There are three primary emotions (as far as I can tell) that work with each other in rooting consciousness to the illusionary world. These emotions are anger, fear and desire. In the diagram below, I’ve depicted these three emotions as a triangle. When one of these emotions is activated, the other two naturally follow.
To see this interplay in action, simply turn on a news broadcast, or read the headlines on a newspaper or news website. News tends to sell itself in fear. Consider the CNN headline I found on their website today:
The headline there is somewhat concerning. It makes us scared. I’m not picking on CNN, the same style of sensationalism could be found on FoxNews or a variety of other news outlets.
Regardless if the headline is true, the statement makes us worried and scared of an outcome. The fear comes with a desire to see the opposite occur. We don’t want racism, so we desire something different. It also comes with anger, anger over more divisional statements from a political leader.
It’s not hard to find anger these days either. Consider the following video produced by Donald Trump’s team. The message is that Democrats will bring killers into your neighborhoods, and you won’t be safe:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Anger like that, comes with Fear – the fear of seeing more of violence, or you could say this video is attempting to put the fear of democrats into the viewer. People who react to the fear will vote a certain way. Beyond the scope of fear there is also the Desire for a different outcome to what has happened. In this case the desire is to elect Republicans.
Unlike the other two, desire is the often least resisted. To some degree we might understand the dangers of anger/hate as well as the dangers of fear. But desire, that often seems like a normal functioning aspect of being human. After all, without desire, would there be any humans at all?
Desire is a tricky thing. Desire can elevate consciousness, but it quite often lowers it. When desire is turned inward towards the self (selfish desire), it brings with it Fear and Anger.
Consider something you recently bought. Perhaps it was a car, or a watch, or a cell phone. With most of us, that initial purchase period comes with some fear and anger. If someone where to put their hands on our object, we might internally object, worried with Fear that they might scratch or otherwise damage it. Imagine if someone where to damage the object? What then? Then comes the roots of desire: Anger.
Desire is often a cultivated emotion. Many a marketer will use fear to cultivate desire:
“For the next 2 min. only, you’ll have an opportunity to buy [something] for 80% OFF!”
Perhaps you didn’t know you wanted something. You were on the fence, then fear comes along saying you can now afford it, but you have only minutes to act.
Raw emotion, such as anger over violence or crime, will always create a desire for a way out.
Some would argue that there is no upside to Desire. It may in fact be true, but for spiritual growth there is a need for wanting to improve. That wanting to improve, is itself a desire.
I’ve heard people defend anger, desire and even fear. To some degree all are useful, but most of the time it drags us down, back into the illusion. The illusion I’m referring to, is the illusionary or false aspect of life.
There is something corrupt and false with the world we experience with mundane consciousness. Quite often we walk around this world and think we are experiencing reality. Yet every spiritual tradition I’ve been part of has said quite the opposite.
By getting involved in Anger, Desire and Fear, directed towards some sense of self interest (such as my country first, my race first, my individual body first) we deepen ourselves into the illusionary world.
Like screws that have been drive into wood, we can either be unscrewed from the world, or be driven deeper into it. A woodworker knows that turning a screw counter-clockwise pulls it out of the wood, and clockwise turns will drive it deeper in.
Think about those feelings of Fear, Anger and Desire as described in Paradigm 1. Do they drive you deeper into the world? Or are they pulling you out of it?
If one identifies themselves as something part of the world (an individual body, a family, a race, a club or group, a country, nature), then Paradigm 1 works to push you into the world deeper and deeper.
Yet if one identifies with something beyond the scope of the physical universe (a spirit, a soul, God, emptiness, consciousness) then Paradigm 1 will pull them out of the wood. In truth, fear and anger will ultimately be lost as one is pulled further out of the material world. Desire may stick a bit longer, but in time it too runs out.
What is ultimately left (as one is proverbially ‘unscrewed’ from the world) is simply intent.
Fear, Anger and Desire can be utilized to a limited degree to help untangle one from the world.
Desire to improve or ascend towards God, would be an example of a positive desire. In time, desire has to be released as well. It offers growth, but in time it becomes a hindrance.
Fear of repeated failure (and returning to identify with the illusionary world of suffering) can also be useful in the short run. In time, like desire, fear will be a hindrance. But those initial turns of the screw to unscrew it from the world can utilize fear in this way.
Anger of one’s own failure can spur temporary momentum in pulling out of the world. Again, as with desire and fear, it too will need to be released.
Gravity and the Pull Back
In time, Anger, Fear, and Desire will always be a breeding ground for the illusion. They act as a form of fuel. Think of the illusionary nature of the world, as a Gravity. It holds us here. Yet a rocket with the right fuel can create momentum to push harder than the force of gravity. That fuel could be desire to change, anger of failure or fear or returning to a bad situation.
In time however, the rocket (us) needs something lighter to keep the push going. The fuel is so heavy that it starts to pull us back. Just holding a high desire, can cause us to holder a less high desire, and a less higher desire until we are back into the problem we tried to escape from.