Since negative emotions trigger the stress response, signaling our brain that we are in danger and shifting us into Survival Mode; and since our spiritual awareness is devoid of such emotion; what is it, then, that we are experiencing when, while in a compassionate place, it seems like we are feeling sad or disappointed? Some confuse pleasure with positive emotion and pain with negative emotion. Neither pleasure nor pain are emotions, and both can be experienced with the full range of perceptual valuation (gradient scale from negative to positive). For instance, if we over-indulge and devour an entire carton of fudge brownie ice cream, we may experience a rush of sensory pleasure while feeling regret or disappointment even as we are eating it, and frustration or guilt later on when we still can’t zip it up all the way. If we are doing some serious weight training, pushing the limit to bulk out a little; we may experience intense pain while feeling really good about it. Spiritual awareness, the conscious perception of all things vibrating at the frequencies of love, joy, peace, and truth, is not an emotion either; and has no flip-side, like mind-based perceptions (happy-sad, angry-calm, etc.). It is an awareness of the truth of something that already exists that we are tuning into and experiencing. Some may confuse pleasure with happiness and pain with unhappiness, but if we seek happiness through pleasure we will often end up with pain.
Love, joy, peace, and truth do not always, on a material world level, feel good, are not always pleasurable; and contain shades of perceptual experiences, like a range of colors, that define them. Truth can be pleasurable or painful, but, on a spiritual level, is always positive. Comfort is irrelevant. Truth is truth. Love, joy, and peace contain shades of perceptual experience, created by that which is generating them. I believe that compassion is an element of love, that radiates many colors — the colors of compassion.
Our colors of compassion include a range of perceptual experiences generated by our awareness of caring for other people, places, and things. And, just like pain can be confused with unhappiness, some shades of compassion can be confused with negative emotions. For instance, the loss of something we love creates an empty place, which highlights this love in the form of compassion and greater awareness of what was there, but this is not negative, it is positive, it is love. The experience of this compassion will not trigger our brain into the stress response because it is not a negative emotion. It is a color of compassion, which is an element of love.
Photo credit: Kevin Vance