Thoughts + emotions = mental


What is the dif­fe­rence bet­ween emo­tions and fee­lings ? What is thought ? In this article, I pro­pose to dive into the heart of the dyna­mics of men­tal. According to Eckhart Tolle and Jiddu Krishnamurti’s tea­chings, it bases not only on emo­tions and thought, but also around know­ledge and time.



The term emo­tion comes from the Latin « motio », which means « action of moving, move­ment ». The idea of move­ment is expres­sed by the fact that an emo­tion is above all a psy­cho­lo­gi­cal and phy­si­cal reac­tion to a situa­tion. In this it dif­fers from fee­ling, which is not of the order of reac­tion but rather of imme­diate know­ledge. Thus, emo­tions belong to the men­tal world, while fee­lings ema­nate from the heart.


Emotions et feelings

There are only two fee­lings : love and fear. All emo­tions – ran­ging from joy to sad­ness to anger – flow from fee­lings. However, they end up no lon­ger having a conscious link with heart and are atta­ched only to men­tal. When our emo­tions are too overw­hel­ming, our fee­lings are out of balance, usual­ly to the advan­tage of fear. This is how wor­king on our emo­tions to balance them can bring out more love in us.



learning-thoughts-and-emotionsThis is a theme dear to Krishnamurti. For this phi­lo­so­pher of Indian ori­gin, men­tal is condi­tio­ned by know­ledge, and also by expe­rience, because expe­rience soo­ner or later becomes know­ledge. According to him, know­ledge is mecha­ni­cal and hin­ders the free­dom of the mind, inclu­ding crea­ti­vi­ty. Krishnamurti speaks here of true crea­ti­vi­ty, that which does not have its source in men­tal, and which is not just the imple­men­ta­tion of a know­ledge.

It can be said that know­ledge is use­ful up to a cer­tain point, beyond which it becomes confi­ning. Krishnamurti insists, among other things, that psy­cho­lo­gi­cal know­ledge – the ideas we have about our­selves – even­tual­ly becomes rou­tine. For him, it is the accu­mu­la­tion of know­ledge that repre­sents the real dan­ger. For it is beco­ming more and more dif­fi­cult to detach one­self from it. And the more we use it to gain an unders­tan­ding of our­selves and what sur­rounds us, the fur­ther we move away from true know­ledge.

The accu­mu­la­tion of know­ledge implies memo­ry, and the­re­fore a notion of time. It jus­ti­fies, as it were, the psy­cho­lo­gi­cal time, which nou­rishes and sup­ports the men­tal.



What is thought ? According to Krishnamurti :


« Thought has engen­de­red the ‘I’ which has become – in appea­rance – inde­pendent of thought ; and this ‘I’, which is always part of thought, consti­tutes our psy­cho­lo­gi­cal struc­ture. »


Thought feeds sepa­ra­tion
. It is frag­men­ta­ry because it has dis­so­cia­ted itself from the object it has crea­ted from scratch. In other words, it puts a dis­tance, it creates a divi­sion bet­ween the object and its ver­bal deno­mi­na­tion. For example, thin­king of a flo­wer auto­ma­ti­cal­ly implies that we consi­der it out­side of us. Thus, our basic conscious­ness has become, through thought, that of sepa­ra­tion.  

Thought, like know­ledge, is not tru­ly crea­tive. It is use­ful only in prac­ti­cal life but does not want to stick to this role, it believes itself to be alive and self-justifies itself by per­pe­tua­ting the « I » (the ego). In fact, it has crea­ted an arti­fi­cial cen­ter, the Ego, around which it conti­nual­ly gra­vi­tates in various forms that are always limi­ted, sepa­ra­tive and contra­dic­to­ry, but which give it a reas­su­ring – albeit illu­so­ry – per­cep­tion of per­ma­nence.

Even when thought seeks to bring order to its own contra­dic­tions, it only creates more disor­der. It is some­how condem­ned to live in contra­dic­tion. Thought believes that it expresses what is true, but being based on memo­ry, know­ledge and expe­rience, it is only limi­ted and repe­ti­tive. Through this repe­ti­tion, it gene­rates its own move­ment and ener­gy.




Time is the mesh that main­tains very strong and close links bet­ween emo­tions, know­ledge, thought, expe­rience and memo­ry. This mesh inter­weaves these aspects into cause-and-effect rela­tion­ships, thus sup­por­ting a deter­mi­nis­tic dyna­mic of life (see the article Is the uni­verse deter­mi­nis­tic ? for a more detai­led approach to the sub­ject).

Time we are tal­king about here is not clock time – time that flows phy­si­cal­ly – but psy­cho­lo­gi­cal time. The lat­ter implies memo­ry and anti­ci­pa­tion, which call upon the past, present and future. Psychological time has nothing to do with the present moment. In fact, from the point of view of conscious­ness, it is com­ple­te­ly arti­fi­cial. On the other hand, it has a very close rela­tion­ship with the men­tal, as Eckhart Tolle explains :


« Why does men­tal tend to deny or resist the present moment ? Because it can­not func­tion and main­tain control without time, i.e. without the past and the future. Therefore it per­ceives the time­less present moment as a threat. In fact, time and men­tal are inse­pa­rable. » [2]


Although these four aspects can be consi­de­red sepa­ra­te­ly, they are in fact clo­se­ly imbri­cate and inter­de­pendent. And this, some­times, in a very subtle way, as a care­ful rea­ding of Eckhart Tolle and Krishnamurti’s books can reveal.

