Around 1990 I brought out my so-called “Ladder Of Emotions”. It’s an attempt to lay out emotions in a hierarchical table, starting with what may be the lowest, or most destructive emotions, at the bottom and finishing at the top with what may be the most sublime feelings we can know.
Is this helpful? Well, anything which helps us understand emotions better must be a good thing. Since we are so inept with emotions, it must help to shed even a little light in the darkness.
It’s hard to put numbers to happiness, grief, anger and the like. But charting something—laying it out to look at—is a well-known scientific approach that does help bring clarity. A diagram, if you like, rather than just a table.
I call it a ladder because it is supposed to be something we climb up, not something we slide down, like the snakes in the well-known board game with dice. Yet how often are emotions the snakes!
In actual fact, it leads to some surprising insights and actually suggests some very simple procedures that can alter emotions for the better. You can test these out for yourself and be satisfied.
Emotions vs. The Past
Have you noticed how all the negative emotions are past based? The nice ones are “now”. If you think about it, grief, fear and anger are all based on past experiences. Grief comes from something that happened to you, or another. Fear generally stems from conditioning that says, internally, this is scary, this is dangerous!
Those whose emotions are shattered and sitting in despair, apathy and numbness are, without exception, reacting to something which happened in the past, abuse, trauma, loss and so on. They just can’t escape and move on. They are stuck in the past; stuck in what happened that precipitated the emotional disaster.
Interestingly, anger is a bit more in the NOW. It’s still pre-conditioned, but I observe that angry people are more reacting to something that is right there, in front of them. So that’s a bit more in the present.
Of course there is still past conditioning with anger too; a person who is angry is internally comparing what he or she sees with a past scenario. They expect poor outcomes, based on history, and so get mad with what they are being asked to experience.
Now, looking at the really amazing top emotions: enthusiasm, excitement, joy, bliss, it stands to reason that this is coming from something in the present, the NOW!
You can’t enjoy the excitement of the past if the NOW is full of pain and hostility. So excitement and joy says you are in the now!
The Many Faces Of Happiness And Delight.
Now let’s extend this ladder upwards, into the realm of delightful and positive emotions. We visit these emotions far less frequently than the lower ones. Nevertheless, they do exist – like a mountain range; even if nobody climbs them the peaks are still there.
This is a whole new kind of psychology, called “positive psychology”. Martin Seligman has pioneered it (well, I was first). But there is very little written about amazing and positive emotions. Can we lay them out on our ladder?
Exhilaration, I find, is not so rare. It comes with all sorts of complex indulgences, such as sports, listening to or performing music and other arts, in fact anything which enriches our psychological make-up can catch us in these moments which feel so delicious.
Above there we find “the flow” and power states. These are when mind and spirit are in harmony to such a degree that everything works for us. The Flow, made famous by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is that state of effortless ease, where everything barrels along in an exciting river of creativity and production.
Using the techniques from Supernoetics™, you can learn how to seize control of your life and get increasingly into The Flow. It is about knowing what you want, knowing how to get it, having the necessary skills and involving yourself deeply in the process of realizing your dreams and aspirations. Flow is effortless delight in the pursuit of the self and its fullest realization.
The Flow is really a state of power: the power to get things done. Spiritual power. It’s here that manifesting gets into gear, big time. If you hit The Flow, all kinds of great things start to happen for you. You’ll become unstoppable.
The Fury Of Living
The Flow overlaps with the next level, power. I mean real power; spiritual might. This is where the physical universe starts to crumble before our wishes and intention. We are moving into the zones I describe as the “white fire of Being”, because that’s how it feels to me, when I get there. I consider myself to be in a fury of living (sounds better than a “frenzy”). If you’ve been to these heights, you won’t need a translation of this metaphor!
That wild, exalted state, where the body is a confinement and restriction; where feelings are so intense they want burst out from your head and chest. Words can’t really describe it but I liken it to “white fire”. I feel flooded with positive feeling, love and energy.
