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Studies in Instincts and Emotions

by Swami Sivananda

ear accompanies the instinct of self-preservation. Man is afraid of impending danger. He tries to escape and save his life. Anger accompanies the instinct of combat. Man is aggressive and pugnacious. Lust or sexual excitement accompanies the reproductive instinct. Man copulates and generates. Feeling of loneliness accompanies the herding instinct. Man wants company and lives among groups of people. Man wants to possess or own and enjoy. He manifests the hoarding instinct.

Man tries for his self-preservation. This is the preservation instinct. He wants to hoard money for sensual enjoyment. This is the hoarding instinct. He wants to live in his own community. This is the herding instinct. He wants to mate and reproduce. This is the reproductive instinct. He is aggressive and pugnacious. This is the instinct of combat.

Feeling always accompanies thinking. Feeling is the sense of touch. It is perception of objects by touch. It is consciousness of pleasure or pain. It is tenderness, emotion, sensibility, sentimentality. It is opinion as resulting from emotion. It is receiving an impression. It is affection, sensation, experience, sympathy, love, etc. It is throbbing, thrill, shock, agitation, quiver, flutter, tremor, pathos. It is ardour, zeal, enthusiasm, cordiality. Deep sense, glow, fervour, earnestness, eagerness, ecstasy, inspiration, cordiality, sympathy, love, affection, tenderness and aesthetics are lofty sublime feelings. They make you divine.

Aesthetics is the feeling of beauty in objects and fine arts. Vehemence, fanaticism, passion, excitability, agitation, flutter, flurry, ruffle, perturbation, are low Rajasic-Tamasic feelings. They are Asuric and diabolical in nature. They throw you down in low births. Cultivate sublime feelings and attain divinity.

All emotions come under the category of Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes). When the feeling is intense and has a big volume, it becomes an emotion. It is one of the three groups of the phenomena of mind. An emotional man is easily excited. Bengalis are highly emotional. A man of emotional temperament is fit for the practice of Bhakti Yoga. Emotions are of two kinds viz., high and low. Bhakti is a higher, divine emotion. Low surging emotions should be stilled and transformed by the practice of Pranayama, Japa, Sattvic food and Vichara. Higher emotions should be cultivated by Satsanga, Japa, Kirtan and study of Bhagavatam, etc. Raga, Dvesha, lust, hatred, pride, jealousy, are low emotions of the impure mind. Do not mistake emotion for devotion. Do not live on emotion. Control lower emotions and be calm and serene. Do not cultivate the habit of weeping through emotion. But shed tears of Prema in silence through Virahagni and practice of the presence of God. Do not jump and dance violently. Allow a single controlled emotion to glide smoothly like a gentle wave.

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