Overcoming Obstacles and Negative Emotions

To engage in spiritual practices is to be reminded of temporal nature of life/death. Preciousness of human existence is at the core. Determination to action arises with sense of urgency, so that people may forget to be hungry and tired, but work on solving the issue.

When there is some sense of urgency you feel you must act and use every minute to overcome apathy to be aware of destructive effects of negative behavior. We want to change, but become accustomed/adapt to things and situations. Genuine change doesn’t happen overnight, but we can establish new behavior and new habits.

Strong driving mechanisms sustain and motivate us:

  • Biological needs for survival
  • Needs for information
  • Needs for success, power, achievement, spirituality, interaction

We are born in ignorance state but with education we can control negative states of mind (delusions) which afflict from within.

There are 3 main premises in Buddhism:

1.All states of mind are distorted reality.

2.Negative emotions are based on ignorance. Positive emotions are grounded, you can practice them and grow. Positive states of mind are antidotes of inflictive states of mind. The wisdom factor is true nature of reality.

3.Essential nature of mind is pure, clear light (Buddha nature).

This view is different from Western psychiatry as negative states are not natural in Buddhism. We can change our brain by practicing positive emotions, by cultivating them. We change our conditioning when we replace negative with positive emotions.

Anger and hatred are greatest obstacles of compassion. While anger in short –term could be useful, hatred is always negative, because your presence of mind and power of judgment disappear completely.

You should never let hatred within you, but cultivate antidotes like patience and tolerance which become forgiveness. Analyze proper response (constructive and destructive). Let go of your sense of anger and resentment because they just cause disturbance in your mind. It is not a sign of weakness but strength to have a self-disciplined mind, humility without retaliation is a strong stand out of compassion.

Human Potential

We have potential for Enlightenment, Buddha state, potential to deal with any difficulty. Religion should help remove suffering – not be source of it. Spirituality is a process of mental development.

There are two ways to realize human potential:

  1. Religion. Religious prayers are reminders how to deal with people and problems. Spirituality is not about reciting prayers/practice. It is about mindfulness: restrain yourself, when you want to hurt someone. Every experience is a learning experience; every person in your life is your teacher.
  2. Humanity(non-religious). Kindness, compassion, caring. Basic spirituality – goodness, this spirituality is essential. Religion has limited values, but humanity is universal.

Meditation to achieve stillness:

I will maintain a state without thoughts, withdraw mind inward, not chase thoughts, but come to full state of alertness, mindfulness, and consciousness and remain in natural, nurture state, like river or glass of water with clarity and luminosity. Finish with 3 rounds of breathing.

From the book The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

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