Ecstasy goes even beyond this and in turn is a more advanced emotional response. I’m thinking of the spiritual ecstasy, not just the good feeling of, say, a sexual orgasm. Figures like St. Teresa de Havila reveled in it; but Buddha warned against it, as against all extremes! In this higher sense, ecstasy is quite rare.
We encounter it with increasing frequency, as we travel along the Golden Path of Supernoetics™ to our spiritual heart You will learn later on in Supernoetics™ that a person in ecstasy has already transcended the body and is exterior to it. Significantly, the word ecstasy come from the Greek: ekstasis, which means “to stand outside of or transcend [oneself ]”. An OBE, in other words.
Psychologist Abram Maslow wrote a great deal about this transcendent degree of emotional experience in his book Towards a Psychology of Being. What was clear (at least among the people Maslow interviewed) was the fact that it came as an involuntary thing.
The person had no control over these experiences. What is more, they did not seem to repeat much. Having one experience did not make it any easier to have another. In Supernoetics™ we regain at least some control over it.
I have noticed over the years that a person who slides into the sublime upper realms of spirituality seems to radiate a certain presence. It’s like a cool white fire. It doesn’t burn but it does infuse those around the saintly figure.
I think it is a question of states of interpenetrating being. Interpenetrating means something deeper than fusion.
Aside from the question of emotions, this ladder is also a scale of ascending spiritual powers. The further we travel from our base emotions, the more light and airy we become as spirit.
A person in anger or grief has very little power to transform his or her condition. “Manifesting” does not appear at this level, or rather manifesting what is desired because, of course, manifesting occurs at all levels, all the time. So a person in a low state of mind will get an existence which reflects this.
But to manifest in the ordinary sense of the term is an ability (not a law), which increases as we rise up this scale. Only when we have left behind the negative states, from indifference on upwards, does it become a useful power with which to transform our lives.
Psychic abilities appear freely at this level.
Another effect is that of increasing lightness of heart and spirit. Someone near the lower end of the ladder feels heavy, both to themselves and others. A person who is sad or apathetic looks weighed down with troubles; drooping shoulders visibly attest to the burden of woes being borne.
Conversely, near the top end of the ladder, a lightness and airiness of being emerges more and more. A person has a spring in his or her step. It’s more than that: the voice is crisp and light; thoughts are airy and free; there is even a spring in such a person’s gait.
You can see the difference!
Peak experiences are usually characterized by this significant “lightness of being” that has even inspired a book title.
Emotional Tones Are Fluid
Study this ladder well and memorize it. It repays a lot of interest. It is important to remember that an individual will usually moves in steps from one level to another, and sometimes it can be so fast you hardly notice the intervening stages. Nevertheless, they are there.
A man who arrived home to find a note saying his wife had left him for example might first burst into violent rage “How could she do this to me?” (anger), become afraid that it’s really true, then finally weep (grief) before sinking into numbness (apathy). It could all happen in minutes. This is just an illustration, perhaps you can think of many others from your own experience.
I learned all this, by the way, from watching how people changed and responded in piloting, especially when dealing with unpleasant past experiences.
When brought back to the memory in a fully associated manner (a technical expression meaning “right in it” and experiencing it as “now”), he or she would sigh and then burst into tears. Full floods of grief would come tumbling out and then often he or she would talk about the fear or dread of the moment (“fear he had left me forever”, “afraid he was dead” etc.).
If the event was very oppressive, say years of child abuse, often the numbness and apathy lower on the ladder would be the starting place. But sooner or later the client would rise to grief and start crying.
Then upwards through fear to anger. If you have ever watched a person recovering (truly recovering) from abuse, you’ll always spend time at the anger level; usually a lot of time. There is a LOT of anger, inevitably.
Remember, anger in such a situation is quite healthy. It’s far ahead of numbness and apathy. The person is kicking back, fighting it! But eventually even that begins to dissipate and, as the hostility towards the abuser begins to evaporate, boredom starts to set in.
At some point there is a switch and she starts to look outwards and see herself in the present, instead of associated into the past unpleasant experiences. That’s the cue for more positive emotions. Don’t stop! Keep going and this will appear as interest in the way things have affected her and finally cheerfulness about the future and the release from the emotional prison.