From where do the six streams of emotion—desire, anger, pride, attachment, greed, and the sense of I-am-ness—come? They must flow from someplace, since they are not the result of your divine nature. This is an important subject. The origin of these streams is in the four primitive fountains of emotion. If you learn this lesson well, it will help you in all areas of life. The four primitive fountains are the source of all emotions.

Food, sex, sleep, and self-preservation are the root causes of all emotions.

The four urges for food, sex, sleep, and self-preservation are the root causes of all emotions. And because of this, learning to skillfully balance and channel these urges is an important step on the spiritual path. So when you begin to work with your emotions you should be systematic. First, discover why you become emotional. The triggers for emotions are never from deep within you; emotion is always a reaction to things from without. Something happens externally and then you become emotional—angry or sad. There is some situation outside yourself, and when you react to it, that makes you emotional. You become emotional because you have not yet correctly arranged or understood your relationships with the external world.

Perhaps you cannot deal with certain problems or conflicts at home, and so you go to study with a swami or a yogi, or you start doing japa (the repetition of a mantra). Avoiding the emotional issue is not going to help you. Instead of dealing with the conflict or issue, you look for answers outside yourself—and of course you don’t succeed. But if you remain careful with your emotions, and learn how to go through the ups and downs of life and still remain balanced, then you will not suffer from this kind of conflict. In fact, even some of the diseases that you experience are the result of negative emotions that you do not yet recognize—nor are their causes understood even by medical science. So learn to understand the origins of your emotions, the places from where these emotions spring.

Therapy means the process of learning how to be normal and balanced, and to attain that normalcy you need a kind of therapeutic understanding. How do you become balanced? There are several important points which you first need to understand. If you work with yourself on these points you will benefit, and if you are in therapy, your therapist will be amazed to see how much progress you have made. In fact, all therapists and teachers should teach their students how to regulate the four primitive fountains: the desires for food, sex, and sleep, and the urge for self-preservation. They are the very basis of all problems.

Often people ask how long it will take for them to be liberated, and I answer, “One second!” The whole world could be liberated and happy in one day’s time if all human beings used their emotions in a positive and constructive way. So learn to work with yourself. All your actions are controlled by your thoughts, and all your thoughts are controlled by your emotions. By comparison with your emotions, thought has little power; if you can use your emotional power constructively, you can channel it. Then your emotional power can be utilized in a creative way and lead you to a height that will give you real happiness.

Further Reading

The Art of Joyful Living

by Swami Rama

In The Art of Joyful Living, Swami Rama imparts a message of inspiration and optimism: that you are responsible for making your life happy and emanating that happiness to others. This book shows you how to maintain a joyful view of life even in difficult times.

Source: The Art of Joyful Living (Swami Rama)

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