Friday, 28 November 2008


I think that a great many people have trouble seeing how they are responsible for their own feelings. We are responsible for whether we are happy or sad. We are responsible for whether you are grateful or take offense. I feel that thoughts might be like words in that sometimes we are just listening to someone else. I think that Thoughts, Words, and Actions all have an effect on the our realities, and the magnitude is based on the feelings we push.

I feel that we take offense to, anything, because we see some shadow of what we see within our selves, and our own self image. Simply ask yourself why you are letting something offend you. Our initial response is typically the correct one. Sometimes it takes meditation and further examination to face the dark side within us. We are responsible for our realities, and it seems a great many unconsciously give others control over us. We are still responsible even in ignorance.

Sometimes thoughts come from someone who is close to us or is thinking about us.  The easiest way to realize this is if you are thinking about something and then suddenly a stray thought comes out of no where.  Sometimes it is even the base feelings that we recieve.  An example could be of someone we just recently met, and then someone who knows us comes into the situation and suddenly you have an intense feeling towards the new person.  I think that this causes us a lot of trouble as we sometimes feel guilty over thoughts that are from someone else but somehow we think we are the source.  Guilt is a path to our dark side whether we are responsible or not.  A great gift we can give ourselves is to forgive ourselves, and others with love in our heart.

You may be driving along in the city and suddenly someone cuts you off.  I think many would instantly get angry at the person in question.  Yet that person could have a good reason for what they did.  Even if your desire to be unimpeded was greater, anger only lowers yourself.  Love, joy, and happiness are the highest of frequencies and help you the most.  Our dark sides only decieve us and lead to our own downfall.  Force yourself to smile for half a minute, listen to a joyful song, watch a movie with and happy ending, and you will notice your mood change.  We may live in a world of Taijitsu, and we still may be a source of joy for others.


  1. In honoring the tradition that truth is found in peaceful discourse and discussion, I feel the need to raise some points about this post that worry me.

    The first paragraph strikes me as a bit odd. The rest of the post is filled with lots of points about compassion and equanimity, but I worry about telling everyone they are responsible for every emotion they have. My family has a vast history of mental illness, and I worry that telling all people they are responsible for every feeling they harbor can be harmful. Those who suffer from mental illnesses such as chemical depression can't just pull themselves out of it or meditate themselves into happiness. Some people need help beyond their own capacities. Not everyone is responsible for everything.

    With that said, I think Buddhism offers some particularly interesting points of view on these kinds of situations. The notion of responsibility gets all messed up in light of anatman in ways that can make room for some very egalitarian, humanitarian, equalizing thoughts.

    I'm really glad I found this place, by the way. Thank you, Peter, for pointing me in this direction.

  2. Good points Mark.

    I think most interpretations of traditional Buddhism would say that our past actions are (among) the conditions for our present situation, which is hard to dispute really.

    But I agree that guilt and blame are unhelpful. And they have never been seen that way in Buddhism. Guilt and blame are judgements. And the concept (that's what it is) of responsibility is loaded with judgement too. We can't judge things out of existence. Buddhism also teaches that there is no continuing self that possesses this karma.

    I think the key is to see with equinamity how our present acts and thoughts condition the future and act accordingly. But (as I've been taught anyway) this action is not about controlling.

  3. I have to agree with Mark, though your comment, Justin, goes to clarify your meaning. I think even the traditional view of karma does not really support the claim that we are responsible for our feelings. In the first moment that feelings arise, this is not a volitional act of the present, but past-karma turning up in a situation. In many situations, we just are going to feel angry, sad, infatuated or whatever. The point to working with karma is to accept this past karma without feeding it. When I say feeding it, I don't just mean give more of the same (you get angry and stay angry), but feeding it in the sense that your response whatever it may be is out of a sense of this-is-how-its-got-to-be self. We feed our karma by giving into it AND by rejecting or repressing it.

  4. Thank you for your time and energy in reading and responding to what I wrote! I completely agree with the concerns that has been raised. It has taken me a while to realize some of them, myself.

    I suffer from major depression due to a chemical imbalance. It took me a while to understand why it is good to accept help in the form of medication. I think everything is energy and thus certain segments of energy (i.e. medication) on the Prime Material, can and does help us. The main trial I held against myself was the idea that I was some how worth less if I could not fix my own problem. So I think it is very important to be thankful and grateful for the help others offer us.

    I also feel that sometimes the thoughts and feelings we think are our own, are actually us receiving from someone else. So responsibility sometimes falls to those outside of us. My mother had trouble understanding what I wrote before and so maybe I should reword/rethink next time.

