Fran Miller Ph.D. - Licensed Psychologist

Negative emotions, Balance;
Bondage, Liberation

Most of us have thought patterns that are caught up in worrying, planning, fantasizing, or dreaming about the future; regrets, remorse, memories, or nostalgia about the past; or negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, fear, irritation, frustration, anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, and isolation.

From the psychological perspective one goal is to learn how to move away from negative emotions to find balance, gratitude, and appreciation. The effort psychologically is to refocus and reframe negative thinking, restructure negative sentences, formulate the opposite of negative emotions such as forgiveness, courage, calm, peace, hope, and connectedness and to develop appreciation and gratitude.

From the Eastern philosophical or Buddhist perspective, we are held in bondage by, or bound by negative thought patterns. From this perspective it is the discrimination of attachment and aversion that binds us. Attachments take the form of opinions, judgments, analyses, projections, expectations,and preferences. Mindfulness practice teaches us to focus our attention on the sensory input of the present moment -- what we are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, sensing, and feeling and to let go of the discrimination of attachment and aversion.

In Buddhism, greed, hatred, and ignorance are called the Three Poisons. The Four Great Wisdoms are loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Through regular, ongoing mindfulness practice and through daily meditation we can literally train our brain which results in the transformation of negative thought habits and feelings into positive emotions, qualities and virtues. The Heart Sutra, which is recited daily in Buddhist monasteries throughout the world, begins: “Avolokiteshvara, practicing deeply the prajna paramita, clearly saw that all five skandas (form, sensation, perception, mental reaction, and consciousness) are empty transforming all suffering and distress.” I don’t know of any other religion or philosophy that claims to transform suffering and distress, but the Heart Sutra also states, “This is truth not mere formality”!

Tae-hsin made his bows before Seng-ts’an and said, “I beg the compassion of Your Reverence, Please teach me the Dharma Way of emancipation.”
Seng-ts’an said, “Who is binding you?”
Tae-hsin said, “No one is binding me.”
Seng-ts’an said, “Then why should you search for emancipation?” Hearing this,
Tao-hsin had great realization.

Quoted by Robert Aitken in The Morning Star