Time : Saturday 2pm-4.00pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : How To Control Our Emotions
On 31 October 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English) that provided insights into negative emotions and methods to remain calm in the face of an imminent emotional upheaval.
A very relevant topic considering the chaotic world that we live in where negative emotions tend to run high. Emotional suffering is an unsuspecting source of physical ailments coupled with how contagious negative emotions can be, emphasize the importance of taking control of one’s negative emotions.
The session started off by highlighting the three key channels – greed, hatred and ignorance – that give rise to negative emotions. In Buddhism, they are collectively known as the three poisons. It is only through embracing a merciful and compassionate mentality, and understanding the impermanence of life, one can overcome these negative emotions.
Some interesting pointers presented during the session were:
1. Our physical body brings the greatest suffering in life. This reinforces the importance to make use of our current human form to learn and practice Buddhism in order to liberate ourselves from life’s sufferings.
2. Karmic obstacles arise from one’s memories. The participants were advised to eliminate all negative thoughts in their memories and refrain from evil thoughts.
By transforming one’s mind into the mind of a Buddha helps one to take control of negative emotions. After all, everything in life, be it good or bad, will come to an end one day.
Master Lu once said this powerful phrase that is worthy of etching on our hearts, “Where will you be 50 years from now?” This simple phrase reminds us to stay focused in our spiritual cultivation path and not get bogged down by trivial and yet distracting issues.
Let us now look at some comments from participants:
“My greatest takeaway from the session is understanding that negative emotions are contagious. The session has helped me realised not to retain unpleasant and negative memories in our mind as we are retaining the karmic obstacles. Always focus on the bright side of life and be optimistic.”
? Join us in our next session
Please contact Loh SX (96978356) / Woan Yi SX (82182248) for more information
⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 7 Nov 2020 (2.oopm – 4.00pm)
Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:
HOW TO CONTROL OUR EMOTIONS
WHAT ARE WE LEARNING TODAY?
- What are the types of emotions?
- What causes our negative emotions?
- What are the effects of negative emotions?
Why should we overcome our negative emotions?
How can we deal with our negative emotions?
How do we perform recitation when having negative emotions?
Episode 13 – LET OUR THOUGHTS NEITHER INCREASE NOR DECREASE
We must know how to purify our mind, we must purify our thoughts. How do we become purer and purer? Firstly, we need to practise calming and contemplation. That means our mind must always be free of hindrances. Just like a room in a house, if you don’t fill the room up with things, it will be spacious. You will feel comfortable when you enter the room. Just like a large living room in a house, many people fill their living rooms full, there is no room to sit anywhere.
If you fill your mind with worldly concerns, such as fame, wealth, fortune and benefits, and it is filled to the brim. How can you stop your thoughts from arising? How can you stop observing what is going on in the world?
Calming and contemplation is practising Zen. What is practising Zen? That is to contemplate everything in human life and understand it with an awakened mind:
“Why did someone do such a thing?”
“Why do you like this person so much?”
“Why do you dislike that person?”
All these require the practice of Zen.
What is practice of Zen? It is to contemplate.
So people may ask, “How to contemplate?”
Meditative concentration — the sort of reflection that emerges, not by visualisation, but by practising meditation.
What is Zen? It is a kind of natural, awakened state of mind, that allows you to experience the existence of a certain matter, and its impact on you, as well as the perception that arises in your heart. This is what it is meant by practising Zen. More often than not we pray to Bodhisattvas every day: “Bodhisattva, please bless and protect me”. But in reality, we have so many distracted, wandering thoughts.
We have so many mental disturbances. Every day, our minds contain all sort of things except the Buddha. “What to eat and what to wear?” “What should I do to be better?” and so on and so forth. Every day, we exist in a mass of distracted thoughts, which cause us to lose a lot of wisdom. Very soon frustration will be on our heels. It is said that eight or nine out of ten people are faced with frustration. Everyone experiences many frustrations, unhappiness and miseries.
