From “Happiness” by Matthew Ricard


You might think that ignorance and negative emotions are inherent to the flow of consciousness, and that trying to rid yourself of them is like fighting against a part of yourself. 


But the most fundamental aspect of consciousness, the pure faculty of knowing—what has been called the “luminous” quality of the mind—contains no hatred or desire at its core. 


A mirror, for instance, will reflect both angry faces and smiling ones. The very quality of the mirror allows countless images to arise, yet none of them belongs to the mirror. 


In fact, if the angry face were intrinsic to the mirror, it could be seen at all times and would prevent other images from arising.



Similarly, the most fundamental quality of cognition, the luminous quality of the mind, is what allows the arising of thoughts and underlies all of them. 


Yet none of these thoughts belongs intrinsically to the fundamental nature of the mind. 



The experience of introspection shows, on the contrary, that the negative emotions are transitory mental events that can be obliterated by their opposites, the positive emotions, acting as antidotes.



To that end, we have to begin by recognizing that the afflictive emotions are harmful to our well-being. 


This assessment is based not on some dogmatic distinction between good and bad, but on observation of the short-and long-term repercussions of certain emotions on oneself and on others. 


But the mere fact of recognizing the harmful effects of mental afflictions is not enough to overcome them. 


Having come to this awareness, you still have gradually to familiarize yourself with each antidote—loving-kindness as antidote to hatred, for instance—until the absence of hatred becomes second nature. 


The Tibetan word gom, which is usually translated as “meditation,” more precisely denotes “familiarization,” while the Sanskrit word bhavana, also translated as “meditation,” means “cultivation.” 


Indeed, meditation is not about sitting quietly in the shade of a tree and relaxing in a moment of respite from the daily grind; it is about familiarizing yourself with a new vision of things, a new way to manage your thoughts, of perceiving people and experiencing the World. 

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