Emotions when reading fiction...

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
Leon-nl
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Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Leon-nl » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:29 pm

I'm reading a book, "Something like Autumn" (by Jay Bell), and... I became so vividly involved with the characters... the relationship between the two guys being so special and so well described... the atmosphere painted by the author really sucked me in. When one of the boys committed suicide, I really felt bad, not for long, but at least at the moment my feelings were very strong.

What does it mean? That I'm human and capable of human feelings - or that my wisdom/understanding of Buddhism has not developed enough (---->I'm sure it hasn't:-)

I'm sure more people can relate to this - how do you handle it? How do you interpret it?

chownah
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:21 pm

Yeah, reading fiction or watching movies or tv shows......even cartoons.........think about the movie Toy Story and any emotions that the animations produced. It is self making. You are fabricating selves for the characters and yourself. This is what virtually all humans do. It is really great that you have discerned that something is up with this.....you might be able to study how this self making happens by being mindful while reading or watching.......I can introspect better when watching in that reading consumes too much of my mental concentration so it is hard for me to be mindful while reading. I think this is a great opportunity to directly experience some of the buddha's teachings......one that is usually overlooked.
chownah
P.S. Do you know what I mean when I talk about self making and fabricating selves? I sometimes think that everyone here knows what I'm talking about but some people don't.
chownah

Leon-nl
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Leon-nl » Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:04 pm

chownah wrote:Yeah, reading fiction or watching movies or tv shows......even cartoons.........think about the movie Toy Story and any emotions that the animations produced. It is self making. You are fabricating selves for the characters and yourself. This is what virtually all humans do. It is really great that you have discerned that something is up with this.....you might be able to study how this self making happens by being mindful while reading or watching.......I can introspect better when watching in that reading consumes too much of my mental concentration so it is hard for me to be mindful while reading. I think this is a great opportunity to directly experience some of the buddha's teachings......one that is usually overlooked.
chownah
P.S. Do you know what I mean when I talk about self making and fabricating selves? I sometimes think that everyone here knows what I'm talking about but some people don't.
chownah


Hey Chownah!

Yeah, I definitely know what you are talking about.
Some of the buddha's teachings... one of his central teachings, Anatta/no-self, isn't it?

I enjoy reading very much. Normally I don't get involved that much with the characters, or the involvement is less strong, more subtle. Probably because this is a book about love and I tend to read other genres usually. Also, the author and his writing seems to have quite a strong effect on me... I've read more books like this, but I usually wasn't that moved.

I'm not going to make a problem of it, but I am wondering how we as Buddhists should relate to this.
Thank you for your nice answer!

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Aloka
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:09 pm

At some point I lost interest in reading fiction ... and then on reflection, it seemed like a really odd way to have spent my time, getting lost in the make-believe,fantasies,and fear and tear jerking strategies of the writers of those books.

:)

Leon-nl
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Leon-nl » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:41 pm

Aloka wrote:At some point I lost interest in reading fiction ... and then on reflection, it seemed like a really odd way to have spent my time, getting lost in the make-believe,fantasies,and fear and tear jerking strategies of the writers of those books.

:)


Yeah, I know what you mean Aloka... I can see that too, but there is too much attachment to give it up...

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Kim OHara
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Kim OHara » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:53 pm

Something I've noticed over the last few years, since I got back to meditation after a very long gap, is that I seem to empathise more deeply with fictional characters (in books or movies) than I used to. I'm not sure if it's because my capacity for empathy has increased or if I am simply better at observing my own emotional states and noticing what always was going on, but I think that either way it is a good thing.
On the other hand, it has made me much pickier about what I choose to watch or read ... but that's probably a good thing, too.

:reading:
Kim

Feathers
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Feathers » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:27 pm

Fiction can teach us an awful lot :smile: I wouldn't throw it all away. And we're not trying to become Vulcans remember, we're allowed to feel, something has gone rather wrong if we don't!

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Aloka
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Aloka » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:58 pm

Feathers wrote:.... And we're not trying to become Vulcans remember, we're allowed to feel, something has gone rather wrong if we don't!


Here's a wise observation from the section "Thieves in Your Heart" from Ajahn Chah's "A still Forest Pool"....


2. Feelings. When pain and pleasure arise, we forget that they are impermanent, suffering, not self; we identify with our emotions and are thus tortured by our wrong understanding.

http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool.htm



:anjali:

Feathers
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Feathers » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:30 am

My understanding (admittedly limited) is that the trick is to feel without being caught up?

Leon-nl
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Leon-nl » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:28 pm

Feathers wrote:My understanding (admittedly limited) is that the trick is to feel without being caught up?


That's my understanding, too, but I'm not sure if that's right, "Feathers".

Pacific
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Re: Emotions when reading fiction...

Postby Pacific » Fri Sep 27, 2013 1:32 am

Of course you're "allowed " to have feelings. This is something that bothers me with many dhamma followers, esp in the Theravada. This kind of stoic, feelings-are-bad attitude you often get. It's wrong understanding. it's about developing a relationship with your feelings in a healthy way. For me, it's not just "there's no self so there's no feelings", that's just not correct. If you are practicing well you gain insight into feelings, and you can explore them in a meaningful way not push them aside or relegate them. The Buddha himself had feelings and he expressed them long after his awakening. It's fine to feel happy, angry, sad... if you can experience these through fiction so much the better because that's meant to happen.


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