Dealing with Emotions
By Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
When you have identified your major problem, whatever the poison, whatever the problem is that is bothering you terribly, you should then sit there, relax, and call up this emotion in your meditation. Whether it is anger, jealousy, pride, envy, whatever, summon it here. Then introduce yourself to this being which has somehow caused so much chaos in your life for so long, and investigate this feeling of yours. How big is it? Is it oblong? Round? Black? White? What colour, what shape is it?
Look at the essence of this emotion that makes you suffer so much. You always think that the emotion is genuinely happening, but if that were the case, it should have a shape, a colour, a size. If you are bothered by something, there must be something there for you to be bothered by! How can anything bother you when you find nothing? If it were a solid entity, really existing in some part of your body, you could just remove it with an operation and thus solve all your problems. However, emotions have no such characteristics.
This is the time to do a really proper investigation through meditation. Hopefully you will come to the very strong conclusion that there isn't anything to worry about, because there is nothing to be found. You then discover that you are responsible for creating emotions that do not really exist, and that you yourself transform them into solid realities.
That's why our emotional states are so difficult to handle. Somehow we are able to build this solid image out of an emotion, and it bothers us all the time. It takes away our peace and destroys whatever we're doing. If I were to tell you there is nothing to bother you, you would certainly reply, Oh, this Lama Yeshe is saying so, but my feelings really bother me. This is why I'm asking you to do this investigation here, now, in your own meditation. There is no other way. When you yourself come to the conclusion that there is actually nothing there to bother you, then you should be relieved. It should comfort you to know that somehow you have been enslaved by feelings that do not really exist.
Doing this again and again is like dismantling the imagery you have built up all your life. Through meditation, you can dismantle this feeling that there is something bothering you all the time. But unless you do proper research, you won't be able to achieve it. You have to wholeheartedly involve and engage yourself in this investigation, so that you really find out for yourself. Whichever way you look, no matter how much time you invest, you find nothing at all, but if you still let your life be poisoned by this, you're really wrong, aren't you? If you can find nothing, then why should you be afraid?
For example, if you're very afraid, look at the essence of what you are afraid of. Does this fear manifest like a monster? Does it have many horns, or teeth? What is it you are really afraid of? And if you can't find anything, then think whether in childhood maybe someone frightened you. Maybe you built your own image on this and weren't able to get rid of it afterwards, although there isn't really anything to bother you now.
This type of meditation is called lhakthong in Tibetan, which means thorough investigation leading to insight. Learning to deal with our emotions, we gradually get used to the idea of the possibility of inner transformation. In the Tibetan tradition, we say that our mind is like a wild being. We have to tame this wild being. Usually, people think that everybody else is the problem and that they themselves are the perfect ones - that way they end up never finding any peace in their minds. The right approach is to tame our own wild being and then everything else falls nicely into place. This can only be achieved through meditation.
However, things are not going to change overnight. For some, it may take ten, twenty years or more. As Buddhists, we believe that this accumulation of habits may have taken many lifetimes. Those who do not believe in previous lives can still accept the fact that it has taken them twenty, thirty or forty years to assimilate their family lineage, culture, and tradition. We have so many habits, we cannot suddenly drop them altogether. That is why we should never get impatient. We should simply acknowledge that the task is difficult, but we should never give up.
Â Reference: excerpt from 'Living Dharma' by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche