“The shadows in the early morning don’t tell much. The shadows rest at that time. So it’s useless to gaze very early in the day. Around six in the morning the shadows wake up, and they are best around five in the afternoon. Then they are fully awake.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

Emotions & Feelings

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A few days this thought seeded in me:

emotions are a scent from the past, feelings are aromas from the future

I feel a need to discern, at least for myself, between emotions and feelings (I can think of reasons why, but that may become more clear in the future). The question this seed left in me was: how can I tell the difference between emotions and feelings?

Emotions are intense and demanding. They are extreme – they can suddenly lift me very high or drop me very low. They tend to fill me up and overwhelm me. They want to occupy me completely. They demand attention and they demand it now. They reject reflection and demand immediate action. It is as if they block me out: I become the emotion. They activate mind and make it bounce around considering options, leaving a trail of doubt.

Feelings are soft and subtle. They can be penetrating but not overwhelming … somehow they appear, in a just right intensity, at the edge of my peripheral vision as if to inquire if I am ready for them. If I’m not ready, they go away, they don’t hold a grudge, and if the circumstances are right they appear again. They are not imperative, they generate peace, presence and contentment. They settle in heart, leaving a sense of sweet, clear, vague knowing with a scent of soft confidence.

Emotions erupt from the inside out, consume and burn out wildly. Feelings move gently from the outside in and light a delicate candle that burns slowly and gives good light.

Emotions are social, they seek others, they want to be spoken out, shared, acknowledged and celebrated. Feelings are private and shy, they seek a quiet, undisturbed presence in heart.

The purpose of of emotions seems to be conservation through inhbition. They are an established past meeting an unknown present. They sense change and ask for re-consideration. They ask that what is established not be blindy rejected for an unknown promise. If possible (depending on both past and present) they speak moderately. If unheard they speak louder.

The purpose of feelings seems to be to navigate gracefully into an unknown future. They are stepping stones that appear just in time, forming a path that has not yet been traveled. They are like magical breadcrumbs that show not the way back to a familiar shelter, but a way forward to a new potential.

Confusion seems to live amongst emotions. There is an abundance of not-knowing in feelings, but since they live in heart, they seem to be relatively immune to confusion (which seems to be a capacity of mind). Clarity, not specific, seems to live amongst feelings.

There is a shifting, living relationship between emotions & feelings, (confusion & clarity). An excess of emotions creates an imbalance that leans towards excessive and ineffective action – doing much of little consequence. An excess of feelings creates an immobilizing stillness. Excess emotions create instability outside, excesss feeling create instability inside.

These features are indicators of what is manifesting. I want to be able to recognize when I am emoting from the past and when I am sensing from the future. I want to be able to experience both clearly and know which is which. I want to be held by both: supported by the familiar ground of emotions, levitated by the flickering invitation of feelings.


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