Buddhist Thought on Joy and Suffering
1) You actually DO have some control over your emotional destiny.
2) The core “conceptual” view of reality is that your inner emotional experience – especially negative afflictive emotional states related to people, places and things you REACT to – are perceived as totally true.
3) In a non-conceptual (non-dual) view, these emotional experiences may be based on some conventional realities and NOT based on ultimate realities. It is the SELF that is the experiencer of these conditions.
4) Gasoline and fire do not mix well – so do not make afflictive emotional states more severe and long-lasting by REACTING to your REACTIONS. This is simply secondary suffering. Stay out of the past – be present.
5) At the same time realize that thoughts are simply thoughts, and emotions are simply emotions – the automatic random firing of brain cells in response to some phenomenon inside or outside of you.
6) All the life experiences noted above are impermanent, and they have NO independent origination, that is they do not last and they do not come into existence by themselves. They are always “caused” by something else. So, your afflictive emotional states will not last, and they may be based on less-than-accurate perception of causes and effects. WHO is reacting about what? Keep the reaction going and end up suffering more.
7) In the enlightened wisdom view, “suchness” exists – in that everything is impermanent, dependent upon other causes, and empty of a fixed or permanent existence. Do your pleasant and unpleasant emotions last forever? NO! Can you make them stronger? YES! They do end.
8) The next time you suffer, think about impermanence, dependent arising, suchness, and ultimate emptiness of all things – then get up and keep going, emotionally. Remember there is more fluid and space in your mind-body system than hard matter. We are more empty than not.
Hopkins, J. (2008). (Ed.). Tsong Kha-Pa’s Final Exposition of Wisdom. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, pp. 56-58.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont
Author of Mindful Happiness
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