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Definitions - Grief-Feelings-Emotions

Excerpt from March 18, 1978 Workshop in D.C.*
(*Audience participation is in parentheses--notations in brackets have been added for clarification )

We join the tape with a question from someone in the audience

(Can we go back a bit. I'm confused. See if I got it right. You're saying that anger, guilt, fear and insecurity; well, I know my dog shows all these characteristics)

The dog is domesticated and gets frustrated in it's urge to be non-disturbed.

(You can see this in wild situations. I saw it in Africa. They all go through these emotional upheavals. You're saying that once we don't have these flight/fight…..)

That we're not trying to be non-disturbed like the animal is……..We're free to experience.

(You're saying that in today's culture we don't do a fight/flight kind of thing.)

That doesn't work very well, does it?

(It's not really the emotions, it's the fact that we can't express those the way animals do.)

They are even destructive to the animal because they all die in seven, eight or fifteen years because they can't always act it out. If you could always "act out" all your frustrations [you'd be in a balanced state]

but you have good manners to live with, don't you? You have customs to live with. You have "what will people think" to live with.

So if you are very angry, you haven't killed anybody in years, have you? But you have been angry a few times.

(And you'd like to kill them.)

You have B [B side of four dual basic urges], which inhibits you and says, "You'll get in jail." Or "It's bad or wrong." So you end up with conflict. Now if the animal over in Africa wants to kill, it kills. You have an inhibition and possibly your dog does, if you've domesticated it well enough. When you get the inhibition, it means a conflict. You're all prepared to fight or run, but do you do either one, or do you work it all out inside your head and the poor body. Does that answer your question?

(So that's why you say we're not designed to have emotions.)

We're designed to use the cerebrum up here to get around it. In other words, we can be diplomats today instead of fighters.

(We get angry with somebody, and then because we're observing ourselves, we see that we're angry and we report this.)

Let's say you go express some violent physical activity like take a wet towel and beat the side of the bathtub. Then you'll feel better, ok?

(Along with recognizing…..)

Along with recognizing that you can't afford it. I state it simply that I cannot afford emotions. I flat don't have the energy, the reserve strength in the body, nor the money to afford emotions. When I know I can't afford something, I don't buy it. I just let 'em alone.

(I heard you say once, Bob, that grief was not an emotion.)

Grief is a feeling. A feeling of a loss; and if it's kept clean, it heals very shortly. If it is not clean, it doesn't heal. Emotion by our definition is that which you have when you are disappointed, feel hurt, look for blame, and you come up with anger, guilt, fear and insecurity--everything else is a feeling.

Now you have a feeling at the loss of a loved one, that's grief. Now if it's left clean, it heals very rapidly like any cut or wound on you. It's a wound. I don't need to go away today, at this moment. It will go away if it's healed. Now if you make it dirty by blaming somebody for the loss, or you blamed yourself you made a "dirty" wound. That added emotion in it. When you put emotion in grief, you make it dirty. Dirty wounds don't heal, they keep on.

(Like guilt or something.)

Oh yes, like, "If I'd only done so and so," or "If so and so hadn't done so and so," or "If I had the right doctor," or "If I had only taken them to so and so place." That's making it dirty. That's putting emotions in the wound.

(Along that line, the feeling of loss creates sadness.)

Creates a feeling of loneliness or sadness or missing or vacancy--we'll say it's a wound, but not emotion.

(So are we converting grief to an emotion when we cry at a loss?)

No, anymore than you would be converting it to an emotion when you cry when you see a beautiful sunset or listen to horses run.

(We feel a need to cry.)

Go ahead and do it. That's just a deep feeling, isn't it? You have deep feelings about a lot of things. Some of them are beautiful and some are not. I've had tears before because of music, haven't you? I didn't make an emotion out of it.

(Then if we feel a need to cry and do not do that…..)

Oh, then we're trying to inhibit it and we've made an emotion because we're caught in "what will people think" and we're fearful of crying. "Everybody will think I'm a sissy if I cry over sunset or a beautiful lady or whatever."

(So my question is if we stifle the cry, then are we also aiding the disintegration of ourselves.)

