Our unquestioned sense of “self” and how important it is to satisfy it is the basis of negative emotions. We often don’t take time to investigate who or what this “self” may be. With this, there is a divide between self and other. There’s “me” and everything “I” need, and then everything else in the universe is seen through the lens of whether it can help me fulfill my desires or whether it’s going to impede me in this fulfilling. The entire universe become “friend and foe.” This is the basis in which negative emotions arise.
In meditation, we learn to see when these emotions arise and catch them. We learn to not act on them and how to let go of an emotion. If we act on a negative emotion our actions are going to be unskillful, clumsy, and potentially extremely harmful. According to the Buddha’s teachings, there cannot be an action without a consequence. What is the consequence of harmful unskillful actions? It’s pain. It’s suffering. It’s the whole cycle. The cycle begins with not questioning the validity of self and this arbitrary division between “me” and everything else. It then moves into emotions, thoughts, and concepts, crystallizes into unskillful actions, and leads to suffering. Emotions are right in the middle of this process, so it is very important we learn to work with them.
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