Emotions as guides

I can take emotions as guides in two ways.

They can be used as a guide for external situations. A situation trigger unpleasant emotions, so I avoid it. Another trigger pleasant emotions, so I seek it out. Used in this way, emotions may be an OK guide in some situations, but certainly not in all.

The other way is to use emotions as guides for noticing beliefs. I notice a compulsive quality around certain emotions, as an impulse to push away or hold onto emotions and the situation triggering them. So I can first shift into allowing experience as is, with kindness, finding myself not as that which resists but as that which (already and always) allows the experience as it is. And I can take the compulsive quality around emotions as an invitation to notice the beliefs behind it, inquire into them, and find what is more honest for me than the initial beliefs.

Exploring it in this way, I may find that any story taken as true is a should. And when it clashes or aligns with my stories of what is or may be, it creates reactive emotions. These reactive emotions have a compulsive quality to them, a compulsion to push away or hold onto certain experiences or the situations triggering them. And there is a shift out of this when experience is allowed as it is, with kindness, and also – more thoroughly – when the beliefs are inquired into and I find what is more honest for me.

There is an infinite richness in these types of explorations.

For instance, one thing that becomes quite clear is how attraction and aversion, when identified with and their viewpoints are taken as absolute truths, create drama and discomfort, and also are two faces of the same impulse. Wanting to hold onto one set of experiences and situations means pushing away other sets of experiences and situations. And also, when attraction and aversion are recognized as belonging to this human self and has infinite causes – from evolution and biology to culture and personal experiences – there is a softening or release of identification with their viewpoints, and a sense of more choices around it, more freedom to act or not act according to these attractions and aversions.

Also, I can explore what happens when I use emotions as guides for relating to external situations. In most cases, it may be OK, no harm is done. In some cases, it can be very helpful – especially when it helps me avoid harmful situations. (Most obviously when attractions and aversions with an evolutionary/biological component kicks in, and it happens in a situation that is similar to situations these impulses developed in, such as getting out of the way of a predator/car, avoiding situations where I am at risk of falling long distances, etc.). And in other situations, it may get me in trouble, especially when I act on reactive emotions created by beliefs.



  • emotions as guides
    • for external situation (not very reliable)
    • as pointer for beliefs, helpful
      • compulsive quality, hold onto/push away emotions or situation
      • first, allow experience as is, w. kindness (shift into)
      • also, take as pointer to belief, notice and inquire into


There is an infinite richness in these types of explorations. For instance, one thing that becomes quite clear is how attraction and aversion – wanting to hold onto or push away experiences or situations triggering them – can

– attraction and aversion
— fine when noticed as part of the personality, not identified with or taken as absolute truths
— creates drama and discomfort when identified with, try to push away/hold onto experiences and situations
— two faces of the same impulse, holding onto one situation means pushing another away, and reverse

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