    Guilt and blame only lead to our dark side. I think it is important to face these feelings and embrace them. I feel that fighting our dark side only leads to our downfall. We can be responsible for all of our feelings and we can still be happy and filled with joy. This is why I said: 'I feel that a great gift we can give ourselves is to forgive ourselves with love in our heart.' However, I think that we must recognize our responsibility in order to realize how to move forward. Like a guidance system for a missile must know where it is in the world in order for it to guide the missile to it's destination.

  5. Actually, the Buddha taught that the two qualities of guilt (or shame) and fear of wrongdoing were the two bright guardians of the world.

    Following from this, when someone makes you angry by doing something like cutting you off on the road, Buddhist teachings sometimes suggests that you reflect on how this is a result of your own bad karma.

    I haven't had very good results in trying to apply this advice in daily life. Force yourself to smile? Try to imagine that the other person has a good reason to make you angry? Remember that you deserve it? It could be that anger is a broad term that covers many different emotions with different sources and expressions. Is it really true that rage, hatred, violence are the basically the same as quietly muttering an insult while on the road?

  6. Maybe Buddha is a better person than I; Yet, I still see anger as a path to our darker side, and is to be avoided. I feel that our darker side is a gradient. This translates Hatred to be an extreme, versus muttering obsentities at someone who cut you off on the road; And, this is why I refer to this as a path to our darker side.

  7. Before cause and effect, reflect on karma.

  8. Trepe,
    If the Buddha is a better person than you then I think he should be killed.
    To my understanding, Buddha says that
    anger is one manifestation of avoidance, born of thoughts of a concrete self. To avoid the manifestation, another thought, is just more avoidance and what is ignored will bust out in another form eventually. I cover up the avoidance by saying I want the good side instead. This how I believe the Buddha gets co-opted by Self Help and contributes to the misreading of the Four Noble Truths. Buddha taught of suffering and no suffering. He didn't teach a way of not suffering because the "not" covers up the "is", and is is the 1st and 2nd Truths, is-not the 3rd and 4th Truths.
    What I want is light and what I don't want is dark. Not wanting is just the other side of wanting.
    But... even Emmanuel Kant threw up his hands when he got to this point and wouldn't go past it!
    Buddha said suffering was like getting hit by an arrow. We have no responsibility for getting hit, but we do for taking it out. If we don't take it out, we cover it up some how. That's what feelings are for. To make me feel better.

  9. Thank you! I am very grateful for this dialogue. I think that sometimes there is a tendency to only accept the light and to fight the dark. Avoiding the darkness is still fighting the darkness. I find it hard to accept, and I see that embracing the dark is to truly center yourself with light. I am suggesting that forgiving yourself, and others, for the darkness within them allows us to center ourselves within the light. Metaphorically, we must grasp both sides of a coin in order to have any control over it.

    An example is the word Drama. I see many people say they hate drama. Yet they have friends, and family, and are social creatures. I think that the only person who truly avoids drama is the hermit who is alone in spirit and in material.

  10. Even though you are talking about about 'forgiveness' and 'grasping both sides' you are still being judgemental with yourself. There is no 'light' and 'dark' side - no 'two sides' at all, except what you conceptually impute to the situation.

  11. To leap-frog here:
    Justin's last sentence goes back to what I said about the Four Noble Truths. That's nothing but the drama of the Self, to be sure. The perception of being split. No need for me to forgive others about their drama. From my experience that's confusing for them and me because forgiving implies a position. Since no one need be affected, there is nothing to forgive. Forgiving and imposing a feeling of hurt both play into the drama.
    Isn't comedic how we contradict ourselves sometimes? Isn't hate full of drama? If I've realized that, then I'll naturally respond differently. I don't need extra thought of what to do. That's just me trying to trick myself into thinking I don't in fact know what's going on.
    Remember light was one of the sides. Maybe sitting in the middle is to sit in the nothing-but... which would be no light, no darkness. That darkness is a verb here is significant in that it implies a concealing. So the words truth and light imply a conflict of concealment.
    Heidegger did a great study of truth in "Paremenides".

  12. I think this calls the truth of Karma into question as well. Putting things into question doesn't mean they are wrong. Maybe the effect is not what I think it is and it's really the cause.
    It all seems like word games at first, then it's realized that that's what got me in a mess in the first place. Tying thoughts up in knots (nots).
    I noticed when I studied a picture of an Enzo, that in Knot Theory it's called a no-Knot. I thought that was telling.