I, like many others, have a strange relationship to my emotions. They confuse me, annoy me, and sometimes even destroy me (okay, that is dramatic, but sometimes it feels that way). My spiritual paths in Buddhism, depth psychology, Hinduism, New Thought, Anthroposophy, and even atheism have often left me conflicted about the purpose of my emotions and how to relate to them. In attempts to nurture a more integrated approach to them, this weekend I presented at the fourth annual Cosmology of Love Conference hosted by my program at school (Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness). My topic…The Periodic Table of Emotions. Per usual I was awed by the sharp intellect and soft hearts of my fellow classmates, professors, and alumni. And for the first time in a long time I feel more deeply than I ever have before, and I have them to thank. Since being in PCC I have developed a recognition that “bad” emotions actually don’t make people love you less. The community has a profound respect for the shadow side of existence (I even went to talk about depression on the Friday before the conference). So what are these illusive “emotions” that many of us avoid?
For me the path into understanding something involves knowing where the word for it derived as etymology. “Emotion” derives from Latin “emovere” meaning to “move out” or “remove.” Like many original root words they offer insights into how the word created and what it wanted to communicate. Emotions move through us and a a lot of times seem to express and remove something we need to get rid of and must experience it first. I also love playing with anagrams and really like “Tone I Om,” it resonates with me (yes, pun intentional as I’m attempting to lighten up a rather serious post) for many reasons and a lot because in New Age thought emotions simply are expressions of frequencies of energy. Emotion could be felt as E-motion (energy in motion). For those of you with issues in many new age philosophies (myself included), this simplistic definition leaves a lot to be desired. And yet, on some level I feel a part of it to be true. We feel people’s energies and emotions from a distance the way we feel music and sound.
The study of emotions has been an inquiry since the times of Aristotle and the Stoics and the main theories of motivation behind emotion even today are: physiological, neurological, and cognitive. Physiological theories believe responses within the body, such as tightening of muscles or increase heart rate, are responsible for emotions. Neurological idea of emotions proposes that activity within the brain leads to emotional responses as is the case for balancing neurotransmitters to fix emotions. Finally, cognitive theories argue that mental activity plays the essential role in the formation of emotions. I tend towards a different approach shared by Rudolph Steiner who says, “What food is the body, feelings are to the soul.”
In this way, emotions are a metaphysical experience paralleled by biological responses and psychological processes – not caused by them. This more spiritual and less scientific approach allows emotions to be an important part of our lives as they ultimately connect us with our inner experience and expression of the divine as our soul. My inner experience has been influenced by many philosophical traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, science, and even astrology. Within these studies I’ve seen several interesting correlations that boggle and intrigue me. Allow me to explain…it may be somewhat scattered…I apologize, the concepts are still working themselves through me.
For starters, there are nine major emotions in rasas yoga (yoga of working with emotions) and nine planets. I think each planet is associated with one of these emotions, and also a metal (the metal thing isn’t from me, it is out of many traditions).
There are 108 earthly desires in Buddhism that also associate with emotions, and also 108-111 elements in the periodic table of elements. After reading Masaru Emoto’s book several times I see his correlation clearly of emotions and elements. It makes sense to me that our capacity to feel and experience an emotion also correlates to our physical constitution.
He believes in particular that water, made up of Hydrogen and Oxygen, represents the emotions of gratitude and love (respectively). On a life level it brings beauty to the idea that we receive love in the form of oxygen from plants and give them love and joy (I believe as Carbon). According tomany scientists, we have 90% of the elements that make up our world in our bodies. If we look at the most common elements that make up our bodies, planet, and universe it gives us an even greater appreciation for emotions and how they could be associated with the elements.
Most prevalent elements:
Human body: Oxygen, Carbon, and Hydrogen
Planet Earth (in mass): Oxygen, Silicon, and Aluminum
Universe: Hydrogen, Helium, and Oxygen
I agree with Emoto about Oxygen being love and Hydrogen as gratitude. For me, Carbon seems to be joy as it is in living beings on Earth and creates with it a joy of being alive. I haven’t come up with what I think Silicon is, but Aluminum I think represents wisdom or knowledge. It is found in people’s brains with Alzheimers and what could cause us to forget our lives and knowledge. I still have a lot of exploration to do with these ideas…while maybe not academically sound reasoning, it feels true to me and that feels more important. I can’t think my way into emotions (believe me, I’ve tried), for better or for worse I have to feel my way into them.
Emotions confuse me because while I believe we have the capacity to feel all of them, I find there are a few I feel pulled to the most frequently – these being the ones described above such as joy, love, gratitude, and wisdom. This makes sense to me now with an elemental reasoning. We can’t help but want to be who we are and express our truth. Love, gratitude, joy are written into our DNA in the form of the elements making up our physical bodies. It would only seem natural we would possess anatural affinity for them. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “Love is the primal and universal energy…the most tremendous and most mysterious of cosmic forces.” It is fundamental to our bodies, Earth, and entire cosmos. In short, it is our elemental being emotionally and physically.