Difference between emotion and spiritual emotion

Dr. Purushothaman
January 13, 2014

What are Emotions (bhaavanaa)

Emotions are our feelings related to our worldly life. They are basically the attitudes of the conscious mind. Our emotions give us happiness or unhappiness. Emotions are related to our little 'i' (physical body, mind, intellect, ego). Hence, in a state of emotion, we identify even more with our 5 senses, mind and intellect. It follows that being highly emotional makes us further entrenched in our worldly existence and increases our awareness about our own existence. That is why being emotional in nature takes us that much away from God.
What is Spiritual emotion (bhaav)
On the other hand spiritual emotion (bhaav) is a state of communion with God. It is related to the sub-conscious mind (chitta). When one's spiritual emotion is awakened, for that time one transcends one's usual state of identification with one's worldly existence. The awareness of one's own existence also reduces. Thus in a state of spiritual emotion one transcends one's little 'i' (the physical body, mind, intellect, subtle ego) identifies with the big 'I' (the soul). Spiritual emotion gives us a spiritual experience of Bliss (Aanand). Bliss is a state of superlative happiness. It is however a state beyond happiness and unhappiness.
How to differentiate spiritual emotion from emotion?

In the case of a highly emotional person, many a time emotion (bhaavanaa) is mistaken for spiritual emotion (bhaav), Whether what one is experiencing is emotion or spiritual emotion can be confirmed only through the medium of active sixth sense or extrasensory perception (ESP) [http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/articles/id/spiritualresearch/spiritualscience/sixthsense] However at an intellectual level we can verify to some extent whether what we are experiencing is just emotion or spiritual experience by checking the following criteria:
Reduction in Ego or 'i'ness: In a state of spiritual emotion there is a marked reduction in our ego. Hence we can check for our ego manifestations as an aid to decide whether we are experiencing normal emotion or spiritual emotion. For example we can check whether we feel ego about the state of spiritual emotion itself while we are going through the experience. However if the spiritual emotion is not sustained, the ego can rise at a later date.
Reduction in body consciousness: During a state of spiritual emotion as one identifies to varying degrees with the big 'I' (the soul), one loses body consciousness to that extent. Hence when one's spiritual emotion is awakened and becomes manifest in the form of any of the eightfold manifestations like tears of Bliss, etc., one does not feel self-conscious. This is so even though one may be shy or reserved and his spiritual emotion is awakened in the presence of many strangers.
Experience of Preeti or love without expectations: Spiritual emotion is basically a state of experiencing God within ourselves and in others. Also in this state our awareness about ourselves is low. Hence in this state one experiences love without expectations for others.
Cool tears: If the manifestation of our spiritual emotion is in the form of tears, they are cool. On the other hand tears resulting from normal emotion are warm to the touch.
Type of crying: Crying resulting from emotion, especially of grief can be of the sobbing kind. Crying following spiritual emotion is of the silent variety.
Feeling after the state: Again, as spiritual emotion is a state of communion with God, even after coming out of that state one experiences vestiges of the identification with the big 'I'. This can be experienced in the form of reduction in pettiness in thinking, stability, increase in spiritual maturity, increase in intellectual conviction about spiritual practice and God-realization, etc.

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