is love an emotion …

heart-13952_640When I talk about the human mind, I often make the difference between the emotional brain and mental activity. I’m not sure whether there is such a thing as a pure emotion or a pure thought. Its obvious that hate is a mix of fear, love, anger and all the thinking that interconnects them.

What I see as pure emotions right now, are sadness and happiness. I would also like to add anger and being scared. But these last two, I’m already less sure about. There is also disgust, and what about euphoria? And are there more basic emotions. Is lust an emotion?

It’s quite difficult if you start to think about it. Lust and hunger should be seen as physical needs. They are not emotions. But if you take away the food from the dog, it will get angry. If you get more angry than the dog, it will get scared and run away. So being scared or angry are two emotions necessary to survive, but not directly connected to needs of the body. Likewise, disgust could be useful to keep us away from diseases.

A primary emotion to me, is an emotion without a mental aspect. We talked about shame, last week, where I said  something like “It is about the fear of those secrets being revealed, It is about the fear of being seen … ” There is a mental aspect about shame. Mental conventions to be trespassed. Shame to me is not a primary emotion. Guilt, Jealousy, Hate, and many others are to be found for their greater part in the mental realm.

I’m also avoiding to classify fear as a primary emotion. Cause fear seems to be an all level experience. Scared being its emotional mask, and fear for being fired, a mental counterpart. Some mystics also describe something that could be called spiritual fear.

Love is also an all level experience. The word love doesn’t say it all. The experience is one of love-compassion. With love being a desire to make someone happy, and compassion the desire to stop somebody from suffering.
There is a physical side to love, an emotional side, a mental side, and a spiritual side.

So to me, neither love, nor compassion, nor fear are emotions.

Fear is creating a distance,

Love and Compassion will remove the distance.

Perhaps Love-Compassion is the only force in the universe, and fear the absence of it.

What do you think?

(image from pixabay, public domain)


49 thoughts on “is love an emotion …

  1. I think it’s very difficult to argue such that we can entirely abstract the mental aspect from the feeling component of any emotion. The two are related in time thusly: the awareness of thought vanishes very quickly, so it can appear that the feeling component of the emotion remains in isolation. This is because the physical manifestation in the nervous system takes longer to dissipate than the thought – and yet the two are always entwined in an emotion, never arising each without the other.

    With gratitude and respect to you Bert, Hariod Brawn.

    • thanks for commenting. It’s difficult to explain. love and fear seem to be an all level (transmental — down to physical) experience. I right now wonder whether this is the case with happiness and sadness too — but silence seems to be the only answer my ignorant brain seems to be able to give 🙂

  2. I believe that love is a need. It also is an emotion and it occurs packaged with feelings and thoughts – being emotionally energy and (creative/adaptive) intentional (desired) thought. It is a need for emotion – specifically, it is need for belonging with acceptance (feeling acceptance and being acceptance). Thus, love may be a choice if love is present. Making a choice to be unconditionally loving is a decision. Thus, often it may be said that love is a decision.
    Thanks for your visit. You may enjoy many of my recent posts or even from previous months. I am working on clarifying my spiritual solutions for living presently an I made December a month of self-improvement. Hope you will make comment and assist if you are able or have time.
    ~ Eric

    • Hi HFT, thank you for your interesting comment. You say that love is a need, and then you add the full scale feelings and thoughts, making it an all level experience.
      Making a choice for unconditional love, might start as a desire, an act of will (a decision as you call it), but that initial motoric moment is soon surpassed by reality. Those who are really capable of this unconditional love-compassion, have made this decision probably too, long before it became a full blown habit.
      So a decision, yes, but at a given moment, you have no choice any more, and the only way to act will be uncompromised compassion or unconditional love.
      Thank you for inspiring me, and for starting this interesting discussion.

