Cherish Emotions

Update: 17/06/2023
A boat that glides smoothly on rough waves won’t sink.

Cherish Emotions


A person who stands his ground when facing gain and loss, compliment and criticism, honour and shame, happiness and suffering is like the image of the boat that stands tall and proud. 

Having overcome many difficulties, human beings are still caught in the tangle of emotions. A person who is considered brave confronting hundreds of thousands of enemies could not let go of a promise hand-made ring that a young woman gave in the past.

All kinds of relationships are quite similar. We take great pleasure in compliments, so we are easily overwhelmed by feelings of resentment if we are criticized, belittled, or assaulted. It’s normal. It’s because we have a sense of pride and self-respect. However, self-respect and self-pity are two different things. Self-respect is more than 50% positive whereas self-pity isn’t. 

Buddha taught us to call them affection. Feelings play a very important role in controlling our thoughts and actions. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh used to say that, briefly, “feeling is like a river, in which each feeling is a drop of water and one drop of water depends on the other to create a river. We can sit on the riverbank to observe and identify each sensation as it manifests, floats and disappears. 

If we know how to carefully cherish and look after our unpleasant feelings, we can transform them into positive energy, which can be used to nurture our body and mind. By recognizing and observing, we will be quickly aware of the presence of these unwanted emotions and feelings. Using patience and loving kindness to transform it. Finally, one regains the equanimity. 

Unpleasant feelings are, in a way, also our teachers. We can be enlightened by those uncomfortable feelings. These feelings help us understand more about ourselves and the society in which we live. 

In the ancient teaching books of Buddhism, specifically the book Q&A with Mi-Tien, it was mentioned briefly that: If there was a person whose left hand held a hot metal while his right hand held a cold ice, how did this person feel? Even the gross sensations of heat and cold in the body are hard to perceive, let alone the subtle feelings of happiness and sadness in our hearts. Happiness and sadness are actually quite relative. 

In the Middle Sutra, the Buddha taught us how to deal with feelings and not be swept away by the whirlwind of feelings and drift into an oasis of loneliness, boredom, and depression.

When our body and mind experience pleasure or pain, or neither pleasure nor pain arises, we are aware of the presence of these feelings. Knowing whether these feelings stem from materials or non-materials, inner feelings, or outside feelings, just be presence and be aware of the life cycle of these senses without attaching to them or anything at all in life. Being able to do that is called contemplating feelings.

Being able to appreciate and let go of these feelings as freely as they appear proves that we are cherishing our lives under the teaching of Buddha.

A good person leaves things behind.

A nice person won’t discuss sexual desire.

Even with feelings of happiness and misery

The wise are neither happy nor sad. (Dhammapada 83)  

Tâm Cung

 Translated into English by Thai Nhuoc Don

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