The two faces of the mind
To develop love and compassion, we first need to understand our current situation. In order to develop authentic love and compassion, it is necessary to look at our emotional processes, and at the disturbances that arise in our mind. We should take our time in becoming aware of that which occupies the mind. In Tibetan, the word for “disturbing emotions” points to a mind that is continuously disturbed. It is not a question of having only one emotion in one moment, but of all the emotions with all their effects and consequences.
The disturbing emotions
The disturbing emotions are : jealousy, attachment, anger and all the different states in which we find ourselves. We have these emotions, but we would like to get rid of them. When they come up, we fight against them. We do not want to be disturbed. However, we need to understand that emotions are not completely negative. If they disturb us, it is because we do not know how they function or what to make of them. Nevertheless, the emotions are an integral part of the dynamic processes of life.
Mind has two aspects : yeshe and namshe, in Tibetan. Yesheis a dimension of wisdom, of clear thinking which recognizes itself and which recognizes the emotions as being a part of itself.
Namshé is a consciousness that is limited, separated or disconnected. We are now in this consciousness which is full of confusion and disturbances. But yeshe and namshe, wisdom and confusion, are two aspects of the mind. Therefore, even if we wanted to, we could not get rid of the emotions, we can neither stop them, nor give them up.
What is relevant, however, is to understand how the emotions function, how they come up and from where they come. For example, when jealousy arises, we need to see it, to be aware of it. Try to see its cause and its effect. Not only do we need to see the aspect of emotions that affects us internally, (that is to say, how it is in our mind/consciousness, how it makes us feel) but also, we need to be aware of what it makes us do, the actions that are motivated and initiated by jealousy, for example.
If we look carefully in the moment when jealousy arises, we will see that we choose a side, and obviously our side is always the best. It is the others that are on the wrong side. It is a little like the football matches in France : before the match starts, we have already chosen “our” team. We know it is the team we will root for while watching the game on television. But if we are travelling and find ourselves for instance in Asia or Latin America watching a football match on television, we cannot grasp very much at the beginning. There are the two teams, their shirts are different in color. But very quickly, without even realizing it, we will choose a color and a team. We will then cheer on our chosen team and criticize the other.
This holds true not just for football ; this same process applies in very many situations, taking sides, encouraging one and criticizing the other. Most of the time we carry this posture of judgement : “He is wrong, his attitude is erroneous. It is obvious that he cannot be right, I am right.” We are constantly talking to ourselves like this and we are absorbed in duality. We always choose the best aspect and the best side; and the best team is obviously our team. We have to be right. We are like judges ever presiding over who is wrong and who is right. We act like the high magistrate of our existence.
Often, we cannot look at ourselves, because it is too painful to do so, or because we are unceasingly judging ourselves. Rather than saying, “I cannot accept that”, or denying the situation in which we find ourselves, we really need to look and see, to be aware of what is happening.
Being able to see or be aware of our emotions does not mean that we will be able to live the emotions in a right way from day to day. We should not expect immediate result, neither should we make the mistake of thinking like this : “I am jealous, I know it well, and I will never be any good !” It is not a question of culpability by admitting that we are bad. Guilt or culpability has no place in consciousness or in vigilance. Rather, it is a question of seeing who we are and what is right. If we are aware, our thinking becomes clearer, then it is possible to see the emotions in the instant they arise. As a result, our mind will be increasingly free. We release the mind of any obstacles. This fruit or result will not come up directly because we cannot liberate ourselves immediately of all obstacles. Just because we have resolved to see the emotions does not mean that we can see them. Nevertheless, little by little, we will come to recognize the true balance that is within us. We will recognize who we really are. We will in turn realize that others are in the same situation as we are, that they have the same emotions and experience the same confusion.
Take the example of a baby who suddenly cries because we have left him on his own. We are not angry about it. We might be a little irritated, but no hatred is aimed towards the baby. We excuse the baby for crying because he is too young to understand.
On the other hand, when faced with an adult with the same reaction, immediately we would form an opinion about him. We will directly reduce him to our vision of things and our perception. If only we can get pass our subjectivity, if only we can manage to be more and more aware of what is happening within ourselves, then, instead of seeing the defects of others, we will pacify our own minds. We will be much more at ease and peaceful. Given any situation, we experience it not from the point of view of the defects of others, but from the perspective of seeking a possible solution that is positive. Instead of being judgmental, we think: “How can I help him find a solution to the situation that is positive both for him and for me?” Gradually, we will soften from within – from the harshness of the ego we arrive at the softness of compassion.