Negative emotions: no miracle cures, but solutions

- through Francois Leclercq

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“To accept our negative emotions as if they were inherent components of the mind is a mistake. They are not based on any real basis. If this were not the case, we could not act on them. We can, on the contrary, transform them and free ourselves from them, because the true nature of our spirit is made up of love and compassion. If we take this into account and develop these qualities, we diminish the power and influence of negative mental states on our lives. »Tenzin Gyatso

Ado, this is included in the package of age, the emotions arouse an intoxication which, if not always pleasant, makes you feel alive to the end of your heart, and helps to forget the pain of living in a skin and a changing psyche. As the years pass, this submission to emotions becomes heavier as the need for serenity, joy and love progresses. Buddhist psychology, a highly developed branch of this tradition, has become a master in the art of studying, understanding and working with emotions. More than 2500 years of texts, of training the mind, of deciphering the mind, have gone through this. Jung drew a lot of inspiration from it.

I'm alive, I experience emotions: yes, but what do I do with them?

The process obeys as always the law of cause and effect: positive, they cause effects of the same order. Conflicting, disruptive, it's the other way around. But, far from rejecting the latter, Buddhism, realistic and pragmatic, uses them to transform them into their opposite. This rational approach is based on the law of impermanence, omnipresent in this tradition, to put conflicting emotions into perspective. Nothing lasts, nothing exists in itself, everything is transformed, says this law, so why should we waste energy and time practicing the policy of the ostrich by rejecting, denying or reinforcing, suddenly of guilt, states of being that dominate us, punctually? We are all subject to change, which we also experience. The Buddhist is a sculptor of emotions, they form his basic material, to make his mind a work of art. It's sometimes long, tedious, complex, but it doesn't matter how long it takes to accomplish. What counts is the motivation that pushes you to undertake, to never give up and to remain humbly the creator of your existence.

How to work with negative emotions?

To work with the material made up of negative emotions is first of all to experience them fully in order to experience an energy, a force, which is often beyond us. To experience in the Buddhist sense of the term is to experiment with their effects, to note them mentally, and to patiently go back, in consciousness, in a neutral and factual way, the path which connects them to their original cause. The simple fact of unfolding in this way the causes, conditions and effects that led to creating and undergoing emotions that are sources of suffering, leads, quite naturally, to renouncing them by following the recommendations of the masters. The first is to practice replacing them with positive emotions, kindness, compassion, empathy, generosity, altruism… This is the system of antidotes. Two contrary emotions such as hate and love cannot coexist at the same time in the space of our mind, we use the energy of one to transmute it into its opposite.

The Buddhist is a sculptor of emotions, they form his basic material, to make his mind a work of art.

The second teaches how to develop a vigilant presence to what is. “Vigilance is the rope that symbolically ties the mind to reality,” says a Buddhist teaching. It is thanks to it that consciousness manifests itself in the present and that our vision of the world, transformed, can gradually take into account the reality of the law of cause and effect. In fact, it then seems easier to accept that the circumstances encountered, “good or bad”, become great springboards for training the mind in the banality of everyday life.

Directing negative emotions differently is the basis, a preliminary step on the Buddhist path. I remember what one of the few female Vajrayana Buddhist masters, the Venerable Kandro Ripoche, said to me when I asked her what she thought of the fact that many Westerners believe that Buddhism serves to cure them of their lack of affective and their neuroses. His answer was uncompromising: “Catherine, if you have a physical or mental health problem, you go see the doctor! It's the same in Buddhism, before accessing what is the essence of Buddhism, you have to start by “taking care of yourself”. All is said. To achieve this and chase away confusion and mental darkness, Buddhism encourages one to engage in study, contemplation and meditation. For the best of course. For, as the XNUMXth Dalai Lama said, “Violence stems from anger, and anger clouds our ability to think properly and properly assess what is happening. Anger is linked to fear and anxiety. What we need to learn is how to cultivate the positive emotions that counter the destructive emotions like anger and fear. Compassion, for example, brings self-confidence and the ability to act transparently. It reinforces the confidence which is the ground of friendship »

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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