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Lessening the Power of Negative Emotions

--by The Dalai Lama (Oct 19, 2015)


I profoundly believe that real spiritual change comes about not by merely praying or wishing that all negative aspects of our minds disappear and all positive aspects blossom. It is only by our concerted effort, an effort based on an understanding of how the mind and its various emotional and psychological states interact, that we bring about true spiritual progress. If we wish to lessen the power of negative emotions, we must search for the causes that give rise to them. We must work at removing or uprooting those causes. At the same time, we must enhance the mental forces that counter them: what we might call their antidotes. This is how a meditator must gradually bring about the mental transformation he or she seeks.

How do we undertake this? First we identify our particular virtue's opposing factors. The opposing factor of humility would be pride or vanity. The opposing factor of generosity would be stinginess. After identifying these factors, we must endeavor to weaken and undermine them. While we are focused on these opposing factors, we must also be fanning the flames of the virtuous quality we hope to internalize. When we feel most stingy, we must make an extra effort to be generous. When we feel impatient or judgmental, we must do our utmost to be patient.

When we recognize how our thoughts have particular effects upon our psychological states, we can prepare ourselves for them. We will then know that when one state of mind arises, we must counter it in a particular way; and if another occurs, we must act appropriately. When we see our mind drifting toward angry thoughts of someone we dislike, we must catch ourselves; we must change our mind by changing the subject. It is difficult to hold back from anger when provoked unless we have trained our mind to first recollect the unpleasant effects such thoughts will cause us. It is therefore essential that we begin our training in patience calmly, not while experiencing anger. We must recall in detail how, when angry, we lose our peace of mind, how we are unable to concentrate on our work, and how unpleasant we become to those around us. It is by thinking long and hard in this manner that we eventually become able to refrain from anger.

One renowned Tibetan hermit limited his practice to watching his mind. He drew a black mark on the wall of his room whenever he had an unvirtuous thought. Initially his walls were all black; however, as he became more mindful, his thoughts became more virtuous and white marks began to replace the black ones. We must apply similar mindfulness in our daily lives.

Excerpted from "An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life", by The Dalai Lama, edited by Nicholas Vreeland. 

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6 Previous Reflections:

 
On Oct 21, 2015 Aruna wrote:

 I  feel being angry and hurling vituperative epithets gives momentary relief giving us a false feel of putting others in place by our decibel power. But over a period of time, we realise being composed is more important than being caustically correct. I at times withdraw into a shell of silence when there are angry vibes all around, and at other times I isolate myself from that negative mood by not being a part of it. Angry thinking or demonstration of bouts of anger only empowers others, I tell myself.  So my way of anger control mechanism is to let others vent out their negative emotion and tell them how wrong they are at a later stage when the  anger cools down. 



On Oct 20, 2015 AJ wrote:

 Jesus helps me lesson negative emotions.  When I think about Him, there is absolute POSITIVITY.  Jesus took everything "negative" to His Father.  Holy Spirit intervened ... to bring about the Power to overcome evil with good.  There is power in the name of Jesus.  I call upon Him daily!   



On Oct 20, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 What choices do I make that drain and deplete my energy and the energy of others? This is a very important mindfulness question for me. Negative thoughts and negative emotions drain my energy. Positive thoughts and positive emotions enhance my energy. They also result in negative and positive actions hurting or healing me and hurting or healing others. The other is me and I am the other. We are all connected with each other.My intention is to understand the causes of hurting or healing energy, replacing the causes of hurting energy  with positive energy and enhancing the ways of healing energy. I practice mindfulness for recognizing the patterns of thoughts that create negative energy. I do not suppress or use defense mechanisms to stay away from them. I  observe them , let them come and go.If positive thoughts and feelings come, I observe them, let them come and let them go.This kind of mindfulness processing of my inner world of thoughts and feelings helps me to be f  See full.

 What choices do I make that drain and deplete my energy and the energy of others? This is a very important mindfulness question for me. Negative thoughts and negative emotions drain my energy. Positive thoughts and positive emotions enhance my energy. They also result in negative and positive actions hurting or healing me and hurting or healing others. The other is me and I am the other. We are all connected with each other.My intention is to understand the causes of hurting or healing energy, replacing the causes of hurting energy  with positive energy and enhancing the ways of healing energy.

I practice mindfulness for recognizing the patterns of thoughts that create negative energy. I do not suppress or use defense mechanisms to stay away from them. I  observe them , let them come and go.If positive thoughts and feelings come, I observe them, let them come and let them go.This kind of mindfulness processing of my inner world of thoughts and feelings helps me to be free from getting stuck with the negative thoughts and emotions.I sense the change of energy in my body, mind and heart.It makes me whole and wholesome.

May we work on ourselves mindfully to be connected with ourselves and others and create experience goodness in our life!

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave

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On Oct 20, 2015 Sunil, Bangalore wrote:

My strategy is to cultivate the root(soul)for the blossoming tree. The faith & the firm conviction is in the fact that all human souls are  divine, full of Love,power,compassion,joy, friendship & harmony without any exception.   Very careful to anything contrary happening/arising ,go back to the above Universal Truth and control the mind. Yes difficult but not impossible if one is serious.Pesistance and perseverance pays.Meditate with open eyes on the visualization of this  reality. Lastly surrender to HIM i.e. your own true self earnestly.



On Oct 19, 2015 megan wrote:

Meditation mindfulness teaches is not to judge thoughts because we don't want to get into contracted resistance -- how does undermining the opposing virtue fit with this..?



On Oct 18, 2015 david doane wrote:

My first thought is Gandhi's well-known statement to "Be the change you want to see in the world."  The strategy of reducing the opposing factor while fanning the flames of the virtuous quality makes total sense to me.  Neglect the negative behavior, replace it with positive behavior, and repeat the positive behavior.  It takes effort and diligence.  Really, is there another way?  As I get older and hopefully a little wiser, I often refrain from anger that I would have fostered in the past.  What helps me refrain from anger is my becoming convinced that anger is not necessary.  I can express other ways, including disagree, object, assert, walk away, do whatever a different way.  I become most angry at myself -- I'm still working on eliminating that one.  Reminding myself through reflection and meditation that we are one and we are each expressions of One Source lessens negative emotions in me and fans the flames of compassion, and my feelin  See full.

My first thought is Gandhi's well-known statement to "Be the change you want to see in the world."  The strategy of reducing the opposing factor while fanning the flames of the virtuous quality makes total sense to me.  Neglect the negative behavior, replace it with positive behavior, and repeat the positive behavior.  It takes effort and diligence.  Really, is there another way?  As I get older and hopefully a little wiser, I often refrain from anger that I would have fostered in the past.  What helps me refrain from anger is my becoming convinced that anger is not necessary.  I can express other ways, including disagree, object, assert, walk away, do whatever a different way.  I become most angry at myself -- I'm still working on eliminating that one.  Reminding myself through reflection and meditation that we are one and we are each expressions of One Source lessens negative emotions in me and fans the flames of compassion, and my feeling better for being that way keeps me going.

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