August 11, 2010

Buddhist Haters Gonna Hate!

How to Control Your Emotions and Reach Zen!

Live with a Zen-Like attitude!

Find your bliss!

Feel compassion towards all beings!*

Control your emotions and reach Zen? What a load. Control your emotions? You mean don’t feel what you don’t want and only feel what you do?

I see a lot of this floating around in one form or another. Banishing negative emotions and nurturing the positive.

I’m here to tell you, folks, there are no negative or positive emotions. There are emotions and there are ways you can use those emotions. Any emotion can be abused and lead to some pretty bad shizzle. But just for giggles, let’s look at a list of Does and Don’ts.

The Don’t Feels:

  • Anger or fear. Fight or flight. Your heart races, blood pressure goes up and adrenaline courses through your veins. Your behavior patterns warn an aggressor to stop their threatening behavior. Sometimes, you kick some ass (or have your ass kicked) and sometimes you hide (and still get your ass kicked). Why is anger and fear a problem? Because it reduces your ability to self-monitor and destroys objective observability. But fear and anger can each be used to round up the psychological troops and take corrective action. And unless someone jumps out at you from behind a dumpster, you can see fear and anger coming at you from a mile away allowing you to remove yourself from the situation before things escalate. Or maybe even using those emotions to fix the situation (sometimes an ass needs to be kicked, you know).
  • Hatred. A strong feeling of dislike, sometimes accompanied with anger or fear. It’s a repulsion from an item, person or situation. Experience anger or fear in a similar situation, person or object and you will likely feel hatred (or at least repulsion) the next go round. But is hatred useful? Is being repulsed an okay thing to feel? I hate melons. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, whatever. I’m not saying that I get angry when it’s served. Nor do I run and hide under the bed. But knowing that I hate melons means I ask they be left out of the fruit salad at First Watch. That’s pretty useful since my dining partners might not want to watch me wretch.
  • Jealousy. Fear of loss. This emotion is seen as one manifestation of attachment so it’s difficult to go into jealousy without going into attachment, which I won’t. But I will say that feeling jealousy is a protective reaction to a perceived threat to a valued relationship. Is it okay to value a relationship? Is it okay to protect that relationship? Of course there are times when you can be too jealous. But having no jealousy is suspicious when you are in a relationship.

The Do Feels:

  • Bliss. A state of profound satisfaction, happiness, joy, undisturbed by gain or loss. Like everyday, 24/7, non-stop bliss. To every situation. “You shot my cat? AH! Come in for tea!” Bliss. Who wants this? Is not the point to live a realized life? Is banishing all other emotions for bliss the way to go? Let’s say a potential client walks into your office and you look at him all “la-la-la.” Guess who walks out! And guess who gets fired. Guess your cat doesn’t need cat food, huh (oh wait, it was shot earlier)? Forcing yourself into a state of anything is forcing yourself into something regardless of the situation. That’s not Zen. That’s just stupid.
  • Equanimity. Composure arising from a sense of being removed from daily life. “He’s all Zen.” Like nothing shakes him because he realizes that none of this is real. And, as you know, Zen is all about escapism, right? No, it’s not about escaping the drudgery. It’s not about being an actor pretending to live the life of a mere mortal. It’s about being engaged in your daily life, experiencing each moment as it truly is. True equanimity, like compassion, is not an emotional state. Rather, it’s a response that you have to situations including changes you have in emotional states. Equanimity means that all of your thoughts and emotions have equal footing.
  • Compassion. Acting with empathy and sympathy towards the suffering of others. Did you catch that? Acting. Compassion really isn’t an emotional state either. It’s an action. Or, rather, a reaction to perceived suffering. I have all too often seen people confuse “compassion” with “I feel sorry for you and want you to be happy, too!” This is not compassion. This is wishing bliss on people. Compassion, right here, right now, would be you clicking “reply” and correcting my mistakes. In a kind manner, of course.

My point here isn’t to say that you should embrace anger and fear while pushing aside happiness and compassion. Instead, embrace all of your emotions equally and feel them. Then when you are done, be done.

When you are angry, be angry.
When anger is gone, put angry down.
When you are feeling joy, feel joy.
When you are done with joy, put joy down.

While you are feeling them, use them to end suffering. Feel your emotions and act with compassion.

Besides, trying to make yourself not feel emotions is like trying to not blink when they puff that air at your eye when checking your glaucoma.

*Real results from searching Zen and Emotions.

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