Feeling and Fielding
an excerpt from the Teachings of Eugene Halliday
The body, being made of parts, may corrupt, disintegrate and die. The system of ideas in the mind-space also may disintegrate. All compounds whatever are subject to corruption, to disintegration. Is feeling a compound? Can feeling disintegrate? To answer this we must examine the nature of feeling. A feeling, as experienced, is not usually so clearly defined as an idea. It is possible to produce a relatively sharply defined feeling by sticking a pin into oneself in a sensitive place, but even here the feeling does not attain the same degree of sharpness we find in a clearly defined idea such as we use in considering a geometrical form.
There is in a feeling, no matter how clearly it may be defined, a sense that it is somehow edge-less, lacking in hard contour. When we seek for the origin of our consciousness of clearly defined forms or shapes we find it in our visual sense. It is the eye which gives us our consciousness of sharply contoured forms. These visual forms recorded in our memory are what we call clear ideas. The word “idea” means form or shape, and because of the course of the development of philosophy, has come to mean a form in consciousness, or in the mind, rather than in the material world.
Ordinarily, if the lighting conditions are favourable, and if the objects from which they come have clean edges, the eyes register clear cut shapes. We do not feel any emotion when we see a clearly defined geometrical shape (unless this shape is associated with some pleasurable or painful situation. In which case, the emotion belongs to this and not to the shape itself).
The eye is a directional organ. Our eyes are on the front of our face and look in one direction at a time. From what is presented to the eye in one look, which look is itself an abstraction of the total visual possibility of the universe, interest abstracts a relatively small area of the visual field in which some shape, or form, or object is presented. Thus our attention, our interest, ordinarily jumps from one object to another across the visual field, ignoring large areas of what we call “space” between the objects or forms which interest us.
Usually we are not conscious of this process of leaping from one interesting form to another. We are conscious of the leap across the “space” between. But if we stop for a moment and ask ourselves whether we are not, after all, aware in some degree of the “space” we have leapt over we have to answer, “Yes”. We are aware of what is between forms which sharply interest us. We are aware of “space”, of the background of the interesting forms, but not in so sharp a manner as we are of the forms themselves.
What is “interest“? Simply we may say it is emotional charge. It is a degree of liking or disliking of a content of consciousness. (We will not say here “of unconsciousness” because we shall deal with this later.).
Interest is emotional charge or stress. What is emotion? It is feeling mobilised in relation to some form or object, feeling on the move towards or away from something. We talk of a “moving” experience, meaning one which sets our feelings in motion.
Emotion is feeling mobilised, feeling on the move in relation to something. What is feeling when it is not mobilised, not on the move in relation to something?
Feeling not mobilised may be immobilised negatively, that is held in check, inhibited by contrary stimuli, as when one may feel like walking north and south simultaneously. This kind of negative feeling results in general tension from the inner self contradiction of the opposing feeling directions.
Feeling may also be stationary from lack of surrounding stimuli, so that it has no ground for moving. This leaves the body relaxed (and possibly hypotense, or under the normal level of slight tension which living beings usually exhibit and which we call the tonic state).
Feeling may also be standing in the tonic state of readiness to receive stimuli positively, ready to respond to any stimulus which may come. (This tonic feeling state is the precondition to certain states of higher consciousness such as those attained in Yoga exercises.)
But, whether immobilised negatively, or stationary from lack of surrounding stimuli, or standing in the tonic state of readiness to move, feeling has no sharply defined limits, no hard contours. When we feel to find the edges or limiting contours of feeling, we do not find them. Feeling always goes beyond the hard binding lines that the visual sense gives us.
If we increase the sensitivity of our feeling to find the limits of it, instead of finding limits, we find that our feeling extends further and further out.
Continued increase of sensitivity and refinement of feeling merely extends feeling further. With feeling sensitivity increased we begin to realise that feeling will always extend beyond any clearly defined form we may experience. Feeling goes beyond all definition. It is infinite. Ideas or forms or objective things are all circumscribed and therefore finite. Feeling is infinite.
