Restraining Our Emotions

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Roadblocks to compassion

Fostering compassion calls for restraining those factors which inhibit its development and cultivating those which are conducive to it. When we lack inner restraint unethical conduct flourishes rather than compassion.

In this lesson you learn how, cultivating inner discipline, you can begin to perfect an overall state of heart and mind from which all actions spring — developing an ethic of restraint.

A major undertaking

Do you find the prospect of inner restraint daunting? Reflect on how you practice restraint in your life now. Remember, compassion is an emotion with a component of reason. That is, it is practical. How do you choose, by reason, where restraint is needed?

The Dalai Lama acknowledges the challenge and then challenges us:

I cannot deny that this is a major undertaking, but at least we are familiar with the principle. For example, knowing its destructive potential, we restrain both ourselves and our children from indulging in drug abuse. Ethics for the New Millennium

In your example(s) of self restraint in the previous reflection did you attempt to understand the destructive nature of the actions you were inhibiting, rather than just attempting to suppress negativity?

Acting ethically isn't a matter of obeying rules.

Do you think that being told that anger is destructive is adequate to prevent it from arising and being expressed?

If we order our lives externally but ignore the inner dimension, inevitably we will find that doubt, anxiety, and other afflictions develop, and happiness eludes us. This is because, unlike physical discipline, true inner - or spiritual - discipline cannot be achieved by force but only through voluntary and deliberate effort based on understanding. Ethics for the New Millennium

It is from understanding our mind that we come to understand our emotions and their impact upon ourselves and others. Inner discipline is not something we will or grudgingly agree to; it comes from a deliberate and voluntary effort to understand our emotions, our responses, and our impact on others, through discipline and restraint.