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Monday, May 10, 2010

Finding Tranquility

'Tranquility' Photograph © 2010 Robert Glenn Ketchum

'Equilibrium, Enlightenment, and Facing Your Day,' by Arthur Rosenfeld

In psychologist Daniel Goleman's 2004 book Destructive Emotions, the writer asks the Dalai Lama whether he thinks that the Buddha's brain was organically different from that of a normal person. In a question that might well have been asked of any spiritual master from Jesus to Mohammed..., the writer is seeking to know whether The Enlightened One was made of such different stuff that he never experienced negative thoughts such as jealousy, frustration, hatred or sadness. The Lama answers, somewhat unexpectedly, (I paraphrase) that whether the Buddha's brain was the kind of saucepan that never formed a negative bubble, or whether he was able to dissolve the rising bubble of destructive thought before it reached the surface, the effect is the same.

Simply put, this means that enlightened masters are qualitatively just like the rest of us; the difference is one of quantity. Unlike those of us just struggling to get through our day … enlightened folks nip negative emotions in the bud and take life's challenges in stride. …

It's a simple takeaway, really. Honor the feelings -- just don't become a slave to them. Listen to the inner voice of calm and reason and regain control of the way we feel in the shortest possible time. Strive not to say or do anything until we're calm again. See enlightenment as a process, not some lofty, unobtainable goal.

Instead of trying to change who or what we are, let's work to liberate ourselves from the bondage unfettered, destructive emotions bring us. We want to be free, don't we? Isn't freedom the greatest promise that any self-help class, book, podcast, lecture, DVD or program can offer? Isn't it wonderful that we already have all the tools we need to escape from a prison of our own creation?

Make it a game to notice your own dance with emotion. If you do, you will have taken the first draught of the antidote to the venom destructive emotions deliver. Pay attention to how long your anger burns. Recognize for how many days your resentment smolders, your jealousy lingers, your indignation persists. Breathe. Concentrate on letting go. Tell yourself you want to be free and happy again. It's a skill, see? All it takes is practice.

Read entire article here

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