious, and Buddhism would never argue against such a statement. Moment-to-moment awareness of one's own mental state is crucial for real Buddhist practice. Most Buddhists, though, would disagree with the idea that all of the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" can be avoided just by manipulating one's own personality and physical body.

There are some esoteric teachings within the Tibetan tradition that deal with the effects that thorough control over one's own energies can have on the world at large, but this is a matter of decades of hard, sustained meditation practice, and I guarantee you you aren't going to learn how to do it through these Human Potential groups.

tingdzin
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by tingdzin » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:45 pm

P.S. I don't mean to discourage you from exploring all the aspects of the mind-body-external world interface, which is truly a fascinating and useful subject. Just beware of inflated claims, too-easy solutions, and people out to pick your wallets.

Jyotish
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Jyotish » Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:03 pm

Thanks tingdzin for the response.

Anyone else heard of the things I mentioned? It seems like because buddha dharma itself has just such fascinating things and deeper things Most Buddhists or at least the advanced one would just focus on their practice Rather than others I'm surprised though that EFT and presence process (Michael brown) are unheard of.

tingdzin
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by tingdzin » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:38 am

Jyotish wrote:It seems like because buddha dharma itself has just such fascinating things and deeper things Most Buddhists or at least the advanced one would just focus on their practice Rather than others
this is it exactly. Once people really get into Buddhism, they usually decide that it is so rich in itself there is no need to pay attention to pale imitations of it.

Jyotish
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Re: Vedana skandha and emotions

Post by Jyotish » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:04 am

It's like you know we want the eight wordly things like money, health etc which we see in these other practices that sound like the dharma in some aspects so they attract us. Sometimes the limitation on the worldly thing is so high we want these or need some improvement with these before we can genuinely intensively practice dharma. And because the teachings don't directly teach you how to earn health or wealth except in vajrayana (but only in advances stages) the other models that promise that and do provide them to some extent have some attraction.

I also realize that although these other systems seem innocuous they do affect the path in the long run because of their different view and practice. For example the modern day mindfulness practice of being indifferent as a witness seems like something that builds dullness and karma for being animal.

Anyways I would be happy to find dharma teachers or systems that directly helped especially to people with swverely limited health and wealth.

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