Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Emotions Are Like Hotel Guests

By Lee Yue Heng aka Ah Heng

From the Agara Sutta, we can infer that there was already a hotel industry in the Buddha's time. The sutta makes references to different types of guests in a guest house:

In a guest house, O monks, people from the east may take lodgings, or people from the west, north or south. People from the warrior caste may come and take lodgings there, and also Brahmans, middle class people and menials.
The Buddha compares our emotions and feelings to such guests:
Similarly, O monks, there arise in this body various kinds of feelings; there arise pleasant feelings, painful feelings and neutral feelings; worldly feelings that are pleasant, painful or neutral, and unworldly feelings that are pleasant, painful and neutral.
Guests at a hotel come and go. They check in, stay for a while and eventually they have to check out.

The implication of the this discourse is that we should train our minds to develop equanimity, so as not be too affected or attached to feelings. Very often, we get angry or upset and become "captured" by our feelings. They become so real to us and we get destabilized by them. We forget that they are impermanent, fleeting sensations. Emotions come according to temporary causes and conditions and leave when these causes and conditions dissipate.

If we are not mindful, we can become so attached to these emotions that even after the "turbulence" has subsided, we are still attached to the imprint left behind by these emotions. In doing so, we create suffering for ourselves and others.

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