Buddhism and Human Feelings
There is a wide-spread impression amongst non-Buddhists that the Buddhist religion disregards human feeling. The notion of Buddhism as an aloof teaching that prizes detachment developed in
The Objective of Buddhist Living
The common (distorted) view of Buddhism which I am trying to correct presumes that the purpose of Buddhists is a detached life. But, Buddhist philosophy actually views detachment as an extreme as destructive as attachment. The historical
The middle path is not a middle of the road existence. Rather it is living in the tension of being drawn toward various extremes. Walking such a middle path is not an end in itself. Buddhists do not cherish a life of moderation as such. Rather it is living moderately and navigating between the extremes which leads us toward our objective. The objective of Buddhist living is freedom and realization of the Truth.
Freedom is often conceived in a merely negative fashion -- freedom from... But, freedom is not conceived in merely negative terms by Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism. For us freedom means limitless potential. The Larger Vehicle of Buddhist teaching explains freedom as not being bound to some fixed forms of living, thinking and feeling, but ALSO not being bound to formlessness. True freedom is not detachment from forms of feeling, thinking and acting. Rather it is the limitless potential to flexibly take on new forms of being as situations and the needs they generate change.
Realization of the Truth is interdependent with true freedom.
There is no way to adequately explain what such a realization of the truth is like in the language of the unenlightened. Yet, there is no other language and, as those who battle the AIDS virus remind us, SILENCE IS DEATH. Therefore, let me break the 'noble' silence of scholastic Buddhism and say that the realization of the Truth is discerning and non-substantial, luminous oneness of all persons, places and events. This realization is fulfilling in a way that is similar to and yet transcendent of the pleasures and rewards which come to us in our day to day affairs.
How Buddhists Address Their Emotions
The oldest Buddhist advice regarding emotions is that we might do well to deliberately cultivate positive emotions. The classic example of this is Metta meditation, the cultivation of kindly intentions towards all living beings. This procedure probably goes back to the historical
Once Buddhism had established an elite of educated monks and nuns the concern with suppressing disturbing emotions became a matter of some urgency. In particular, monks found it hard to meditate when they were still moved by sexual desires. The classic way of suppressing sexual desire was to go to a graveyard at night, dig up a corpse and watch it decay. The corpse would usually be buried again before day break and then dug up again the next night. After watching the progressive deterioration of a woman's corpse over aperiod of a few weeks a monk would typically find his sexual desires to have become dormant. This practice was only engaged in by monks.
With the Chan tradition in
In the Jodo and