Collected Quotations on:
Emotions, delusions, afflictions
Monks, there are beings who suffer not from disease
of body for 1 year, for 2 years... even for 100 years. But it is
hard to find in the world beings who can admit freedom from mental
disease even for one moment, save only those who have destroyed
Anguttara Nikaya (A.II:143); Samyutta Nikaya (S.III.:2)
Do not think lightly of evil that not the least consequence will come
of it. A
whole waterpot will fill up from dripping drops of water. A fool fills himself
with evil, just a little at a time.
Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.
Do everything with a mind that lets go. Do not expect any praise or reward.
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you
will have a lot of peace. If you let go completely, you will know complete peace
and freedom. Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.
Someone commented, I can observe desire and aversion in my mind, but
its hard to observe delusion.
You're riding on a horse and asking where the
horse is! was Ajahn Chah's reply.
Just know yourself, this is your witness. Don't make decisions on the
strength of your desires. Desires can puff us up into thinking we are something
which we're not. We must be very circumspect.
Do not underestimate your ability.
The more we generate an attitude of contentment in our lives, the happier we
will be and the more open we will be to engage in genuine Dharma practice. Letting
go of the eight worldly concerns brings mental peace right now.
The defining characteristic of a thought or action being Dharma is whether
or not we're attached to the happiness of this life. The eight worldly concerns
are completely involved with attachment to the happiness of this life. How can
we practice genuine Dharma when our self-centered mind is fixated on getting
our own way and making everyone and everything around us suit our preferences
That doesn't mean the happiness of this life is bad or wrong. The Buddha did
not say that we should suffer in this life so that we'll get our reward in heaven.
The objects we're attached to and have aversion for aren't the problem; there's
nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure and happiness. Those aren't the issue.
Rather, attachment to pleasant feelings and to the people, objects, and situations
that cause them, and aversion to unpleasant ones—it is these emotions
that create trouble. They make us unhappy and propel us to harm others in order
to get what we want. The troublemakers of attachment and hostility are what
we want to abandon, not people and things. There is nothing wrong with being
happy. But when we're attached to it, we actually create more unhappiness for
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, from 'How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator'
We're all mentally ill.
We're all delusional.
We'r all junkies.
It's just a matter of degree.
Ven. Robina Courtin
Fixed ideas are like a wisp of cloud or smoke, but nonetheless people find
themselves blocked or captured by these. You would laugh if you saw someone
tripped by a cloud, or if someone claimed that they were imprisoned by the air.
But, in fact, people are endlessly being trapped by things no more substantial
than air or clouds. They make a wall with their mind, and then it imprisons
them. Inherently, there is no wall or anything to trip over. These things are
mirages they've created from the thoughts they gave rise to.
Do not insist upon your own fixed ideas. Your persistence is your own narrow
mind. If your mind is broad, it can easily embrace the entire world. However,
if your mind is narrow, even a needle cannot enter. You have to keep letting
go of your stubbornness, and always be deeply respectful of all life and things.
This is returning to and relying upon the Buddha-Dharma. This is also how to
become a free person. Always be humble. Be humble. The fragrance of your broad
and generous mind will warm others' hearts.
Master Daehaeng, No River to Cross: Trusting the Enlightenment that's Always Right Here
What appear to be faults in others
may actually be reflections of our own emotional afflictions.
I recognize that the ultimate teaching of sutra and tantra
Is emptiness, but can’t make use of that recognition;
My mindstream stays hard as horn.
When I practice remaining in mind’s true condition
I am without stability, yet I mouth off about the profound view
And toss cause and effect to the winds.
On the outside—I can give a show of good behavior;
On the inside— desire, attachment, greed rage like fire.
HH Dudjom Rinpoche
Dharma practitioners must tame their consciousness.
|They must put out the fire of hatred with the water of love.
They must cross over the river of attachment on the bridge built with the strength of the antidotes.
They must light up the darkness of ignorance with the lamp of awareness.
They must overturn the rocky mountain of pride with the lever of effort.
They must escape from the red tide of jealousy by donning the lifejacket of patience.
Remember : If you lose yourself in the light of the five poisons, your consciousness will be corrupted.
Exult in not giving in to any of the five poisons
Zhechen Gyaltsab, from Path of Heros Volume II
In the way that a gardener knows how to transform
compost into flowers,
we can learn the art of transforming anger, depression, and racial discrimination into love and understanding.
This is the work of meditation.
