Everett's Reviews > Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

Destructive Emotions by Daniel Goleman
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May 12, 08

bookshelves: intellectualism
Read in January, 2008

This book was excellente. If it sounds at all interesting, get it and read it.

I'm really interested in the buddhist approach to emotional issues:
'"To consider whether those destructive emotions are part of the basic nature of mind, we need to examine them. Take anger, for example. A strong burst of anger seems irresistible, very compelling. We feel almost powerless not to feel angry; it is as if one has no choice but to experience it. This is because we don't really look at the nature of anger itself. What is anger? When you look from the distance at a large summer cloud, it seems so massive that one could sit on it. Yet if one goes into it, there is nothing to grasp, nothing but steam and wind. At the same time, it obscures the sun, so it has an effect.
'"So with anger. One classical approach in Buddhist practice is for the meditator to look straight into the anger and ask: 'Is anger like an army commander, like a burning fire, like a heavy stone? Does it carry a weapon in its hand? Is it somewhere we can find, in the chest, the heart, the head? Does it have any shape or color?' Of course one does not expect to find someone thrusting a spear into one's stomach! Yet that's how we conceive of anger, as something very strong and compelling.
'"But the experiment will show that the more you look at anger, the more it disappears beneath one's very eyes, like the frost melting under the morning sun. When one genuinely looks at it, it suddenly loses its strength.
'"One discovers as well that anger was not what one had originally thought. It is a collection of different events. There is, for instance, an aspect of clarity, of brilliance, that is at the very core of anger and is not yet malevolent. Indeed, at the very source of destructive emotions there is something that is not yet harmful.
'"Thus," Matthieu explained, "the negative qualities of emotions are not even intrinsic to the emotions themselves. It is the grasping associated with one's tendencies that leads to a chain reaction in which the initial thought develops into anger, hatred, and malevolence. If anger itself is not something that is solid, it means anger is not a property that belongs to the fundamental nature of mind."'
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