< What are the types of emotions? >
An Excerpt from Master Jun Hong Lu’s Guan Yin Hall Discourse (28 May 2019)
PRACTISE FORBEARANCE AND ELIMINATE RESENTMENT
Everyone has negative emotions. What is the clinical expression of negative emotions in modern context? It’s anger and hatred. Therefore, once a person harbours anger and hatred towards someone, it means that he is having a negative mindset and is no longer upright.
In fact, a kind and positive person is full of vigour and hopeful about life. “I hate it so much; I am so angry.” It is impossible for a person with such negative mindset to be awakened and discover his innate nature.
Would an enlightened person hate others?
Human beings inherently possess Buddha-nature.
Do you think an awakened person who has found his innate nature would have negative emotions?
< What Causes Our Negative Emotions? >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Singapore, 9 May 2019 (An Excerpt)
THE THREE POISONS ~ GREED, HATRED AND IGNORANCE
Master Jun Hong Lu: Greed, hatred and ignorance are the three poisons that will hurt our souls like venomous snakes. Greed can lead to obsessive desires and put a strain on our spiritual well-being when such desires cannot be met.
Hatred of others, ourselves or even our society, is in fact allowing one to be immersed in evil nature. We must understand the impermanence of life. We were born into this world empty handed, and will leave with nothing when we die.
Cultivate a tolerant attitude and forgiving mentality towards all matters in life. Only then can we achieve spiritual wellness.
Embrace the merciful and compassionate mentality of Bodhisattva, for this is the way for us to acquire happiness and blessings.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 45 (An Excerpt)
WHAT BRINGS THE GREATEST SUFFERING IN LIFE?
So, as Buddhists, let me tell you all, we need to know what it is that brings the greatest suffering in your life, and that is your physical body. Your body is well at one time, and not well at another time, your body suffers pain at one time, and after some time the pain is gone. You use your body to experience life’s pleasures, and use it to enjoy what is not seen, and enjoy the fleeting riches and glory. Then one day when you come to know that you suffer from a terminal disease, all of these are like the passing of the fleeting clouds.
Thus, as we remain in the cycle of rebirths, we keep walking along our predetermined path. We cannot let go, so we can never liberate ourselves. So, when many people found out that they are suffering from a serious illness, they leave this world with regrets. This is what happens when you only have a physical body without your wisdom-life. This is why I advise you to learn Buddhism, Buddhism can guide us to liberate ourselves from life’s suffering.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 11 Chapter 35 (An Excerpt)
KARMIC OBSTACLES ARISE FROM ONE’S MEMORIES
Let’s assume that karmic obstacles arise from one’s memories, which you’ve probably never heard of, right? Let me elaborate. When you recall something unpleasant, you willdevelop hatred, depression, afflictions, all of which will result in karmic obstacles.
If you want to eliminate the karmic obstacles, isn’t it true that you must get rid of all the bad memories of the people you hate, your wrongdoings, your regrets, and the other mistakes that you made due to your foolishness or greed? You must cleanse away your negative thoughts and memories.
Because one’s memory mental faculty is too great, it’s hard to control. Don’t you agree that it is so? When we don’t want to remember something, that incident will immediately flash through our mind. Similarly, when you want to avoid mentioning someone you hate, that person would appear in your thoughts in a short while.
On the contrary, you can’t recall a single thing that you want to remember. The memory mental faculty is something that you have no control over.
Therefore, if you want to eliminate karmic obstacles, you must first eliminate all the negative thoughts in your memory. You must know that if you keep retaining the unpleasant and negative memories in your mind, you are retaining the karmic obstacles.
Zongshu20170309 04:12 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
FEELING GLOOMY BECAUSE OF FOREIGN SPIRITS AT HOME
Caller: Master Lu, please help to read the Totem of my mother. She was born in the year of the Rooster in 1969. Please advise if there is any foreign spirit on her body, as she has been feeling gloomy recently, and can’t seem to think things through.
Master Jun Hong Lu: It’s because of foreign spirits at your home.
Caller: How many Little Houses are required?
Master Jun Hong Lu: 43.