      • Love is a choice for those that have their baser needs met – it is a need as well. Its unfortunate that humans are designed so that sex is a very basic physiological need and the basis for love – belonging is a higher need and actual love is a higher need and self-esteem is yet a higher need. What happens in development is young people feel a strong sexual need early on in development before they’ve gained the maturity of social meeting social needs properly. They look for “love” and really they are seeking the physiological satisfaction of touching, being comforted and sex. These being more instinctual and they having no awareness of how higher needs will impact them “fall in love,” The decision to love someone may truly only for a small minority of humans since this requires a highly evolved person. This is reflected in the high divorce rates. When people can’t get their esteem and prestige needs met in relationships the feeling of love becomes elusive and they tend to turn to overtime working, games, porn, alcohol or drugs.
        As for unconditional love – it is of the highest form of attainment of love and is far above the lower layers of discovering what love is about. Few ever attain this. Most that are able to give unconditional love are saintly souls.
        Unfortunately understanding human needs is not typically taught in our schools and if its in a curriculum it usually is taught by people that are themselves not qualified by experience.

  3. When I started my blog in October I had tremendous fear of being rejected by all that may read the blog. I feared all the people I knew would run for the hills and never speak to me again. Many did run and I felt so sad and contemplated shutting my blog down. I changed my mind because of one reader. The reader left such a kind warm message and told me that because of my blog she decided to tell of her rape that she never shared with anyone. Her message was filled with love and compassion. Fear of rejection is still a huge issue for me and I work on overcoming it every day with little steps.

    • Fear can be a powerful force, inhibiting us or repelling us. But those ‘friends’ that you lost by telling your truth, how much did they love you? We are all afraid of losing, be it material things and money, dignity or love. But the fear of losing love, is actually killing the love, if love were still there in the first place. Fear of rejection stems from childhood experiences – from parents never approving what we did. (but i suppose i don’t tell anything new)
      Bless you with Love and Light and Peace.

  4. I think one of the things you are circling around is the difference between an emotion and a feeling. Feelings are emotions with the addition of conceptual/thought material. So I would characterize shame as a feeling, because it combines sadness and fear with a concept of worthlessness. But I do think fear is an emotion, and perhaps our most basic emotion. Love I think is something more.

    • If you’d like to call compound emotions, feelings, than that might be a definition, but in our daily language, it will be a difficult wording since most people don’t see a difference between anger, happiness or guilt, and all of them would put them in the same basket that they will call emotion or feeling.
      So I was trying to find what the basic, primary, pure, emotions are in humanity, and so far I found 2 (sadness / happiness) with certainty, and 3 more (disgust / anger / scared) with doubt.

      I see fear most of the time as a mental process, but there is a hormonal/emotional counterpart: being scared. I can scare any kind of animal, but most of them will not feel ashamed about anything. Dogs do feel shame, I noticed, but reptiles probably do not.

      You can feel fear in your body. Cold sweat. You can smell it. This is the physical aspect of fear.
      There is the emotional aspect of being scared from a predator, a human being shouting or wanting to physically attack.
      There is the mind fearing loss of things it likes or loves, this being the mental aspect.
      There is also spiritual fear which I encountered within the writings of some contemporary mystics (I dare to quote Bernadette Roberts: “Perhaps it was the strength needed to bear the vision, to enter into God, but I did not know for sure, nor could I imagine how one could see God face to face and live. To come upon such a requirement could make a man despair and turn away.”
      So this is my ‘little’ evidence to prove that fear is an all level experience.

      I think fear and love are opposites. This is not my idea, I encountered it from a variety of thinkers. And I kept scrutinizing this duality for the past 10 years. So far I could not find an example to disclaim the statement.
      If Love is an all level experience, and if fear is its opposite, then fear must also be an all level experience.

  5. It a mazing to hear unexpected feedback
    When we write a post, it reminds me that there isn’t just one answer to a question as I was taught that ” we know in part as we share our past ” thanks for sharing yours a great post bert.


  6. A wonderful post, Bert. I would suggest that love is a state-of-being, our most natural state-of-being. I will have to read this again, when I am not rushed for time, but most enjoyable and inspired read. Thank you~

      • I reread your wonderful piece, Bert. It’s worthwhile for us to examine these ideas. In Greek, there are several words for love, which honors the distinction among the kinds of love. But Love, that singular place of true being, does heal the rest of it, whether those emotions or mental states are felt in the body or experienced out of self-talk, trained reaction, instinct or being uncentered. They fade at the touch of Love. Some come to it in meditation, some in the space from which art comes. I think we consider it an altered state, but it is our true essence. This to me is the ideal, a place at which we arrive in a somewhat hit-and-miss fashion, but I hope over time we are on the right path and then stay the course. Easier said than done, as I am reminded in this moment of dealing with the protracted and painful death of a much valued friend.