Thich Nhat Hanh from "Touching
Do not have opinions
in other people's actions
When we see defects in others, people in general
but particularly those who have entered the Dharma, who are the banner of the
monastic robes, are the support for the offerings of gods and men alike, we should
understand that it is the impurity of our perception which is at fault. When we
look into a mirror, we see a dirty face because our own face is dirty. In the
same way, the effects of others are nothing but our impure way of seeing them.
By thinking this way, we should try to rid ourselves of this perception of the
faults of other, and cultivate the attitude whereby the whole of existence, all
appearances, are experienced as pure.
Dilgo Khyentse, from Enlightened Courage
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
We have a saying in Tibet that engaging in the practice of virtue is as hard as driving a donkey uphill, whereas engaging in destructive activities is as easy as rolling boulders downhill. It is also said that negative impulses arise as spontaneously as rain and gather momentum just like water following the course of gravity. What makes matters worse is our tendency to indulge negative thoughts and emotions even while agreeing that we should not. It is essential, therefore, to address directly our tendency to put things off and while away our time in meaningless activities and shrink from the challenge of transforming our habits on the grounds that it is too great a task. In particular, it is important not to allow ourselves to be put off by the magnitude of others' suffering. The misery of millions is not a cause for pity. Rather it is a cause for developing compassion.
We must also recognize that the failure to act when it is clear that action is required may itself be a negative action....inaction is attributable less to negative thoughts and emotions as to a lack of compassion. It is thus important that we are no less determined to overcome our habitual tendency to laziness than we are to exercise restraint in response to afflictive emotion.
Ethics for the New Millennium
Laziness comes in many forms, all of which result in procrastination, putting off practice to another time. Sometimes laziness is a matter of being distracted from meditation by morally neutral activities, like sewing or considering how to drive from one place to another; this type of laziness can be especially pernicious because these thoughts and activities are not usually recognized as problems.
At other times, laziness manifests as distraction to thinking about nonvirtuous activities, such as an object of lust or how to pay an enemy back. Another type of laziness is the sense that you are inadequate to the task of meditation, feeling inferior and discouraged: "How could someone like me ever achieve this!" In this case you are failing to recognize the great potential of the human mind and the power of gradual training.
All of these forms of laziness involve being unenthusiastic about meditation. How can they be overcome? Contemplation of the advantages of attaining mental and physical flexibility will generate enthusiasm for meditation and counteract laziness. Once you have developed the meditative joy and bliss of mental and physical flexibility, you will be able to stay in meditation for as long as you want. At that time your mind will be completely trained so you can direct it to any virtuous activity; all dysfunctions of body and mind will have been cleared away.
How to See Yourself As You Really Are
Those whom we ordinarily consider to be our enemies can only be so for one lifetime, at the most. But negative emotions have been harming us from time without beginning. They are truly the worst of enemies.
There are always ways in which one can gradually make friends with an enemy. But the more we try to make friends with negative emotions the stronger they become and the more they are able to harm us. If we think about it, as long as they continue to inhabit our minds, staying with us like close friends, we will never be happy. As long as anger, pride, and jealousy are in our minds, we will always have external enemies. If we get rid of one enemy today, tomorrow another will appear. It is endless. While we may be able temporarily to free ourselves of enemies, with negative emotions entrenched in our minds, we shall never find lasting happiness.
Anyone who practices the Dharma has a duty to do battle with the enemy--negative emotions. If we wish to achieve ultimate happiness, we have to use the antidote [mindfulness] to fight against this enemy. In doing so, we may encounter difficulties from time to time. But in an ordinary war, the trials and difficulties people go through are accepted and even encourage them to fight harder against the enemy. Moreover, in the ordinary world, a warrior's wounds are considered as signs of bravery, like medals. So as practicing Buddhists fighting this real enemy, whose very nature is harm, we should expect difficulties, and treat them as signs of victory.
An ordinary enemy may escape to a safe place only to marshal his forces again and attack us once more. But once we have banished the negative emotions from our minds by using the true antidote, they have nowhere to hide and cannot return to harm us.
A Flash of Lightning in the Dark of Night: A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life
We know how comfort and reassurance can help dispel fear. Similarly, those forms of counseling which lead to greater awareness, and affection, can help alleviate depression.
The observation, that emotion and consciousness are not the same thing, tells us that we do not have to be controlled by our thoughts and emotions. Prior to our every action, there must be a mental and emotional event to which we are more or less free to respond, albeit that until we have learned to discipline our mind, we will have difficulty in exercising this freedom. How we respond to these events and experiences determines the moral content of our acts, generally speaking. In simple terms, this means that if we do so positively, keeping others' interests before us, our acts will be positive. If we respond negatively, neglecting others, our acts will be negative and unethical.