Caller: OK, thank you Master. May I ask Master, the Little Houses should be offered to the karmic creditors of our house and not my mother’s karmic creditors?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Since this is her house, the Little Houses should be offered to the karmic creditors of her house.
Caller: OK, thank you Master. What is the proportion of her karmic debt?
Master Jun Hong Lu: 36%.
Caller: OK, thank you Master.
< What Are The Effects Of Negative Emotions? >
An Excerpt from Master Jun Hong Lu’s Guan Yin Hall Discourse (16 October 2020)
EMOTIONAL SUFFERING COULD IMPACT PHYSICAL HEALTH
Another type of illness in humans is emotional suffering (内伤). Our feelings are easily hurt. Our failure to understand and to be understood by others are the cause of hurt to ourselves, which could also impact our physical health. Various diseases, jealousy, hatred, craving, and ignorance can all contribute to our emotional suffering. A person who has always been jealous of others will suffer more and more heartache (chest pain), while one who always resents others will experience increasingly dry eyes and it will also affect their liver and gastrointestinal health.
Bodhisattva told us that the best way to get rid of our emotional suffering is to refrain from evil acts. Master would like to tell everyone that, not only you should refrain from evil acts, you should also refrain from evil thoughts. Do not conceive of evil thoughts and perform all good deeds. While physical ailments can be treated by medication, for emotional suffering, you have to refrain from evil thoughts and perform all good deeds.
Episode 13 – LET OUR THOUGHTS NEITHER INCREASE NOR DECREASE
How to control our frustrations? How to practise self-control? Bodhisattvas tell us to treat it with patience. Those with forbearance will slowly overcome their frustrations. Many people are able to patiently endure unhappiness and continue to laugh and smile. Even when their husbands pick fights with them, they can still put on a smiling face. They know that it is temporary, and it will soon be over.
Patience is the remedy, so she will patiently endure it. When you are happy, when happy times arrive, treat it with equanimity. The best approach is to treat it with equanimity. So, don’t go overboard when you are happy, don’t be excessively sad either.
Avoid frequent rises and falls in mood. In other words, you need to exercise control over your mind without any fluctuating rise and fall in your mood.
When you are happy, your sense of happiness rises. You are in a joyous mood. When you are unhappy, there is a fall in your mood. When you have no energy, your mood is low. When one is full of yin energy, or full of negative energy, they will show no interest in anything. They are always low in spirits in anything they do, and they are not interested in anything they think. People say, “You seem low today. Come on, I’ll take you out for a walk”. ”No mood”.
“Regarding the matter, forget it, I don’t want to think about it anymore”. “I’m not in the mood, I don’t feel like going out”. “I don’t want to go out”. This means you experience rise and fall in your emotions.
The Heart Sutra tells us “Neither increasing nor decreasing. In reality it refers to our lives ─ when good things happen, don’t let your emotions rise; when bad things happen, alas, I’m in low spirits the whole day! As if this whole world, brings you nothing but trouble.
Hence why philosophers in the past said: “Stand up and you can’t see a single ant, squat down and ants are everywhere”. It is a type of sentiment. There is no rise nor fall in our true mind, neither increasing nor decreasing. It actually refers to Buddhists who have embarked on the path — this means you have gained a little realisation of the truth.
Hence when people in ancient times talked about whether you were awakened or not, they weren’t actually saying you were awakened, they were saying you have found the path. You have entered the path. Entering the path means you have just gained some realisation. Attaining the path means you have already attained enlightenment. Therefore, the inspiration and guidance that Dharma gives to people is very, very important.
We must learn to be tolerant of each other’s mistakes. No matter what wrongdoings others have done, you must be tolerant towards them. Because they were not you, your mindset is not representative of theirs, nor are your actions representative of theirs. If you are unable to tolerate others, it means your mind is intolerant. It’s because many things that people do, are not considered satisfactory to you.
Things fail to go as smoothly as you have expected, but you must understand that all the people and matters in this world are not there for your benefit. They are not meant for you. They exist either to settle an old score or repay your kindness. Those who have grudges seek revenge. They come to this world to attend to what they are supposed to do.
