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Firstly, this question is related to this stack because during the mindfulness meditation we are told to be aware of our passing thoughts and emotions.

I was going through a video that said that 'thoughts create emotions' but I disagree to this, Many times I am engulfed by emotions first, like fear, anxiety, worry, and insecurity and I scan through my mind and I have not had any particular thought, the emotion is right there without any reason.

Then I do some mindfulness meditation to deal with that pure emotion. So, am I right that there can be pure emotions to deal with in meditation without thoughts?

Broadening the question I would really like to ask, what's the relation between thoughts and emotions? How, where, and when do they get related to each other and influence each other?

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  • I guess in this question you're equating "thoughts" with "reasons" -- maybe "reasoning", and maybe (which may be what @7years's answer is implying) "words". Is that what you're asking? Also might it help to quote, to reference, the text that you're asking about (instead of paraphrasing it)?
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 12:34
  • I wanted to get across that it's not taught like that 'thought creates emotion' but it's not a bad question. It's related to what Chris says, reasoning/thinking, feeling/emotion, these words are difficult to pin down and are open to interpretation lest otherwise specified.
    – user23681
    Commented May 8, 2022 at 22:41

2 Answers 2

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Thus have i read

"Now, when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact.[1] When there is a delineation of contact, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of feeling. When there is a delineation of feeling, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of perception. When there is a delineation of perception, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of thinking. When there is a delineation of thinking, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of being assailed by the perceptions & categories of objectification.

"When there is the ear...

"When there is the nose...

"When there is the tongue...

"When there is the body...

"When there is the intellect, when there are ideas, when there is intellect-consciousness, it is possible that one will Madhupindikasuttam mn18

Sujato's translation with pali

Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. What you feel, you perceive. What you perceive, you think about. What you think about, you proliferate. What you proliferate about is the source from which a person is beset by concepts of identity that emerge from the proliferation of perceptions. This occurs with respect to sights known by the eye in the past, future, and present.

Cakkhuñcāvuso, paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇam, tiṇṇam samgati phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, yam vedeti tam sañjānāti, yam sañjānāti tam vitakketi, yam vitakketi tam papañceti, yam papañceti tatonidānam purisam papañcasaññāsamkhā samudācaranti atītānāgatapaccuppannesu cakkhuviññeyyesu rūpesu.

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal? There being 'I am,' there comes to be 'I am here,' there comes to be 'I am like this' ... 'I am otherwise' ... 'I am bad' ... 'I am good' ... 'I might be' ... 'I might be here' ... 'I might be like this' ... 'I might be otherwise' ... 'May I be' ... 'May I be here' ... 'May I be like this' ... 'May I be otherwise' ... 'I will be' ... 'I will be here' ... 'I will be like this' ... 'I will be otherwise.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal.

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external? There being 'I am because of this (or: by means of this),' there comes to be 'I am here because of this,' there comes to be 'I am like this because of this' ... 'I am otherwise because of this' ... 'I am bad because of this' ... 'I am good because of this' ... 'I might be because of this' ... 'I might be here because of this' ... 'I might be like this because of this' ... 'I might be otherwise because of this' ... 'May I be because of this' ... 'May I be here because of this' ... 'May I be like this because of this' ... 'May I be otherwise because of this' ... 'I will be because of this' ... 'I will be here because of this' ... 'I will be like this because of this' ... 'I will be otherwise because of this.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external.

"Thus there are 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal and 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external.

These are called the 36 craving-verbalizations. Thus, with 36 craving-verbalizations of this sort in the past, 36 in the future, and 36 in the present, there are 108 craving-verbalizations. Tanhasuttam Craving An4.199

As to your question;

Is it true that its always thoughts that creates emotions?

It makes me think of a baby that does not yet speak a language but feels pleasant & unpleasant sensations and is emotive.

