In the practical-philosophical categorization, where does the emotional fit in?

by Chaitanya CharanMarch 15, 2017

Anwser Podcast


Duration: 4 minutes 38 seconds

Transcribed by: Nikhil Fernandes

Question: In the practical-philosophical categorisation, where does the emotional fit in?

There is the material and the spiritual. Roughly we can equate the practical with the material and the philosophical with the spiritual. In real life things cannot be so rigidly differentiated. For example, if a teacher is giving a class, at the practical level we have a microphone, a speaker system and so on. The teacher must take care of his throat and ensure he can deliver the lecture orally. If he has a weak throat, he may take medicine to ensure he is able to deliver the lecture. The philosophical part is what the teacher will speak about. Even if the teacher has a healthy throat they might speak nonsense. Thus, the philosophical part is what the teacher speaks, and the practical part is how they speak it and the tools required for it.
The emotional may be related to the philosophical or to the practical. The subtle mind is the link between the soul and the body. Whatever emotions arise, they may originate from the body or from the soul. For example, when someone goes to the temple, they may observe the deities and think that they are very beautiful. Thus, some devotional emotion comes from their heart – from their soul down. On the other hand, a person can go to the temple and think – there’s so much woodwork here, the sound system seems expensive and might think that the temple seems to be very wealthy. There are people who visit temples and see everything except Krishna there. Here the emotion is coming from the material to the mental. It is not coming from the spiritual at all. In this way the emotions in the mind may come from the spiritual or the material. There is a third source of emotions as well – the past impressions of the mind.

Therefore, in the present we can have three different sources of emotions: (i) physical stimuli (ii) mental memories and (iii) spiritual stimuli.

If you try to get too deep into the analysis of where the emotions are coming from, it can be quite paralysing. We should rather focus on where the emotions are taking us. If an emotion is favourable for bhakti we should use it, if it is not favourable for bhakti we should avoid it – anukulasya sankalpah pratikulyasya varjanam. For example, if a teacher is giving a class and somebody asks an arrogant question, the teacher may become angry which may be warranted if the person is speaking foolishly. But if that anger is going to alienate the person and the audience then the teacher is better off restraining their anger.

Where did the teacher’s anger come from? Did it arise because the person was behaving in an unreasonable way? Or was it because the teacher was insecure and wanted their authority to be unchallenged? In the heat of the moment it is very difficult to analyse the source of the anger. It may be done afterwards with introspection to learn about oneself. Normally in this situation one should focus on where the emotion will take them. In the case of the teacher if it’s going to alienate people, it is better for the teacher to stay calm.
To summarize, emotions can arise from either practical (material) platform or philosophical (spiritual) platform. It is more important for us to recognize where these emotions take us rather than where from these originate. Analysis on the source of emotion can be done afterwards when doing introspection.

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Chaitanya Charan

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