They are not to be owned or used by you. In this world, there is nothing you can use forever or possess forever. If you have this kind of thought, the Bodhisattva’s wisdom, you will gradually understand that desires in this world will never give you complete satisfaction.
< Why Should We Overcome Our Negative Emotions? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 24 (An Excerpt)
EMOTIONS ARE CONTAGIOUS
Sometimes, a person’s negative emotions can attract our attention more easily than the positive ones, because negative emotions are highly contagious among sentient beings, just like the plague. If a person recounted an unpleasant experience, it would affect many of those around him to be unhappy as well.
For example, when a person is overly agitated during an argument, it will stir up the same feelings in the other person whom he is arguing with. It is then likely to escalate the argument into an overheated one, which might even turn into something far worse. Therefore, as Buddhist practitioners, we should be mindful not to exaggerate our negative emotions.
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Singapore, 17 February 2017 (An Excerpt)
SEVEN REASONS WHY WE SHOULD NOT GET ANGRY
1. We should never get angry as our anger will only exterminate the very last trace of rationality in us.
2. We should never get angry as our anger will ignite the excruciating sense of grievance deep inside us.
3. We should never get angry as our anger will destroy our normal course of life.
4. We should never get angry as our anger will engulf our last courage to forgive others in the end.
5. We should never get angry as our anger will only make matters worse.
6. We should never get angry as our anger will not hurt anyone else but ourselves, aggravating our pain and worsening our emotional distress.
7. We should never get angry as our anger will not make anyone see the truth; it only steers us back to the wrong behaviour which leads us to make the same mistake time and again.
Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting (Q&A Session) Sydney, Australia
26 January 2019 (An Excerpt)
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DO PEOPLE WITH LESS THAN 20% OF KARMIC OBSTACLES POSSESS?
Question: What characteristics do people who have less than 20% of karmic obstacles possess? Kindly advise us, Master Lu.
Answer: That depends on the level of spiritual development. People with less than 20% of karmic obstacles have a higher level of spiritual development. They will not fight and quarrel with others. They always have smiley faces. Do people who always have a long face, have less than 20% of karmic obstacles? People’s faces can tell you that.
Answer: People with less than 20% can laugh sincerely; but not for those who always have long faces, always bear hatred towards others, and always criticise, ‘this isn’t good, that isn’t good’.
Looking at your face, you have less than 10%. Since I hold “less than 10% of karmic obstacles” within my heart, so I look at others to be less than 10%. If you place Buddha in your heart, you would look at others as Buddha; if the demon is in your heart, you would think all people are evil and bad, like ghosts. A kind-hearted person always thinks that others are good. Understand? (Yes.)
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Singapore, 23 April 2016 (An Excerpt)
TAKE CONTROL OF OUR EMOTIONS
The most important factor in the practice of Dharma is the ability to control one’s emotions. Causing hurt to others verbally is the most ignorant behaviour. Our many vexations are premised on the negative emotions inside us. As such, never allow your inner negative emotions to control you.
Please remember, a person who is able to control his negative emotions is a person who cultivates well. We learn traffic rules so that we can drive on the road. We learn to observe the Precepts as we want to emulate Buddha.
“Still water runs deep”.
A sage is a person who knows well that he should think before he speaks or responds to others. We spend two years learning to speak; however, we need to spend decades to learn to be silent.
“Silence is Golden”
To speak is strength; To be silent is wisdom!
< How Can We Deal With Our Negative Emotions? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 1 Chapter 5 (An Excerpt)
NEITHER INCREASING NOR DECREASING
One who is enlightened would not be distressed by adversities in life. For they understand that all gains and losses stemmed from our pre-determined affinities. Their minds remain unperturbed, neither increasing nor decreasing; and able to transform their state of mind from ordinary to sageness so as to attain the blissful mind of a Buddha.
One who is enlightened would not be distressed by adversities in life. An awakened person would not have worries when he encountered tribulations, as he understands the truth that sufferings are inevitable in life – a predestined phenomenon that he would have to embrace.