But although feeling is in itself infinite, nevertheless, within the circumscribed zone of a form or object, feeling is characterised by the object. That is to say, wherever an object exists in consciousness (or in the unconscious), feeling is ordinarily conditioned by the object.
When feeling is mobilised in relation to an object, towards, away from, or around it, an emotional charge is placed on the object. The emotional charge is the pressure or stress of feeling placed on the object. To place this stress on an object the feeling contracts upon it. If we feel very carefully, we can find in the stressed feeling the sensation of contraction or holding in of tension to the object.
If we deeply value an object then, in our mind, we hold the idea of this object with an extra tension, a tension more than that we place on other ideas not related to things we value. If we do this with several valued objects which we relate together into a pattern, we create a feeling-compound determined in its quality by the feeling-stresses or emotional charges placed on the objects or ideas of objects constituting the pattern.
If we now take the group of ideas which we refer to as our individuality, the particular group of ideas which is ordinarily habitually presented in consciousness and referred to as “I”, and place upon this pattern and the “I” group a special feeling stress which we call the sense of ownership or property, we have created an emotionally charged state we call the state of identification. The “I” group of ideas now has tied to it the value-stressed pattern in such a way that the destruction of the pattern or of part of it will have an unpleasant effect in the zone of the “I” group. The feeling in this group will then feel the damage done to the value-stressed pattern as injury done to part of itself. If the whole pattern is destroyed or disintegrated the feeling will be one of disintegration. Thus although feeling itself is infinite not finite and therefore indestructible, in the identified state, where it has pressed upon a group of objects and deeply valued them, the disintegration of the group is felt as if it were the disintegration of the feeling itself.
But feeling is infinite; it cannot disintegrate. Therefore the feeling of disintegration produced by the disruption of a group of value-stressed ideas is an illusion. This is of the utmost importance.
What is feeling itself? It is the self-experience of the infinite sentient power. If then, instead of identifying with groups or patterns of ideas, feeling returns to itself, it returns to infinity. But infinity is not finite. What happens to the objects with which feeling had identified when feeling removes the value-stress from the objects?
The objects are forms of motion of and in the infinite sentient power. When the value-stress or super-stress is removed from them they still have their characteristic form, they are not lost. But now they do not stand out from the infinity of other forms produced by the motion of the infinite sentient power. They are there without super-stress. They may again be super-stressed by the introduction by the sentient power of special localised tensions, or they may be left at the general tension level of the infinity of other forms. Whether they are left at the general tension level or super-stressed and thus made to stand out from the others is determined entirely by the sentient power itself.
The coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be of super-stresses in the sentient power is the creation and dissolution of all beings individual and universal. Worlds come to be and cease to be merely by the introduction into itself and removal from itself by the sentient power of super-stresses.
Wherever sentient power actualises itself we may say is a field of activity. A field may be defined as a zone of influence of a motion pattern. (A field is sometimes defined as a zone of influence of a force, but “forces” manifest only as motion.) In principle, in a continuum all motions travel throughout its whole substance. In an infinite continuum all motions are propagated (travel) to infinity. The sentient power is infinite. Therefore all motions within it are propagated infinitely. This means that all motions usually interpenetrate each other. No motion is absolutely shielded from any other.
When we experience anything (idea or thing) we do so because of its characteristic motion-pattern, its form of motion. As the zone of influence of a motion-pattern is called a “field” we may say that when we experience a feeling what we are experiencing is a field state. We may say that to feel is to be subject to a field.
As ultimately there is nothing other than the infinite sentient power and its motions, and what is experienced by this sentient power is simply its own motion-pattern, and the zone of influence of a motion is called a field, we may talk of the infinite field, and say that what is being felt by infinite sentience is its own infinite field. As the field is characterised by its motion-pattern, and feeling feels the field’s motion-patterns as its own content, we may say that feeling is field consciousness; or to make a simple mnemic sentence, a memory aid, we may say that feeling is “fielding”, by which we mean that the content of a feeling is the field-process or motion-pattern in the zone where the feeling is experienced.
In an infinite continuum we have seen that all motions travel (are propagated) to infinity and are therefore wholly mutually interpenetrating. As this is so we are forced to conceive the infinite continuum of sentient power as traversed by motion-patterns interpenetrating each other so that the whole continuum or field is entirely filled by motion.
