Befriending Our Emotional Nature

อาจารย์ สุนทรา

Befriending Our Emotional Nature

Walking the Path isn’t hard in and of itself. But it is hard for the sense of self, that illusory entity called ‘me’ who is so resistant to liberation. Again, this self is a collection of habits, it’s not a fault. You don’t have a ‘me’ because you wanted one. It just happened. You didn’t want to have an ego, a deluded ego which you may hate right now: ‘My personality – I’m terrible!’ We are very good at self-denigration; indeed, it may even have a comfortable feeling.

So how can we start befriending our emotional nature? Perhaps at first the head leads. We know what to do, we may have read all the teachings on emotions and we are filled with good intentions. Then as Dhamma practice becomes part of our life, we draw closer to our heart. This may be frightening because the heart has a soft, vulnerable, fluid quality, unlike the mental energy in our head, which can be hard and quite rigid. When we come into the heart area we begin to be in touch with a much more nebulous world as we move from the mental energy towards a more sensitive aspect of our mind and body.

We begin to feel and connect with our emotional experience directly, without confusion. We discover that in the realm of emotions things are much less defined. There are no clear partitions and boundaries. Emotions can be treacherous because they can spread and affect other beings. For a mind which is attached to logic and intellectual clarity, practice can be difficult, because seeing clearly has nothing to do with having an idea about things; it is the ability to see things as they are, here and now, with presence of mind.

As we become very present with our emotions, it’s amazing how this presence of mind can cool down our reactions in a very natural way. Just by staying fully present when emotions arise, we can witness how they change and fade away. Whereas if we are not aware of this straightaway, our emotions can turn into an enormous story involving ‘me’ and ‘him’, and ‘them’ and ‘us’, and ‘how dare you?’ Then emotions can become a mountain of problems.

But I’m sure none of us want to have a mountain of problems. We don’t ask for them, they just happen to us. This is anattā. There is no self in control, just the results of habits. When we say,’I wish I was not so angry. I wish I was not so jealous’, we still think we’re in control of our emotions, but actually we are not.

We are only in control when we start looking at them through the lens of mindfulness and clear understanding. In Dhamma practice, mindfulness and clear seeing are simply allowed to take charge. When we are able to look at ourselves in that calm, quiet light of mindfulness, without judgement, compassion naturally arises and we can accept ourselves just as we are. That moment is a complete acceptance of what is.

This reflection by Ajahn Sundara is an excerpt from the Dhamma talk, “The Wisdom of Emotions,” (Amavarati Articles or Forest Sangha Newsletter #93, 2014 (pdf) p. 21.)

Befriend Every Guest at the Door

อัยยา เมธานันทิ

Befriend Every Guest at the Door

Last year, at the start of my three-month retreat, I woke up deaf one morning. Prescribed steroids, it would be six weeks before I could have an MRI to confirm whether there was a tumour. For years, I had been the one to counsel and encourage others during illness and loss. Now, alone and in silence, could I walk my talk? I fought to maintain the simple rhythm of each day, cleaning, meditating, ch…

A Huge Range of Possibilities

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

A Huge Range of Possibilities

One way of inducing rapture is to ask yourself, “Which parts of the body right now feel relaxed or even just okay?” When you breathe in, can they maintain that quality of feeling okay, or is there a little squeeze on them? Try noticing your hands. You breathe in, breathe out, and does the flow of energy at any point in the breath cycle put a squeeze on the hands—on any of the muscles in any part o…

Open to Possibilities

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Open to Possibilities

One of the main purposes of listening to the Dhamma is to get a sense of possibilities. We read the life of the Buddha to get a sense of what a human being can do, but all too often his story seems to be off there in never-never land, something someone far away in a far distant time was able to do. But to what extent is it relevant to us? To what extent can we make it relevant to what we’re doing?…

The Divine Mantra

อาจารย์ ลี

The Divine Mantra

I have written this book, The Divine Mantra, as a means of drawing to purity those who practice the Dhamma, because the chant given here brings benefits to those who memorize and recite it, inasmuch as it deals directly with matters that exist in each of us. Normally, once we are born, we all dwell in the six properties. These properties are brought together by our own actions, both good and evil.…

Giving Up Ourselves

อาจารย์ ถิรธัมโม

Giving Up Ourselves

Generosity is the primary foundation of Buddhist practice. Outwardly people give things, they make offerings, but this act is ultimately based on the giving up of the self, about letting go of self- identity. It starts off practically, as making gestures by giving things we would normally think belong to us: my food, my possessions or my money. However, behind this is the attitude of giving up our…

I Care about You Because…

อาจารย์ อมโร

I Care about You Because…

One of the ways that the Buddha spoke about stream entry—the irreversible breakthrough to realization of the Dhamma—was as a “change of lineage.” The phrase relates to the idea that “I am a personality; this is me, this is mine, this is what I am.” This belief is called sakkayaditthi, or “personality view.” And as long as “I am the body,” then of course Pat Horner and Tom Horner are my parents. Bu…

Rushing to Get Somewhere Else

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

Rushing to Get Somewhere Else

Becoming whole and staying connected is a matter of relating to our head, body and heart in a balanced and peaceful way. ‘Things are like this now.’ Even when we feel sick or bad or confused, if we relate to that experience for what it is, as a condition and not as something that we are – isn’t that a way to be at peace; a way that has clarity and freedom? On the other hand, even when things aren’…

The Nature of Welfare

อาจารย์ ชยสาโร

The Nature of Welfare

As samanas we seek to imbue our actions with a reverence for life, a spirit of kindheartedness, benevolence and altruism. And we learn to make that reverence for life unqualified. The sanctity of life, and the potential of all beings for awakening forms the basis for the 227 precepts of the Buddhist monastic code. When Ajahn Chah asked Ajahn Mun about the discipline and voiced his fears that there…

Ethics, Kindness, and Wisdom

อาจารย์ สุจิตโต

Ethics, Kindness, and Wisdom

Generosity is the easiest and happiest way to enter the experience of mutuality. It defies the logic of greed by accessing the happiness of the heart when it is bringing forth rather than holding on. Morality is the principle of acknowledging that others count as much as I do. It grants respect for self and others, and the qualities of a mind that has no deceit, vindictiveness or remorse show us t…