As such, there is no cause for worries and he will accept the adversities willingly. On the contrary, those who worry are the ones who have yet to be enlightened.
We have to let nature takes its course and adopt the best approach in order to bring the outcome to perfection. Having an unyielding attitude will impair our ability to act in accordance with nature.
Regardless of the circumstances, Buddhist cultivators have to achieve a mind of equanimity in order to free ourselves from attachments and anxieties. A true practitioner would have the underworld cave-in to his affinity.
An Excerpt from Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk in Brisbane, 20 March 2016
BE COMPASSIONATE AND LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
How do true Buddhists fill our hearts with light? The most important thing is to overcome pain and troubles in life with our mercy and compassion. Think about it: when you resent someone, you, in fact, start losing the compassion inherent in our true nature.
Therefore, the more we are compassionate toward others, the less we resent. The more compassionate we are toward others, the less we hurt. When we are more compassionate toward others, we fill our hearts with more love and light.
Two thousands and five hundreds years ago, the Buddha said that everyone has the inherent Buddha-nature. Everyone is his own master and his own future’s master. In this society, we can’t truly rely on others; we have to learn to count on ourselves. And we have to understand that everything happening right now is the karmic consequence of what we have done before.
No matter what mistakes we have made before, we have to live in the present moment. We have to be our own masters and not commit new offenses again in order to not suffer additional karmic consequences.
While we have control of our lives, we have to train our mind to always focus on the bright side and be optimistic. Because we can take control of our present, we can preserve the Buddha-nature in our hearts and see our bright futures.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 11 Chapter 34 (An Excerpt)
TRANSFORM OUR MIND INTO THE MIND OF A BUDDHA
You must transform suffering into happiness. “This matter has inflicted great suffering to me, how could I do to become happy?” Then you must think that everything, even suffering, will come to an end one day. “He takes advantage of me, so I must properly recite sutras, and hopefully he’ll understand, he will treat me well when he’s old. I painstakingly brought up my child, when the child grows up, he will be filial towards me.”
When you think this way, doesn’t your suffering become happiness? You must transform your mind into the mind of a Buddha. You must transform your selfish mind into the mind of a Buddha.
Whatever happens, you must remember to transform your mind using the Buddha-nature in you. Live life in a simpler way and your mind will have less to suffer from. Where does a happy life come from? It comes from practising Buddhism.
An Excerpt from Master Lu’s Public Talk in Paris, France, 1 October 2017
THREE WAYS TO AVOID BEING ANGRY
When someone in your family is angry, the first thing you should do is learn to stay away. For many people, their first reaction is to talk back to their wives or husbands and then get into a heated exchange with each other. In fact, just like if a house is on fire, the very first thing you should do is to flee the scene. You can find a way to put out the fire afterwards. Thus, staying away is a good approach.
The second approach is diversion of attention. When a family member is having a fit of anger, you can either change the subject or take the spouse out on a shopping trip.
Thirdly, learn to resolve the conflicts. When you get scolding from the other party, you shouldn’t retaliate. Instead, you should find a friend and sit down for a talk. There is no smoke without fire. There must be some reason why the wife loses her temper or the husband is unhappy.
Understanding the working of karma helps elevate a person’s state of mind. View someone’s wrath against you as an opportunity to make you a better person. It helps you identify your weaknesses. In this way, you’ll be able to rectify your shortcomings and learn to control your emotions. Whoever can control their emotions is already a winner.
Shuohua20140502 17:53 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
HOW TO DO SELF-REFLECTION?
Caller: How do we share with fellow practitioners the importance of doing self-reflection and self-check regularly in their daily life? This happened to be something I wish to learn too, to avoid inflation of ego and going astray.
Master Jun Hong Lu: How do we do self-reflection? It is very simple. Let me ask you, how do we maintain our personal hygiene? You wash your face and brush your teeth every morning, don’t you? In the same way, we should do regular self-reflection.