For even the thought ‘self-identification’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would self-identification view arise in it, even though a latent tendency to self-identification view lies latent within it? Even the thought ‘dhammas’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would uncertainty about dhammas arise in it, even though a latent tendency to uncertainty lies latent within it? Even the thought ‘habits’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would grasping at habits & practices arise in it, even though a latent tendency to grasping at habits & practices lies latent within it? Even the thought ‘sensuality’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would sensual desire for sensuality arise in it, even though a latent tendency to sensual passion lies latent within it? Even the thought ‘beings’ doesn’t occur to a stupid baby boy lying on its back, so from where would ill will for beings arise in it, even though a latent tendency to ill will lies latent within it? Mn64

As i understand it, as an example if child is abused they don't have the language to name the experience as to think about it in those terms but they will know that it wasn't pleasant and will recognize & classify [remember as unpleasant] it for future reference if mind is developed sufficiently.

Language is then an evolution of this ability to recognize & classify in mind as to manipulate [communicate with] the environment as to avoid pain & gain pleasure.

Added;

"But what, dear sir, is the cause of envy & stinginess, what is their origination, what gives them birth, what is their source? When what exists do they come into being? When what doesn't exist do they not?"

"Envy & stinginess have dear-&-not-dear as their cause, have dear-&-not-dear as their origination, have dear-&-not-dear as what gives them birth, have dear-&-not-dear as their source. When dear-&-not-dear exist, they come into being. When dear-&-not-dear are not, they don't."

"But what, dear sir, is the cause of dear-&-not-dear, what is their origination, what gives them birth, what is their source? When what exists do they come into being? When what doesn't exist do they not?"

"Dear-&-not-dear have desire as their cause, have desire as their origination, have desire as what gives them birth, have desire as their source. When desire exists, they come into being. When desire is not, they don't."

"But what, dear sir, is the cause of desire, what is its origination, what gives it birth, what is its source? When what exists does it come into being? When what doesn't exist does it not?"

"Desire has thinking as its cause, has thinking as its origination, has thinking as what gives it birth, has thinking as its source. When thinking exists, desire comes into being. When thinking is not, it doesn't."

"But what, dear sir, is the cause of thinking, what is its origination, what gives it birth, what is its source? When what exists does it come into being? When what doesn't exist does it not?"

"Thinking has the perceptions & categories of objectification[1] as its cause, has the perceptions & categories of objectification as its origination, has the perceptions & categories of objectification as what gives it birth, has the perceptions & categories of objectification as its source. When the perceptions & categories of objectification exist, thinking comes into being. When the perceptions & categories of objectification are not, it doesn't." Dn21

Now, craving is dependent on feeling, seeking is dependent on craving, acquisition is dependent on seeking, ascertainment is dependent on acquisition, desire and passion is dependent on ascertainment, attachment is dependent on desire and passion, possessiveness is dependent on attachment, stinginess is dependent on possessiveness, defensiveness is dependent on stinginess, and because of defensiveness, dependent on defensiveness, various evil, unskillful phenomena come into play: the taking up of sticks and knives; conflicts, quarrels, and disputes; accusations, and lies dn15

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I was going through a video that said that 'thoughts create emotions' but I disagree to this, Many times I am engulfed by emotions first, like fear, anxiety, worry, and insecurity and I scan through my mind and I have not had any particular thought, the emotion is right there without any reason.

Notice the conventional terms we use in our daily life don't always mean the same thing with the Buddhist terms. For example, the conventional sense of "feeling" involves a lot more than the feeling/Vedana in the Five Aggregates. The expression "you hurt my feeling" imply feeling as carrying an emotional tone, while the Vedana in the Five Aggregates is just the bare sensational registration of 3 basic tones: painful, pleasant, and neutral. So it's important to distinguish what's meant conventionally versus what's meant in terms of the Buddhist Khandhas. Conventional "thought" involves a mixed bag of everything including Vedana, Sanna, Sankhara, and Vinnana, while the Dhamma's lingo separates it out into bare sensation/Vedana, perception/labeling/identification/Sanna, volitional/mental-formation/Sankhara, and awareness/cognition/Vinnana. So, to prevent any confusion, always go back to the terms as defined in the Five Aggregates and filter out any "noise" that might be present in conventional language.

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