Have you ever considered that the two fundamental principles of the Universe are expansion and contraction? Physics has proved to us that everything is energy, and that the basic variable distinguishing the various manifestations of energy is density of form. The most basic difference between solids,liquids, gases and pure energy is density of form. The very radical principle of Buddhist psychology is that the same principle applies to mind.
Buddhism refers to the thoughts that occupy your mind as mental forms. They are the energy of the mind contracted into form-objects. These objects conform to the dimensions and parameters that society, culture, family and personal experience have programmed into us. It is not unlike a sculptor who only has the materials of their region and the images that their culture deems acceptable for sculpting. We only have the patterns for representing the possibilities of life that have been pre-programmed into us.
Now, just as the sculptor has wood, stone or metal to form a sculpture with,these forms in the mind have different properties. Different types of mind-forms have different densities that you can begin to distinguish, even affect, when you train through meditation then on-verbal perceiving dimension of mind. The amazing thing about humans is that we have the capacity to transform the dimensionality of the energy with which we sculpt our mental forms,the contents of the mind. Without the training of meditation, we are mostly unaware of this capacity other than as a faint intuition.
I am a believer that there are only two primary human emotions, and they are love and fear. These are the principles of union and separateness, with the commensurate properties of expansion and contraction. Love is the experience of oneness with another person, with nature, even with God, Spirit or the universe. In this experience, the energy of the mind expands so that a person’s identity likewise expands to encompass that which is being loved. Conversely,the experience of fear is a contraction of a person’s identity into ever more isolated aloneness, and so, the energy of the mind contracts into a smaller and smaller, lonelier and more vulnerable sense of self. All other emotions are variations of love and fear with corresponding variations of the dimensionality of the energy of the mind.
Affection, happiness, appreciation, kindliness, generosity are all variations of love, not quite as expansive and inclusive, but clearly sharing that expansive,inclusive quality. Anger, aversion, hatred,repulsion, greed are all emotions that are derivatives of the experience of fear, of separateness, difference, rejection. The sense of self that is the ego contracts behind a barrier of separateness to defend itself against perceived threats. The mind sculpts tight, dense, contracted forms of thought concerning the threatening “other” and the embattled“self”. Some emotions, like sadness, are ambivalent combinations of love and fear, vacillating between inclusion and separateness,identification and loss.
How do we know that this is true? Try it for yourself. Think of a person or situation that is very pleasant and personally supportive of you. Experience how the thought feels. Emotion is the body’s feeling response to thought. Then think of a person or situation that is threatening to you. Experience how that thought feels. See? To have a pleasant thought-form in mind causes your sense of self to expand to include the object of the thought resulting in an expansive experience of mind and body. To have a threatening thought-form in mind is to experience your mental energy contracting into the dense form of the fear/anger-thought and so too the body contracts into corresponding tension-emotions.
Buddhism teaches enlightenment. En- lighten -ment. The miracle of mindfulness is the alchemy of transformation of the forms of the mind from separateness-fear-based thoughts that leave you and your experience of life very heavy and dense to union-love-based thoughts (and no-thought) that bring to you a very light and expansive experience of life. You become the sculptor of your life-experience capable of transforming thoughts with the threatening dense hardness of steel into the lightness and healing capacity of,well, – light, the pure energy from which we come. The expansive unity of the Universe becomes the field in which we play. How light, how expansive your mind can be is the liberating and healing practice of a lifetime.