Toward a Lightness of Being

What is the Emotional Life of a Buddha?Daniel Goleman

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HAN SHAN WEEPS at the passing of those he knew and loved. Ryokan sheds a tear at the fate of a wayward teenager. These are tears of compassion, not those of anger, rage, or betrayal. For in the face of life's travails, such beings are essentially unflappable—though their hearts may still break on seeing other people's suffering, their weeping is without attachment.

Such, at any rate, is the emotional life of arhats, the Noble Ones of Buddhism, who have extinguished all passions. Theirs is an otherworldly equanimity; the Pali canon, the classic texts of Theravadin Buddhism, describes arhats as being so at peace that they easily "endure heat, cold, hunger, thirst, the touch of mosquitoes, gadflies, wind and creeping things, abusive language, and bodily feelings that are painful, sharp, severe, wretched, miserable, deadly."


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