Dawn of Dharma Essentials, Part 3: Negative Emotions
In this teaching from a special Dharma-stream series on essential points of the Buddhadharma for Dawn of Dharma students, Phakchok Rinpoche explains how to work with the five negative emotions that are part of our everyday experiences. Rinpoche often teaches on this topic because transformation is the goal of Dharma practice. Understanding our negative emotions is the first part of that transformation process.
Negative Emotions Harm the Mind
Rinpoche explains that the Buddhist tradition emphasizes the mind. The mind is easily swayed by emotions. He suggests that we each choose one negative emotion and then examine how that emotion impacts our life. This may sound a bit boring because we look for fast and easy solutions.
But Rinpoche advises that we spend the time to dive a little deeper and learn how emotions such as anger affect us. When we carefully examine our minds, we find many small dislikes. If we think deeply about those, we can begin to recognize them as expressions of anger. How does this anger appear in our voices, on our faces or gazes, or in our physical bodies? Can we see how anger has the nature of heat?
Negative Emotions Can Be Hidden or Secret
Rinpoche explains how the negative emotions of jealousy and pride make us vulnerable. And these emotions are particularly tricky because the stay under the surface–they often are hidden. When we examine our own minds and characters we find it difficult to admit that we suffer from them. As we learn to train our minds, we can learn how to function holistically without leaning on these negative emotions. We are delusional about our own weaknesses, so it does take some time to uncover our hidden issues.
Similarly, attachment can manifest in ways that are hard to recognize. Many of us get attached to our own opinions or our way of doing things. We may not see that as attachment, but if we investigate we can see how big an issue it can be for us.
Ignorance or Not Seeing
The Buddha’s teaching contains many levels of explanation about ignorance. Rinpoche simplifies this by reminding us that ignorance means “not seeing”. We are not acknowledging our own habits or faults. When we don’t see these flaws, we won’t be able to change. But if we train ourselves to see and admit, then we can apply antidotes.
Suggestions for Additional Study
Try to work with the points that Rinpoche raises in this video and examine your own particular habits. You may also wish to explore how we train our minds through Samye Insitute’s introductory course, Training the Mind. In this short course consisting of four video teaching units, Rinpoche speaks more about how we can learn to transform our negative emotions with mind training. This course offers additional reflection exercises to help you investigate the interaction between the mind and emotions.
How do you understand the difference between anger and jealousy according to Rinpoche’s example? Do you experience the “microwave” nature of jealousy?
How does the definition of attachment make sense to you? Is this what you think of when you hear the word? Can you see how this applies in your own daily interactions with others?
Pick one emotion to examine for a week or a month. Can you keep an emotion diary? How does a particular negative emotion affect you? How does it feel in your body? Do you hide your emotion? If you look carefully, can you see how that emotion shows its face in your posture, your face, and your tone of voice?