The Monk and The Angel

Our emotions play a key role in our understanding of the truth of a situation. When we are negative, our emotions distort our perception of reality and make it difficult for us to see things clearly. They inject a kind of prejudice in our thinking, which can lead us to make false conclusions about the world, about others and about ourselves.

On the other hand, when our emotions are affirming, they may help us to see things more clearly. Positive emotion can simply be other side of the coin to negative emotion. We may still be as identified but are subject to a positive prejudice. However, positive emotions can also raise us to the level of impartiality where we connect with our inner wisdom and access a deeper understanding of truth.

We need to learn to recognize and manage our negative emotions so that they do not cloud our judgment. And it is the whole gamut of negative emotions that we need to tame; not just rage but also irritation and disappointment; not just fear, but also apprehension and hesitation; not just despair, but also dejection and pessimism. And in parallel we need to cultivate positive emotions: love, compassion, gratitude, empathy, joy, trust, wonder. It’s surprising how broad the spectrum of genuine positive emotions is. They help us to see the world more clearly and to understand truth more deeply.

The Law of Three

The correct operation of the horse carriage and driver is that the driver (intellect) directs the horse (emotions), which in turn pulls the carriage (body). That is how it is supposed to operate, but rarely does. In practice, it is common for the emotional center (horse) to determine the action, dragging the moving center (body) with it while the intellect simply observes and makes excuses. In another situation, the intellect may initiate something but soon ceases to be active force when the emotions become bored or irritated and turn the activity in a different direction or simply stop it in its tracks.

The struggle between the intellect and the emotions requires changes of attitude which will make it possible for the driver (the intellect) to ultimately learn how to control the horse.

The Secondary Impact of Emotions

Negative emotions do not just destroy the harmony of our outer world, they distort our perception of reality. They are a source of lies. Under their sway, we may imagine the worst, suddenly distrust someone, jump to conclusions, make rash decisions, and see only the negative side of a situation. We see the world in a negative light. Such emotions can have a powerful impact on the way we think about the world and about ourselves. Negative emotions breed negative thoughts and beliefs. They make it difficult to see the truth about ourselves and about the world around us.

We may not have appreciated how much the outer world is governed by negative imagination. Consider the whole of the news media. It is awash with negative imagination. It clusters around the burning issues of the day, whatever they might be: climate change, natural disasters, any political issue whatsoever, bad news of any persuasion. Negative imagination enters into people’s minds engendering negative expectations and promoting negative behavior.

In contrast, positive emotions can help us to see things more clearly even if they are low intensity. When we feel happy, peaceful, or loving, we are more likely to be open to new ideas and perspectives. Our view of the world ceases to be an obstacle.

The etymology of the word emotion (ex – motion) implies something that motivates us to take action. When we feel passionate about something, we are more likely to be motivated to learn more about it and to take steps to make a difference. Emotions either help or hinder our search for the truth. This is why it is so important to adjust our attitudes.