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Emotions, feelings....

Ok, this post is not scientific. It´s just about a curious difference of thinking in using numbers in India/Tibet and the West.

The post is about the approximate number of "afflictive emotions" as counted in the West and in Tibet. This is about ballpark numbers.

The West

Here we go in the West:

  • 4-5 basis emotions, including glad: Mad, sad, glad, scared (and perhaps guilty/shamed)

The term "emotion" isn´t that well defined, and there are scientific debates of whether they are universal or not (e.g. Feldman-Barrett, 2018).

Then, some researchers have come up with different definitions. For example, Douglas Tataryn has identified

  • 9 or more "core feelings"

  • 31 "relational feelings" (Tataryn, n.d.)

Core feelings are your emotional brain's perception or best guess of your relational status with the people with whom you are interacting. According to my research, your brain is designed to "feel" this status as one or more of 9 core feelings.

Examples: significant, insignificant, value, worthless..

Relational feelings are also called inter-personal feelings. They describe the emotional energy you experience between yourself and other people, or yourself and the world.

Examples of negative relational feelings: rejected, dismissed, disappointed, violated, judged...

These examples are not meant to be exhaustive. There are many lists of positive and negative feelings. However, none of them reach the numbers in Tibet....


This is what you get when you deeply meditate: you perceive more. Or, you dream up more (Mtshan et al., 2021, p. 610):

  • 5 root afflictive emotions: hate, ignorance, pride, desire, jealousy

  • 52 subsidiary afflictive emotions

  • 84.000 ancillary afflictive emotions

Hate, for example, consists of 21.000 ancillary emotions.

Of course, I don´t think that one has to take the 84.000 ancillary emotions in Tibet at face value. The idea that we can differentiate between 84.000 emotions sounds like taken from a Science Fiction novel about another race on another planet. On Earth, there has probably not been a survival value to that number of gradients.

Also, the definition of emotion in Tibet is different. Mostly, these "emotions" are intellectual stances. For example, the subsidiary afflictive emotion #12, ignorance: "Ignorance is whatever unclarity there is about what is true". (Mtshan et al., 2021, p. 612)


Feldman-Barrett, L. (2018). How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain (Main Market ed.) [E-book]. Pan.

Mtshan, S. R. B. ’. S. R., Brown, D. P., & Gurung, S. (2021). The Precious Treasury of the Expanse and Awakened Awareness. Penguin Random House.

Tataryn, D. (n.d.). What Is Emotional Processing? The Bio-Emotive Framework.

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