Oh yeah. You're inhibiting out of fear. Some people think, "here I'm a grown person and I'm letting out tears." I don't want them to see how weak I am.

(When you're in the present and there are two people who are angry and expressing anger at each other; and you feel uncomfortable, is it always that you are identifying [with the anger or with them], or is it…..)

No, it's just an unpleasant thing to be around. It's like being around a loud noise or accident. When I'm around two people and they're fighting, I pull a "Hank Snow"--"I'll be a'movin' on." I have no business there.

(Suppose you're in a car going somewhere and you can't move on.)

Well, I could always request they stop at the next corner and let me out. My usual thing is to tell a story and get them laughin' and they'll forget about it. You see I like to distract anger in people. So I can make a contribution to a pleasant mood. I see something interesting over there and I say, "Hey, look over there." You can distract them some way, if you have to be with them.

(If you're not doing…..)

If there's no other way, just sit there and see what a joke it is, ok?

(Could that be disintegrating to you if you don't look at it any different way.)

You mean if you side with one or the other of them as being "right". Yes that would get you caught up in it. It's very easy to get caught in those things, unless you see you can't afford them and you want to get out.

(As you would define an emotion, are there just four emotions?)

There are many subdivisions of anger, guilt fear and insecurity. There's jealousy, hate, etc., but they are all one form of anger, guilt, fear and insecurity which are the basic ones. There's a jillian subdivisions if we wanted to go to all the synonyms.

(Do you make a distinction between feeling and emotion?)

Yes, very much so. Feeling is all the natural states that one comes up on without being disappointed.

(What about self-pity?)

Self-pity is just another way of having an emotion of anger or guilt, is it not? See that's not a natural feeling. Feeling sorry for yourself because you felt disappointed, hurt, and now you're mad at me; but you don't want to express it that way, so you tell me how much of a victim you are and how pitiful you are. It's a nice way of saying you're angry with me. You feel sorry for yourself because of the way I treated you. So it's another form of anger.

(Are you making a distinction between good feelings and bad feelings?)

We don't call them "good and bad". Emotions we are not equipped to have. We can only have them if we have set up an ideal such as the four dual basic urges [refer to that page on this web site]. We have been disappointed in it and then we have those things that are referred to as emotions.

(Whenever you use the term emotions, it's to imply……)

It's one of those things we can't afford--it's destructive. Those are guilt, fear, insecurity or some synonym for one of those four.

(What about when you use the word feelings.)

Feelings--I'm talking about what we have everyday about all the things we come in contact with. We have a feeling about everything. I feel I like or dislike. If I sit down to read a menu in a restaurant, I like that, I feel this would be tasty to me, I feel this would not be. So I have a feeling about that.

I have a feeling about buildings I look at that building and I like it--those I don't like, some appeal to me, or they don't appeal. Everything has a feeling because X only responds to the feeling.

Emotion is a feeling, but it is a "false feeling" brought "on" by having a false purpose of existence. So, they are called emotions. I try not to invent a new word. I don't classify those as good or bad; I say those we classify as emotions, I simply cannot afford--no matter what. I don't have enough money, energy, time or anything to spend on emotions. They are unnecessary for us to have, and they are stressful to the humanoid organism. It is unnecessary to have them.

(other side of tape)

The thought [choosing how I want to see things] is followed by an action; the thought and the action are followed by a feeling which then is experiencing. If we don't do that, we have a lot of missed opportunities at what you might call "living."

(Psychologists and Psychiatrist are in the business of helping others gain insight into their behavior. Would you say that they are helping others to see "what is", or maybe "what was"; or is this just another method of self improvement?)

Basically the psychiatrist and the psychologist are working very hard to get the person to be able to function better in the society and the framework of the society in which they live. Now the society and the framework of the society we "live in" is basically to gain the most success and the least disturbance possible. So [the unconscious purpose] to gain as much pleasure, comfort, attention and approval as one can and escape as much pain, being ignored, rejected, disapproved of, and inferiority. The psychiatrist is trained--I've been along the road--to assist the person to function with the greatest amount of comfort and pleasure and the least amount of pain. It tries to get the person to tolerate the pain. There is not any idea in basic psychology and psychiatry of the person being transformed into a different purpose of being; but in order to find a more grown-up method, or more rational method of gaining the four dual basic urges and escaping the escape side. It does a very worthwhile job, ok?