Every day before you offer incense and perform recitation of Buddhist scriptures, do a personal self-reflection:
- Did I do anything wrong today?
- Have I been overcome by greed today?
- Have I been ignorant today?
- Did I have any grievances today?
- Did I hurt anyone today?
- Have I been able to practise endurance of humiliation today…
Think about all these. Have I emulated Bodhisattva today? This is what self-reflection is all about. Do it twice a day, it is the same principle as saying a prayer or repenting in many Western religions.
An Excerpt from Master Jun Hong Lu’s Guan Yin Hall Discourse (16 October 2020)
When people are in a bad mood, they would always want to chat with others to let off steam. For Buddhist practitioners, you may recite Buddhist scriptures, chat with other Buddhist friends, or watch some comedies to adjust their mindset and transform their emotions. There are also some who prefer to communicate more with positive people in the hope to regulate their emotions and eliminate their sadness within.
As Buddhist practitioners, we tend to forget our worries when we help others, as we will be immersed in dharma bliss when we rejoice at the happiness of others. When the respect of others come to you, it will cause you excitement.
When you are able to help others and others are grateful to you, you will be easily influenced by the positive energy arising from the gratitude of others, which will in turn bring you immense bliss. Therefore, one who always lends a helping hand to others is one who has an abundant heart.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 2 Chapter 3 (An Excerpt)
FUNCTIONS OF WATER
Disciples should take note that, when you offer water to Bodhisattvas, do not place empty cups on your Buddhist altar before filling with water. Instead, the cups must be filled with some water beforehand. Water cleanses away greed. When making offerings to Bodhisattvas, you must do so wholeheartedly without any hesitation. Offering water will help subdue greed, aversion, delusion and stinginess.
Water has four functions:
1. It purifies your senses. When offering water to Bodhisattvas, your mind and body feel relaxed and healthy, and your six senses are temporarily pure.
2. It tones down your personality and softens your mind. People who drink water regularly have a calm mind while those who don’t tend to lose their temper easily. It’s the same thing when you are feeling thirsty ─ your body heats up and you become easily provoked.
3. It soothes your throat and enables you to speak clearly and articulately, which sounds pleasing to the ear. Drinking water also calms the mind and enables you to think clearly.
4. It keeps your intentions wholesome and pure.
< How Do We Perform Recitation When Having Negative Emotions? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Volume 2 Chapter 19 (An Excerpt)
POINTERS FOR RECITING BUDDHIST SCRIPTURES UNDER SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
Our Destiny is in Our Own Hands
< SUMMARY >
- The three poisons
- Greed – leads to obsessive desires and put a strain on our spiritual well-being when such desires cannot be met.
- Hatred – is allowing one to be immersed in evil nature.
- Ignorance – hinders the perfection of our mind and flaws our undertakings
- Physical body – brings us the greatest suffering in life
- Memory – if we keep retaining the unpleasant and negative memories in our mind, we are retaining the karmic obstacles.
- Others – foreign spirits, demonic obstacles, etc
- Karmic obstacles
- To remember the faults of others is to bear the burden of their karmic obstacles
- Emotional suffering
- Negative emotions can lead to emotional suffering
- Physical health
- Negative emotional states could impact our physical health, e.g.: jealousy àheartache/chest pain; resentment & anger à dry eyes, liver and gastrointestinal problem.
- Emotions are contagious
- be mindful not to exaggerate our negative emotions – otherwise it might turn into something far worse
- To prevent the creation of karmic obstacles
- negative thoughts/emotions will cause the creation of negative karma
- A reflection of our spiritual development
- a person who is able to control his negative emotions is a person who cultivates well (<20% karmic obstacles)
- Have I emulated Bodhisattva today?
- Where will you be after 50 years from now?
- Forgive and forget – to remember the faults of others is to bear the burden of their karmic obstacles.
- If you place Buddha in your heart, you wouldlook at others as Buddha
- Do not lose your temper as, if you are in the right, there is no need to; if you are in the wrong, you do not have the right to.
- Everything is the best arrangement / a test from Bodhisattva