According to this understanding, we might think of mind, or consciousness, in terms of a president or monarch who is very honest, very pure. In this view, our thoughts and emotions are like cabinet ministers. Some of them give good advice, some bad. Some have the well-being of others as their principal concern, others only their own narrow interests. The responsibility of the main consciousness--the leader--is to determine which of these subordinates gives good advice and which bad, which of them are reliable and which are not, and to act on the advice of the one sort and not the other. Mental and emotional events which, in this sense, give bad advice can themselves be described as a form of suffering.
Ethics for the New Millennium
Delusions are states of mind which, when they arise
within our mental continuum,
leave us disturbed, confused and unhappy.
Therefore, those states of mind which delude or afflict us
are called 'delusions' or 'afflictive emotions'
We all know that on days when we are in a good
mood, when the whole world seems to be smiling at us, we can accept
predicaments or bad news more easily than if our mind is already
upset, frustrated or troubled, when the slightest incident might
cause us to explode with negative emotions. If we make a habit
of being governed by these negative emotions, we will lose our
appetite, sleep badly, perhaps become ill, and lose a few years
of our life as a result. So mental calmness is very important.
Dogma - The Challenge of the Modern World
...to have greater self-awareness or understanding
means to have a better grasp of reality. Now, the opposite of
reality is to project onto yourself qualities that are not there,
ascribe to yourself characteristics in contrast to what is actually
the case. For example, when you have a distorted view of yourself,
such as through excessive pride or arrogance, because of these
states of mind, you have an exaggerated sense of your qualities
and personal abilities. Your view of your own abilities goes far
beyond your actual abilities. On the other hand, when you have
low self-esteem, then you underestimate your actual qualities
and abilities. You belittle yourself, you put yourself down. This
leads to a complete loss of faith in yourself. So excess--both
in terms of exaggeration and devaluation--are equally destructive.
lt is by addressing these obstacles and by constantly examining
your personal character, qualities, and abilities, that you can
learn to have greater self-understanding. This is the way to become
Art of Happiness at Work
Question: What is the relationship of the mind and afflictive emotions?
Dalai Lama: The very entity of the mind, its nature of mere luminosity and knowing,
is not polluted by defilements; they do not abide in the entity of the mind.
Even when we generate afflictive emotions, the very entity or nature of the
mind is still mere luminosity and knowing, and because of this we are able to
remove the afflictive emotions. If you agitate the water in a pond, it becomes
cloudy with mud; yet the very nature of the water itself is not dirty. When
you allow it to become still again, the mud will settle, leaving the water pure.
How are defilements removed? They are not removed by outside action, nor by
leaving them as they are; they are removed by the power of antidotes, meditative
A Policy of Kindness
The nature of samsaric evolution is not such that death is followed by nothingness,
nor that humans are always reborn as humans and insects as insects. On the contrary,
we all carry within us the karmic potencies of all realms of cyclic existence.
Many beings transmigrate from higher to lower realms, others from lower to higher.
The selection of a place of rebirth is not directly in our own hands but is
conditioned by our karma and delusions. They who possess spiritual understanding
can control their destiny at the time of death, but for ordinary beings the
process is very much an automatic chain reaction of karmic seeds and habitual
psychic response patterns....
Our repeated experience of frustration, dissatisfaction and misery does not
have external conditions as its root cause. The problem is mainly our lack of
spiritual development. As a result of this handicap, the mind is controlled
principally by afflicted emotions and illusions. Attachment, aversion and ignorance
rather than a free spirit, love and wisdom are the guiding forces. Recognizing
this simple truth is the beginning of the spiritual path.
Path to Enlightenment
...In order to set the mind steadily on an object of observation, it is necessary
initially to use an object of observation suited to counteracting your own predominant
afflictive emotion, since its force remains with your mind now and can easily
interrupt any attempt to concentrate the mind. Therefore, Buddha described many
types of objects for purifying behavior:
For someone whose predominant afflictive emotion is desire, ugliness is a helpful
object of meditation. Here, "ugliness" does not necessarily refer
to distorted forms; the very nature of our body--composed of blood, flesh, bone,
and so forth--might seem superficially to be very beautiful with a good color,
solid and yet soft to touch, but when it is investigated, you see that its essence
is quite different--substances like bone, blood, urine, feces, and so forth.
