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Emotions Are Unsorted Thoughts

Majid Ali, M.D.

Emotions and feelings are unsorted thought. I anticipate many challenges to this statement. The first time this thought arose, I myself found it discomfiting. The words are simple but they call into questions many prevailing assumptions about the human condition. This idea is likely to raise many eyebrows because at its core departs from the prevailing notions of emotions and feelings. The designation of emotions and feelings as unsorted (unexamined) thoughts, and integration of all three into one continuum deconstructs many profitable structures in the fields of theology, psychology, and psychiatry. Yet, as I explain in this article, I paves the the way for a life of reason and logic based on observable phenomena of the natural order. I will show enormous amounts of human suffering could have been avoided throughout recorded human history if people sought to lives of reason lived with keen observations of the observable, rather than engage in violent and virulent conflicts of race, religion, and regional dominance. History is clear on one matter: all wars were waged because cults of craven men fanned the feelings of anger and aroused destructive emotions among their minions. Imagine how different things might have been if men, women, and children lived lives of reason, recognizing the feeling-emotion-thought continuum as an integral whole in which feelings could not be separated emotions, nor emotions from thought. Only if destructive feelings and emotions were seen as unsorted thoughts, which required sorting out and advancement to sorted thoughts.

The Emotion-Feeling-Thought Continuum

I present three sets of circumstances that illustrate my core assertion at a basic level: (1) the case of feelings of a 16-year-old girl at a prom; (2) emotions of grandparents at the first sight of their first grandson; and (3) the anger of a hungry man.

First, at a prom dance, a 16-year-old girl experiences feelings of being ignored or not noticed properly at a 116-year-old boy looking at or not looking at her. Twenty years later, at a reunion, she has no specific feelings when sees that boy (the a 36-year-old man) looking or not looking at her. Why? Because, at 16 her feelings were unsorted thoughts and at 36 years those unsorted thoughts were sorted out and matured into clear thoughts.

Second, some years Talat, my wife and I drove from new York to Boston to see our first grandson. I remember that drive was filled with emotions which peaked when we first laid eyes on newborn Kadin, our first grandson. If we Kadin had not been born then and instead we heard on the radio that a Massachusetts senator had a baby born that day, we would not have experienced those emotions. Why? Because starting from the day we first heard that our daughter-in-law was expecting, we thought about the day the baby would be born and how happy the family would be. The arrival of a new member in the family brings thoughts of continuity, not only of the family but, in a broader context, of the human species. We thought about many, many things, as all grandparents do about the expected first grandchild. So, the high emotions at Kadin's birth in reality were unsorted thoughts, which were bundled at the first sight of the newborn into an energetic state of the brain and heart that was measurably different that at other times. The news of the birth of some senator's baby would not have triggered any emotions because there would have been no trains of prior thoughts that would bundle into emotions.

Third, anger is recognized as strong emotion. Now consider this: Hungry lions are very angry lions, most hungry men are not angry men. Within minutes of hogging a kill, the lions are the calmest things in a savanna, until the time they miss some ballistic charges on their prey, become tired, hungry, and angry again. Even when some hungry men become angry, they usually realize after the next meal that their anger was uncalled for. I do not know about lions but I know that men who take a path of reason, reflection, and enlightenment do not become angry when they are hungry. How does that happen? Because anger on hunger is state of gambled  and unsorted thoughts. Reason, reflection, and enlightenment turn unsorted (unexamined) thoughts into sorted (examined) thoughts.

Anger and Un-Anger

Most angry people learn this early. In their "unangry" moments they recognize the futility of anger and the hurt it causes. Yet, they allow anger to hijack their reason and common decency? Why? Because anger comprises unsorted thoughts. With passing time, the experiences that feed emotional states of anger cease to do so for people who reflect on the nature of their anger. Unfortunately, many angry people are unwilling or unable to allow unsorted thoughts of anger to evolve into sorted thoughts of self-compassion and finally to compassion for others.

As I look back at my life, this clearly has been the case of all experiences which I (and others around me) considered as emotional but looking back were in reality ill-considered and unsorted thoughts.

Tears Are Soul's Sweat

For several years I have considered tears to be Souls' Sweat. Tears are regarded as visible signs of intensely negative emotions. My visual of Soul's Sweat turns them into the soul's strife for enlightenment, self-compassion and compassion for others. This may not be dismissed as trivial play on words. On hundreds of occasions when my patients' eyes brimmed with tears, I offered them an image of Soul's Sweat and within moments saw their faces first soften and then blossom, their cheeks still wet with their Soul's Sweat. I ask the readers to try it sometimes, for themselves and for their loved ones.

It is amazing how healing the un-healing emotions that lead to tears can morph into images of profound healing with "Soul's Water."

