This issue recently popped up. A close friend of mine told me that she thinks Buddhism leads people to become cut off from emotion, or the emotional aspect of experiencing life (and as an extension to that, expressed her concern for my own well-being).
I cited a few examples of how I am certainly not cut off from emotion. I get wet eyes watching movies, and even avoid a lot of TV drama because it disturbs my “mental equilibrium” if you want to call it that.
The other person, by the way, tends to have (in my view) strong emotional responses to just about everything. She’s not bipolar, but if something makes her angry, for example, it makes her really angry. She also tends to take things that occur in her life very personally, even if (in my opinion) they aren’t specifically about her.
So, this just makes me wonder whether there really is some kind of “objective” mid-way point that is best for everyone, or whether some people are by nature very emotionally reactive to everything, while others are just a bit more even tempered by nature.
It seems to me that the answer is, everybody is different.
But, if that’s the case, how does this suggest applying the teachings to those who are predisposed to (and perhaps not suffering from) emotional extremes?
It has been my experience that people who at one time were easily angered, or easily excited, now after practicing meditation and/or other Buddhist practices say they are happier and more content with life, as they are no longer being “pushed around” by whatever emotion shows up.
At the same time, my experiences with people lead me to think that there are many who are simply happier succumbing to every emotional whim, who enjoy constant striving, who experience perpetual dissatisfaction not as suffering, but rather, as a life motivator. They will have no more use for “calm abiding” meditation, than would a scurrying chipmunk. It’s just not in their “nature” (but doesn’t the idea of such a fixed “nature” contradict the ‘truth’ of the teachings?)
It can be argued, of course, that such is karmically driven and will also lead subsequently to unfavorable rebirths and so on, but that’s taking the discussion in a different direction.
What do you think? Of course, the Buddhist path itself is not the path for everyone. Nobody disputes this. My question is whether the “truth” ...of suffering, it’s cause, the truth of the teachings in general, applies to everyone in a similar way, or in fundamentally different ways, or perhaps not at all?
What do you think?
An inward outlook develops outward insight.