For someone who has predominantly engaged in hatred, the object of meditation
For someone who was predominantly sunk in obscuration, the meditation is on
the twelve links of the dependent-arising of cyclic existence because contemplating
its complexity promotes intelligence.
For someone whose predominant afflictive emotion is pride, the meditation could
be on the divisions of the constituents because, when meditating on the many
divisions, you get to the point where you realize that there are many things
you do not know, thereby lessening an inflated sense of yourself.
Those dominated by conceptuality can observe the exhalation and inhalation of
the breath because, by tying the mind to the breath, discursiveness diminishes.
A particularly helpful object for all personality types is a Buddha body, since
concentration on a Buddha's body causes your mind to mix with virtuous qualities.
No matter what the object is, this is not a case of meditating within, looking
at an external object with your eyes, but of causing an image of it to appear
to the mental consciousness.
Yoga Tantra: Paths to Magical Feats
Many people who approach the practice of Buddhism are willing to sacrifice one
or two hours of their day in order to perform some ritual practice or engage
in meditation. Time is relatively easy to give up, even though their life may
be very busy. But, they are not willing to change anything of their personality
- they are not willing to forgo anything of their negative character. With this
type of approach to Buddhism, it hardly matters how much meditation we do, our
practice remains merely a hobby or a sport. It does not touch our lives. In
order actually to overcome our problems, we have to be willing to change - namely
to change our personality. We need to renounce and rid ourselves of those negative
aspects of it that are causing us so much trouble.
The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra
Our practice of the Dharma should be a continual effort to attain a state
beyond suffering. It should not simply be a moral activity whereby we avoid
negative ways and engage in positive ones. In our practice of the Dharma, we
seek to transcend the situation in which we all find ourselves: victims of our own mental afflictions- such as attachment, hatred, pride, greed, and so forth-are mental states that cause us to behave in ways that bring about all of our unhappiness and suffering. While working to achieve inner peace and happiness, it is helpful to think of them as our inner demons, for like demons, they can haunt us, causing nothing but misery. That state beyond such negative emotions and thoughts, beyond all sorrow, is called nirvana.
An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life
It is a simple fact: whatever you resist will persist. If you are
resisting suffering, you suffer more. If you are resisting confusion,
remain confused. If you are looking for peace, you find yourself
disturbed. If you are seeking after clarity, you are in a
muddle. If you
do not want to be angry, you are going to walk around
angry. If you do not
mind being angry, you will never be bothered
about anger, because you will
not be holding on to it. Having no
opinion for or against, just being open
to whatever comes, you are
Dennis Genpo Merzel
If a house is on fire and the fire is spreading, we need to clear away straw,
wood or anything else which is highly flammable and could cause a conflagration
that would consume our entire home and property. Similarly, one way to prevent
desire and attachment is to avoid contact with the objects that stimulate it.
If anything comes between us and what we desire or if the thing to which we're
attached is harmed or threatened, we instantly feel angry. This destroys the
positive energy we've created.
Another way is not to avoid the objects but to contemplate their unappealing
aspects, because desire results from focusing only on their attractive side.
The third way is to contemplate their lack of true existence, since desire and
clinging are based on seeing them as very real and objectively existent. Whichever
technique we employ, the aim is to prevent desire and attachment, since they
bring many other problems.
Geshe Sonam Rinchen from The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas
All other foes that I appease and wait upon
Will show me favors, give me every aid,
But should I serve my dark defiled emotions,
They will only harm me, draw me down to grief.
Two people have been living in you all your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to. As you listen more and more to the teachings, contemplate them, and integrate them into your life, your inner voice, your innate wisdom of discernment, what we call in Buddhism “discriminating awareness,” is awakened and strengthened, and you begin to distinguish between its guidance and the various clamorous and enthralling voices of ego. The memory of your real nature, with all its splendor and confidence, begins to return to you.
You will find, in fact, that you have uncovered in yourself your own wise guide, and as the voice of your wise guide, or discriminating awareness, grows stronger and clearer, you will start to distinguish between its truth and the various deceptions of the ego, and you will be able to listen to it with discernment and confidence.
There are rough as well as gentle waves in the ocean; strong emotions come, like anger, desire, jealousy. The real practitioner recognizes them not as a disturbance or an obstacle but as a great opportunity. The fact that you react to arisings such as these with habitual tendencies of attachment and aversion is a sign not only that you are distracted but that you do not have the recognition and have lost the ground of Rigpa. To react to emotions in this way empowers them and binds you even tighter in the chains of delusion.