(Emotions, of anger, guilt, fear, are destructive, what is constructive? How do we work to achieve the positive state of consciousness?)

We've talked about that considerably in the last couple of days that emotions are something we're not equipped to handle--anger, guilt, fear, insecurity, etc. They are there due to the state of having the purpose of living to be non-disturbed as an ideal. When we are disappointed, fail to achieve it; we then feel hurt, and look for blame. When we find blame, we will then experience anger, guilt, fear and insecurity which are stressful because we are not designed to have them.

The constructive thing, of course is a feeling, not an emotion. If you are in a state of thankful, joyful, pleased or if you want to use another word, "happy" which means there is nothing you're trying to change and that things are like you enjoy. Then you are in a constructive state. There is no conflict within the person. Sometimes a person has a very delightful state today and a little thought jumps up and says, "What if you lose it?" That then can get us off on a tangle. But we can have a state of being thankful.

Now basically we talked about transformation yesterday where one could have a new purpose of living--a purpose where one was merely being a good guest at this beautiful estate. That depends on seeing things differently. When you use that as a purpose, there is no conflict, struggle, no resistance, no interference; and consequently, no stress. In that state the body isn't disintegrating; in fact it may be that some of the statements made in various teaching works that "Life Everlasting" is entirely within the realm of possibility could come into being.

So, I would say that being constructive was to be seeing things in an entirely different way, probably more nearly to "what they are" where one would experience joy, peace, thankfulness, etc. As long as one is in anger, fear, guilt, and insecurity, one is in a destructive state; and that state can only come into being when we have firmly set up as my truth that the only purpose of living is to be non-disturbed and I have been disappointed in it which "will be" frequently because there will be a challenge. The challenge is to the "non-disturbed" state; but that doesn't mean I have to be disturbed, because if I'm free to experience whatever arises (not according to an ideal) then there isn't any disturbance anyway. There's just a few little challenges to do something here and there.

….later on……..

(Would you discuss what one "should" do to accept a hurtful condition such as the passing of a loved one.)

I don't know what you should do.

Well, first off, I would flat admit that I got wounded. I had a loss and it hurts. I would keep that hurt clean. It would be like a wound if I got cut. I would not say, "Well I didn't get hurt."--I did. It's a hurt. It will, obviously, heal. It will heal very shortly; but I don't expect it to heal today. So if there was a loved one, and I had that loss, I would hurt. I hurt very much, ok?

But I would not allow the wound to be dirty, such as "If only so and so had been done," or "If I had not done so and so, this wouldn't have happened," or "If I had only driven more careful--whatever," or "If I would have treated this person different." Then we would have a wound that would be a very dirty wound and they don't heal.

The natural wound of a loss of a loved one does heal and heals in very reasonable time.

I have something that I am very thankful for. Once a year, if I can be located by telephone, there is a dear couple down in Mobile, Alabama who has called me on the anniversary of their son's death for the last 20 years. The little boy was playing in the car, Daddy was going out to get in the car, and the other kid pushed something and the car rolled backward. One little boy fell out and the car rolled over his head and killed him--a little boy about 4 or 5 years old. These parents, whom I knew fairly well, came around to see me; and they had a very dirty wound.

They were saying to themselves, "If they had only done this," If they had only done that." They were loaded down with great burdens of guilt and a very dirty wound at this loss. I worked with them until they saw the fallacy of their self-incriminations and they both got out of it. The wound did heal. Ever since that time, they do call to say thank you because the wound is healed and that anniversary passed last week. They were on the phone and we had a nice long conversation and they, among other things, again thanked me. But there are no more self-incriminations; the wound is long since healed. They still remember enough, though, that they like to say thank you about that one because they were well on the way to having an un healing wound for life.

(What advice did you give them.)

I didn't give them any advice. We just talked about the nature of things. This was a "loss", and nothing nor nobody was to blame. They finally understood that. It took a few hours. I couldn't do it in one minute. It wasn't advice; it was how do we see things--and really looking at it.