The True Source of Negative Emotions

By Tergar Meditation Community • 2 min read


Pop quiz!

Q: What’s another word for the desire to be happy? A: Love. And since you probably aced that test question, you’ll recall that the desire to be free from suffering is also known as compassion. And, since you’ve been paying attention, by now you likely understand that every time you stand in front of the open fridge trying to decide what you want, every time you fall in love or send an emoji or shop for cat food — indeed, in everything you do — you’re seeking happiness. As for the desire to be free from suffering, to protect yourself from pain and harm, that’s equally omnipresent.

Skill is the issue

Unfortunately, in our ignorance, we don’t always act on these desires to be happy and free from suffering in a skillful way. When we’re confronted with things that scare us or rattle our cages, we immediately react with aversion. Feeling jealousy, hatred, or other painful emotions, we desperately want to annihilate the source of the problem, and express ourselves with aggression or even violence. Similarly, we often bring this honking lack of skillfulness to our desire to be happy, seeking happiness in people, places, and things that are mainly notable for their inability to bring us anything of the sort. These habits can be very deeply embedded in us, even though they don’t serve us well.


The point to remember

Although their true essence is rooted in love and compassion, these impulses, when they are so distorted, can really cause harm to ourselves to others. You can surely think of a million examples of this kind of unskillful behavior in other people, some of it really extreme. The daily news certainly is chock-full of examples. Maybe, if you put your mind to it, you can even think of a few instances when you acted in a way that was, shall we say, less than wonderful. However, whether you’re looking at your own life or somebody else’s, it is really important to understand that although the behavior might be spectacularly lacking in skillfulness, the underlying motivation is always a heartfelt impulse toward well-being and protection from harm. Integrating and absorbing this truth is one of the keys to understanding your true nature.

“The more we recognize awareness, the more access we have to our own loving qualities.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

More Resources:

Compassionate Wisdom

Loving-kindness and compassion are critical elements of the path, but they can lead to fatigue and even burnout. In order to prevent this from happening, we must infuse them with wisdom.

Joy of Living Online Training

Theory and practice of meditation, step-by-step.

Learn meditation under the skillful guidance of world-renowned teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche at your own pace.

About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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