Why Redefine Emotions?

Psychologists consider an emotion to be a subjective and conscious experience that is associated with what they designate to be  a "psychophysiological" state with mental and biological responses. They associate emotion with "reciprocally influential with mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation." They now recognize that emotions also involve hormones, neurotransmitters (oxytocin, serotonin,  noradrenaline, cortisol, GABA, dodopamine, and others). None of this, of course, reflects on my assertion that emotions and feelings are unsorted thoughts, since biological responses are integral to all three forms of senses, perceptions, and states.

To elaborate my core point of this essay, below I consider the following four case studies. Each of them clearly reveals the true cost of failing to recognize unsorted and un-examined thoughts for what they truly are and dismissing them as emotions or feelings, which require sympathetic  understanding in some theological or psychological sense. This is as relevant for those who create conditions that foster unsorted thoughts and accept them as defensible emotions or feelings as well as for those who succumb to such conditions of jumbled thoughts.

1. A murderer at a Texas Buddhist temple 

2. Bin-Ladin and his Jihadis

3. George Bush and His Weapons of Mass Destruction

4. Adolph Hitler and his Minions

A Murderer at a Buddhist temple

In September 2013, Aaron Alexis, a Texas Buddhist and former Navy reservist killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard. He was then shot dead by the police. For some years, he prayed and did volunteer work at a Buddhist temple called Wat Busayadhammavanaram Meditation Center. The murders, of course, do not reflect on Bhuddism, a rich philosophic tradition of peace and enlightenment. But is there something relevant here to my subject? My point: Aaron Alexis lived a life of unsorted thoughts and the emotional state in which murdered 12 people was the culmination of those unsorted (un-examined) thoughts which his hours of meditation did not prevent. Could some clear thinking combined with spiritual work have prevented the murders?

Aaron Alexis's case, of course, is unfortunately all too common. There have been thousands of Timothy McWays. Could some sorted (clear) thinking might have led him to true self-compassion and compassion to others and saved the lives of their victims? I consider this crucial question in light of the remaining three case studies.

Bin-Ladin and His Jihadis

Bin-Ladin was a charismatic individual who aroused uneducated young men to such intensity of emotions and feeling that was enough to make make them kill innocent people. What is the true nature of the phenomenon in which charisma is used to move people, then use them as unthinking beings to serve the charismatic leader's designs, no matter how dark? Do those driven by feelings and emotions by charismatic speakers know that their  faculty of reason (ability to observe the observable to advance knowledge and understanding) is being hijacked by someone? Do we succumb to charisma by reason and clear thoughts or by unsorted (un-examined) thoughts, which are seen as feelings or emotions?

Do I need to write anymore about the anger and rage (feelings and emotions) of such men being clearly jumbled and unsorted thoughts - of both groups of young murderers and old murder-provocateurs.

George Bush and His Weapons of Mass Destruction

The case of Iraq War waged with the deception of weapons of mass destruction might be seen as different from Bin-Ladin's jihadis. If it is different, it is only quantitatively different, not qualitatively. In 2013, ten years after the war, Iraq often becomes a smoldering graveyard. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "Shock and Awe" and George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" were  moments of feelings of great achievement and unforgettable emotional peaks for them. For the rest of the world, they were unsorted thoughts that unleashed continuing horror.

Adolph Hitler and His Murderers

How did Hitler ignited the unspeakable hate against Jews among his countrymen? What were the feelings and emotions of tens of thousands of Germans who were moved, then controlled by Hitler's demonic dreams. How was Stalin able to create feelings and emotions among Russians that drove to do his biddings? Do I need to raise any more such questions to further support my assertion that feelings and emotions are unsorted thoughts?

Related Philosophy Essays

Below is a list of my other essays of the subject of the healing philosophy. These essays are based on materials included in the twelve volumes of my textbook, The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine:

* Absence of Freedom of Thought

* Emotions Are Unsorted Thoughts

* Anger Is Unsorted Thoughts

* Disappointment Is Unsorted thoughts

* Mental Health

* Anxiety?

* What Is Anxiety?

* Stress - Physiology and Pathology

* What Is Stress?

* Seven for Stress

* Nature of Fear

* Be Your Own Healer

* Be-Aware Living

* BeWare Living

* Nutrition for Health and Healthful Aging

The Aristotle Principle

The Darwin Principle

* George Putin, George Obama - A Dress Rehearsal for the Iran Thing

* Why Do Men Go to War?

Ethical Science for Civilized Medicine

* Science, Health, and Healing

There Are No Controversies

Science and An Angry Colleague

The Father of Unthinking Medicine

When Should a Doctor Not Listen to the Patient?

A Letter to President Obama

* Thought Reform In Health CareCirca 2011

 

 

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