I was very intrigued by this question when I read it on various web Q & A platforms, and even more so by the answers to it! It made me pause & wonder about what the purest form of emotion might be.
I’d love for you to engage with this article as if we’re on an exploration together!
We’ll look at a few common responses I came across, and then we’ll talk about the psychology of emotions, what a pure emotion might be, and what the purest form of human emotion is.
The Purest Emotion!
This question needs to be understood at multiple levels. Like, what does a pure emotion mean? To understand that we might need to understand how emotions work. Another layer here is the probable intention behind such a question. On investigating these layers, you will see that all emotions can be both, pure and impure. The article takes you on a journey of investigating this question along with me!
They Say Revenge Is The Purest Emotion!
I came across a few blog posts and comments where some people claim that The Mahābhārata, one of the two major epics of ancient India in Hinduism, states that revenge is the purest emotion.
Their arguments to justify their claim, in my opinion, don’t hold much weight as they use arguments like, “Any other emotion can get mixed with others and get corrupted…But Revenge always stays pure.”
Let’s start with investigating who in Mahabharata said that revenge is the purest emotion.
When we investigate, we find that the actual dialogue is, “Revenge is not always better, but neither is forgiveness; learn to know them both so that there is no problem.”
This was said by Draupadi, a character, in the Mahābhārata. If a character in a story says something do you conclude that dialogue to be the moral of the story? Hopefully not!
Some folks, like Karthick Vaidynathan on Quora, agree with me. He says the same thing: “A character in Mahabharatha said this!! It does not mean it is the purest emotion.”
Is Love The Purest Emotion?
The article, Love – The Purest Emotion, simply states in the first sentence that love is simple, pure and beautiful.
It then goes on to share misconceptions of love, but it never really touches on why love is the purest.
I’m sure it isn’t the only article to claim love to be the purest emotion. In fact, I’m pretty positive that many people must feel that love has to be the purest emotion!
I’ll say two things here:
1. The idea of love has been romanticized in our culture.
2. If 1 is true (and it is true!), then one can assume that most people’s idea of love is probably not really love at all, but a romanticized version of it!
The next common question people tend to ask in the category of love is about the purest form of love.
What Is The Purest Form Of Love?
I’ve heard varied answers, with most of them falling within two broad categories:
1. Maternal love
2. The true love of lovers
While the answers focus on what the purest form of love is – which is basically the writer’s personal opinion – none talk about what makes it so, how they know, or any logical line of reasoning.
The logical reasoning that many people use when talking about love is that you’ve just got to feel it!
I completely agree with the “got to feel it” part. However, this doesn’t help us answer whether love is the purest emotion.
Could It Be Contentment?
The blog, Which is the purest emotion?, states that all emotions lead to contentment in the end. While the blogger doesn’t specifically state that contentment is the purest, the reader can infer so.
They share that all emotions can be divided into positive or negative, but that every single one of them is tainted by other emotions except satisfaction or contentment because, according to them, “Every single emotion can be tracked to satisfaction.”
Now, while I personally really like the idea of satisfaction being the “purest” emotion, one, I’m not sure if satisfaction is an emotion or a state of being. Two, I don’t find every single emotion leading to satisfaction!
Do you? I mean, sure, at times an anger outburst can be satisfying (LOL), but only temporarily.
What Could It Then Be?!
Okay! So it’s not revenge, or love, or satisfaction. What then? What other emotions are there? Let’s try to name them all, shall we?
Happiness, pride, lust, despair, sadness, anger, disgust, joy, surprise, contempt, envy, jealousy, amusement, elation, hope, affection, disappointment, phew!
I could keep going on and on naming different emotions, but I think that would take a while! Let’s do this another way, shall we?
What Does A “Pure” Emotion Mean?
The word pure means unadulterated. For ex., pure milk would mean that the milk that was milked from the cow hasn’t been mixed with anything else other than itself!
If I were to venture a definition of “pure emotion” it would read something like: Pure emotion is an emotion that isn’t mixed with any other thought or emotion.
This definition could be perfected on paper, but the real question is – Is it truly ever possible to feel an emotion without any other thought or emotion present?
Let’s briefly look at what we know about emotions before we conclude our finding of the purest emotion.
The Psychology Of Emotion
Various researchers have proposed theories about basic human emotions, like Ekman, who claimed there are six basic emotions: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust.
However, there are other researchers, like A. Ortony & T. J. Turner, who question this view, “raising the possibility that this position is an article of faith rather than an empirically or theoretically defensible basis for the conduct of emotion research.”
All this to say that emotions are a little more complex than we may think they are.
What many would agree on is that emotions usually involve three aspects: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a (covert or overt) behavioral response.
So, what is the question, “What is the purest form of emotion?” really asking?
If you pause and try to see behind the words of the question, the real question might show itself to you.
The questioner likely has the mindset of categorizing things, such as, good or bad, best or worst, better than or lesser than, and pure or impure.
And so in asking this question, the questioner probably is hoping to find out which emotion they should imbibe & cultivate with confidence in it being the “purest”, or the best.
Does this make sense?
If someone tells us the best thing to do – and we believe it – then the mind relaxes a tad, as it no more feels confused. Instead, it now has a direction to work towards with faith & confidence that it’s on the right track.
What Is The Purest Form Of Human Emotion, Again?
This question has a “both/ and” answer. Allow me to share what I mean.
Every emotion is impure because no emotion exists in vacuum. Every single emotion is accompanied by thoughts, memories, and few other emotions. Thus, in our overall experience it would seem “impure” as we would experience other accompanying factors along with it.
Every emotion is pure because even when other factors – thoughts, memories, & other emotions – are present, while your overall experience may be a mix of all the different factors, you will be experiencing each of the factors as they are, pure in & of themselves, unadulterated.
Both these are true, and both these co-exist. Such are both/ and scenarios.
P.S. If you’re ready to deep dive into yourself to resolve emotional stuckness, heal relational wounds, and cultivate a deeper relationship with yourself, I’d love to see if I can be of support.
Book your Inner-Work Strategy Call with me to explore your current emotional-relational struggles and put together a bit of a roadmap for your situation.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
- Revenge, love, contentment – or for that matter any emotion – is both pure & impure at the same time.
- It’s pure because, no matter what, you’ll experience the emotion as is – the subtlest experience of it cannot be adulterated.
- It’s impure because no emotion exists in vacuum. Your overall experience will always be a mix of various factors – thoughts, memories, & other accompanying emotions.
- The person asking such a question probably categorizes things as good vs bad, best vs worst, pure vs impure.
I hope you enjoyed this investigation ride? What do you think of our current conclusion?
I’m curious to read your thoughts, questions, and comments!
You might also enjoy What Are The 8 Difficult Feelings? – find out if Dr. Rosenberg’s 8 feelings are indeed THE 8 Feelings!
Let me know in the comments below if there is any question or dilemma that you’d like to investigate alongside me 🙂