The great secret of Dzogchen is to see right through them, as soon as they arise, to what they really are: the vivid and electric manifestation of the energy of Rigpa itself. As you gradually learn to do this, even the most turbulent emotions fail to seize hold of you and instead dissolve, as wild waves rise and rear and sink back into the calm of the ocean.
Sometimes when we see too much truth about ourselves suddenly mirrored in front of us by the teacher or the teachings, it is simply too difficult to face, too terrifying to recognize, too painful to accept as the reality about ourselves. We deny and reject it, in an absurd and desperate attempt to defend ourselves fromourselves,from the truth of who we really are. And when there are things too powerful or too difficult to accept about ourselves, we project them onto the world around us, usually onto those who help us and love us the most—our teacher, the teachings, our parent, or our closest friend.
How can we possibly penetrate the tough shield of this defensive system? The very best solution is when we can recognize ourselves that we are living duped by our own delusions. I have seen how for many people a glimpse of the truth, the true View, can bring the whole fantastic construction of wrong views, fabricated by ignorance, tumbling instantly to the ground.
Even in the greatest yogi, sorrow and joy still arise just as before. The difference between an ordinary person and the yogi is how they view their emotions and react to them.
An ordinary person will instinctively accept or reject them, and so arouse the attachment or aversion that will result in the accumulation of negative karma.
A yogi, however, perceives everything that rises in its natural, pristine state, without allowing grasping to enter his perception.
We often wonder what to do about negativity or certain troubling emotions. In the spaciousness of meditation, you can view your thoughts and emotions with a totally unbiased attitude. When your attitude changes, then the whole atmosphere of your mind changes, even the very nature of your thoughts and emotions. When you become more agreeable, then they do; if you have no difficulty with them, they will have no difficulty with you either.
The war to end all wars is the battle against our delusions.
This is the radical discovery of Buddhist
psychology. You don't have to resign yourself to ordinary suffering,
to being always unconscious of what is really going on, helpless
before not only society and space and time and others, but more
importantly before your own inner drives, impulses and demands.
You need not give up and allow yourself to be buffetted here and
there by passions and angers. You can become conscious of what
you were formerly unconscious. You can understand your drives,
see where they come from, block the source, and divert the energy
for your own use. You can resist all imperatives and learn to
wield the underlying energies. You can reclaim those energies
for your life, for your happiness and the happiness of your loved
Robert Thurman from "Anger"
come from frustration. The meaning of emotion is frustration in the sense that
we are or might be unable to fulfill what we want. We discover our possible failure
as something pathetic, and so we develop our tentacles or sharpen our claws to
the extreme. The emotion is a way of competing with the projection. That is the
mechanism of emotion. The whole point is that the projections have been our own
manifestations all along.
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, from The Lion's Roar
Why do you feel elated when praised and dejected when criticized?
It's because you don't accept the way things truly are.
You're controlled by
your hallucinating mind, which is totally divorced from reality.
Your up and down emotions are like clouds in the sky; beyond them, the real, basic human nature is clear and pure.
Rejoicing in the actions of others is the major antidote to jealousy. When we
admire the virtuous deeds of ourselves and of others, a great increase of merit
is created. Jealousy is very harmful, and must be destroyed by rejoicing. If
we rejoice in the virtue of someone whose understanding is less than our own,
we gain greater merit than that person. If we rejoice in the merit of someone
with understanding equal to ours, we gain equal merit. If we rejoice in the
realization or virtue of someone more highly realized than we are, we accumulate
some fraction of the merit that they do. We must rejoice in virtue because we
have taken bodhisattva vows. If other beings practice well it helps us; therefore
we should rejoice in their positive actions. This is the easiest way to accumulate
merit with little hardship. With consistent effort the practice of rejoicing
becomes very powerful and is greatly praised by many masters.
Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, Chöd on the Ganden Tradition: the Oral Instructions of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche
I follow the Buddha, who has compassion for all, who has shown the complete path to achieve perfect complete happiness and freedom. The foundation of our practice is not to harm others or ourselves and to help benefit others as much as we can. For that purpose I shave my head and wear robes, which is the easy way to practice Buddhism. The meaning behind this is to take freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth and from the cause of all afflictive emotions, such as ignorance and attachment, which bring all the pain and confusion in this life.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Emotions reflect intentions.
Therefore, awareness of emotions leads to awareness of intentions.
Every discrepancy between a conscious intention and the emotions
that accompany it,
points directly to a splintered aspect of the self that requires
November 16, 2011