When we talk of the infinite sentient power, in using the word “power” we are implying causative motion, for no power can exist other than as cause of some effect. Power is that which pushes something. (We are not here using the word “power” as it is used in mechanics, where it means the rate of doing work. We are using it in accordance with its root significance, ability to push. The word “cause” also conveys the related idea of applied force, for it comes from a word meaning to strike.
Therefore for “sentient power” we might really equally well say “sentient motion”. No motion can occur without producing some effect; therefore motion must be conceived to be a cause. The effect of the cause is the outer or external motion arising from the inner initiating motion. There is no discontinuity between a cause and its effect. Both are the same motion; but the effect is that part of a motion which is, received by a sense organ from outside.
The usual idea of causation in Europe and the West is that a moving object striking another object imparts some of its motion to this object and so changes its state or location. This is the idea of causation which treats things as happening one after the other in time, the cause being earlier in time and the effect later. We may call this idea of causation the “serial causation” idea. Causes precede effects in time.
But the other view of causation is quite different and has a different application. It is a fundamental of oriental philosophies. This idea says that both cause and effect are motion-patterns; that they are essentially identical, but that a cause is the motion not manifested to a sense organ, and the effect is the same motion experienced by a sense organ.
In other words, when a motion originates from outside a given sense organ, the psyche using this sense organ calls this motion an effect. “Effect” really means “outer fact” or action upon a sense organ not originated in that organ.
At the point of originating a motion the sentient power feels this motion as a cause. Where this same motion is received by a sense organ and attributed to an external source it is called an effect.
All motions whatever originate within the infinite sentient power or motion. As we say that a causal motion is one originated from within, we must say that for the infinite sentient power all motion is causal. At this level of comprehension there is only causal motion and there are no effects. Where then do effects come into existence?
They come into existence where the causal motion-patterns are functioning as circumscribed formal beings receiving motion-patterns from other formal beings outside themselves.
“Outside” does not, and cannot, mean “outside” the infinite field of sentient power. It means outside some finite motion-pattern (formal being) within the infinite. We can illustrate this very simply by letting the paper of this page represent the field, and the letters printed on the motion-patterns of the field. All the letters are within the page but each letter is outside the others. From its own centre each letter is a causal being keeping itself in being by its characteristic formal motion. But each letter receives information about the other letters from outside itself and interprets this as fact external to itself, that is, as an effect.
If we imagine each letter to generate itself, to formulate itself, we may view it as self-caused. If we imagine each letter to be sentient, to have its own consciousness, it will treat every motion coming to it from outside as an effect of an assumed external cause. Yet the cause and the effect are the same motion, the cause at its point of origin, the effect at its point of reception.
So also it may be conceived of human beings. Each of us feels a causal motion or power within ourself and sees this motion to have some effect on others. The same motion, liberated in one person as a cause, becomes in another person an effect.
A motion is not called an effect until it manifests externally, that is on or beyond the periphery of its being.
If we remember that the ultimate source of all beings is the infinite sentient power which has nothing external to it, we will see why we may refer to it as the absolute cause of all things. If we remember that this infinite sentient power produces within itself by its motion an infinity of patterns which as circumscribed zones of motion are outside each other, though internal to the infinite, we may see that each being may stand as the causal centre of certain motion-patterns, and yet these same motions impinge on other beings and there be interpreted as effects.
When a pebble is dropped on the surface of a pool the impact causes ripples. These ripples travel through the water and produce motion in the weeds and other things, the motion observed in the weeds etc. being called the effect. If we draw a circle for the edge of the pool and a dot in its centre for the point of impact of the pebble, this dot represents the initial causal motion, and the circle its effect. Yet the circle represents only the expanded original motion of the dot at its centre. Cause and effect are not two separate things. In the same way, when a man initiates a motion in his mind, this motion travelling from its point of origin through his organism becomes at his perimeter an effect, which we call external action. External action is an effect, a cause become visible to other beings.
[bold type is for study emphasis and not part of the original document – Ed. Italicised words are part of the original document ]