        You have a thoughtful blog, a reflection of your sweet spirit. I enjoy visiting here.

        With appreciation,

        • Thank you for this beautiful and concentrated reply. Over lunch today, we discussed the effect of art: being startled, speechless. That is what art tries or should try to do. Shake us into reboot. Not much different from the moment when you sneeze. Or being in music. Listening to music, focussing on it, makes the mind silent too. Meditation doesn’t bring me there often, it has to come by itself, and it does, although meditation certainly calms down the mind and makes it possible to notice how the mind works and when the mind is indeed silent.
          My condolences over your friend. I hope that realizing that this friendship will always remain with you in some way or another, can console and comfort you.

  7. The only limitation to all the dimensions of love is the word itself. It always gets in the way of the spiritual, emotional, and mental sides. I also agree that Love is God, only when words are followed by action. Great post, I love it!

  8. What a thought provoking post. Thank you. I believe that love is an action, its a choice and that the underlying cause of most or all negative emotions (which you make a good point in saying that there is an emotional and mental aspect to emotions) is fear which is programmed through unacknowledged grief. I.E.”I’m angry because I think I am going to lose something important to me, I’m afraid to lose something because I’ve not dealt with the lose of some other thing, it builds and builds into a pressure cooker.” The mental acrobats we do to avoid something build upon itself, we need to find a safe outlet in which to get in touch with our grief. Our society tends to give grief and sadness a time limit. I’m not saying wallow in sadness, what I am suggesting is that we show up for our grief when it calls on us to, forget about what others think. There are a whole lot of people who will see and learn from the courage of your tears.

    • Thank you for your interesting comment!
      Love is an action, but also Silence alone will make it heard. I think we use our mental capacities too much to understand what the heart knows already for a long time. If only we’d listen to it. You mention fear, the mother of all negative ’emotions’. And mind turning around and around trying to find again any lost security. Grief itself seems to be one of the less mental emotions, but the mind will go through all the Kuebler Ross stages, and sometimes gets stuck, and will not get out of it without help. I think our society doesn’t allow for grief at all. Everything has indeed a time limit, but grief is really not given any time any more at all.
      When I was a young boy, my grandmother would wear black clothes for 3 months, and after that she would dress in grey for another 3 months. Nowadays, we get 3 days to get over our loss. This destroys the natural way of accepting the inevitable, and consequently grief turns into depression.

    • There are indeed no words for it. Sometimes, in silence, we feel this energy. But it is not wise to translate in into thousands of pages of metaphysical wisdom. Words will never capture not transmit It.

  9. Love is specifically defined:

    1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

    Love is patient.
    Love is kind.
    Love is NOT jealous.
    Love does not brag of itself and is not arrogant.
    Love does not act unbecomingly.
    Love does not seek its own.
    Love is not provoked.
    Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.
    Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.
    Love rejoices with the truth.
    Love bears all things.
    Love endures all things.
    Love never fails.

    So, it seems that indeed love is much much more than an emotion.

    • I used to be an altar boy, 40 years ago. When people married for the church, they often chose this passage by Paul. Then I could hear the passion of Paul, through his words, a passion acquired through direct experience.

  10. Great, thought-provoking post!

    I resonate with what kindredspirit23 said, “…fear is the absence of love. Love is God; God is love, so absence of God creates fear.”

    I also resonate strongly with, “Fear is creating a distance, Love and Compassion will remove the distance.”

  11. Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    This is a provocative question. I believe humans need to live in community. There is a basic need to be loved and to love others. Bert makes a great point that the word ‘love’ might say it all. Love extends beyond the rational part of our life.

  12. My faith and belief is that love is the only true emotion; fear is the absence of love. Love is God; God is love, so absence of God creates fear. I have noticed that since I had my stroke and trust God more, my fear is down immensely. I understand about connecting the mental and the emotional. I think we will always do that to some degree. Fear is based on your thoughts. To my knowledge, except for heights, perhaps, we are not inherently afraid of anything, but learn to be afraid.

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