Now that we have a lit­tle more insight into men­tal, let’s see if we can do the same with conscious­ness.


Can consciousness be defined ?



Attempting to define conscious­ness is per­haps a grea­ter chal­lenge than it seems. Because conscious­ness is invol­ved as both sub­ject and object of the quest.

One could ask the ques­tion this way : which conscious­ness seeks to define conscious­ness ? A ques­tion that can qui­ck­ly find a limi­ted ans­wer if the resear­cher’s conscious­ness is iden­ti­fied with men­tal. From this point of view, a review of the dif­ferent mea­nings, aspects and cha­rac­te­ris­tics of conscious­ness could prove to be limi­ted, if not ste­rile. However, star­ting from a few simple defi­ni­tions, we can embark on a dee­per ques­tio­ning.


Consciousness and mental : a fusional link

The dic­tio­na­ry teaches us that conscious­ness is a « clear men­tal repre­sen­ta­tion of the exis­tence, the rea­li­ty of this or that thing » [3]. This simple sta­te­ment brings into play two ele­ments that I think are very ques­tio­nable. Firstly, the men­tal repre­sen­ta­tion cor­res­ponds to the image one has of conscious­ness and not to conscious­ness itself. And second­ly, men­tal is then consi­de­red as the only way to approach conscious­ness.

Another defi­ni­tion : « Consciousness is, from the point of view of cer­tain phi­lo­so­phies and psy­cho­lo­gy, the men­tal facul­ty that allows a sub­jec­tive appre­hen­sion of exter­nal (for example, in the form of sen­sa­tions) or inter­nal (emo­tio­nal states, thoughts) phe­no­me­na and more gene­ral­ly one’s own exis­tence » [4]. Again, there is a link bet­ween conscious­ness and men­tal, which can be confu­sing.

In my opi­nion, conscious­ness is the sup­port of the men­tal facul­ty that tries to define it. However, it seems wrong to me to reduce conscious­ness to this men­tal facul­ty. I see it rather like this : without conscious­ness there could be no men­tal, and without men­tal there could be no defi­ni­tion.

knowledge-bookIn fact, the amal­gam, ins­tal­led from the begin­ning, bet­ween conscious­ness and men­tal excludes the pos­si­bi­li­ty that conscious­ness can have its own exis­tence, pre­ci­se­ly out­side of any men­tal attach­ment. And it is on this consen­sus esta­bli­shed in par­ti­cu­lar in wri­tings consi­de­red as refe­rences – the dic­tio­na­ry and the ency­clo­pe­dia – that we base our rea­li­ty.


Only experience can change perception

Before any expe­rience of expan­ded conscious­ness, one could be content with this type of defi­ni­tion. One could, at worst, see one­self only through the eyes of men­tal, define conscious­ness only through its fusion with it. Or, at best, one could believe in the pos­si­bi­li­ty that conscious­ness can exist on its own.

On the other hand, expe­rien­cing an expan­sion of conscious­ness trans­cends all belief (see Act 2 of my sto­ry). The expe­rience invites us to look for a new approach, the subt­le­ty of which lies in the gap that is crea­ted when conscious­ness dis­so­ciates itself from men­tal.

Let us also note that if « conscious­ness (…) is the men­tal facul­ty that allows one to appre­hend (…) one’s own exis­tence », defi­ning it obvious­ly implies defi­ning « self-consciousness ». Why not. But how does one define the Self ? If we consi­der that the Self is engen­de­red by thought, it brings us, once again, direct­ly back to the men­tal… Thus, our way of loo­king at conscious­ness seems to depend, in a way, on its degree of fusion with men­tal.


My per­so­nal proof of this is the per­cep­tion of conscious­ness that I had at the time of the aneu­rysm rup­ture, which is far remo­ved from these defi­ni­tions. From this sta­te­ment, I have sought other points of view on the sub­ject. The most imme­diate was that of medi­cine, since this dis­ci­pline was invi­ted itself into my life at that moment. I dis­co­ve­red that conscious­ness is a signi­fi­cant fac­tor in both the diag­no­sis and prog­no­sis of a menin­geal hemor­rhage. Therefore, I have tried to unders­tand what is hap­pe­ning at the phy­sio­lo­gi­cal level in order to detect at what pre­cise moment a reve­la­to­ry inter­ac­tion with conscious­ness mani­fests itself. And this is what I invite you to dis­co­ver in the article Brain, Science and Consciousness.


Key points

  • The dyna­mics of men­tal is based on emo­tions, thought, know­ledge and time.

  • Emotions belong to the men­tal world, while fee­lings ema­nate from the heart.

  • Mental needs conscious­ness in order to exist, but conscious­ness has its own exis­tence, out­side of all men­tal attach­ments.




Notes and references

[1] KRISHNAMURTI Jiddu, Les limites de la pen­sée, Paris : Le livre de poche, 2006, p.151, free trans­la­tion
[2] TOLLE Eckhart, Le pou­voir du moment pré­sent, Québec : Ariane Editions, 2000, p.30, free trans­la­tion
[3] LAROUSSE. Conscience, free trans­la­tion
[4] WIKIPEDIA. Conscience, free trans­la­tion


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