Dalai Lama Quote from Snow Lion Publications

Snow Lion Publications

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

Our sense of self
As long as we cling to some notion of objective existence–the idea that something actually exists in a concrete, identifiable way–emotions such as desire and aversion will follow. When we see something we like–a beautiful watch, for example–we perceive it as having some real quality of existence among its parts. We see the watch not as a collection of parts, but as an existing entity with a specific quality of watch-ness to it. And if it’s a fine mechanical timepiece, our perception is enhanced by qualities that are seen to exist definitely as part of the nature of the watch. It is as a result of this misperception of the watch that our desire to possess it arises.

In a similar manner, our aversion to someone we dislike arises as a result of attributing inherent negative qualities to the person. When we relate this process to how we experience our own sense of existence–how the thought “I” or “I am” arises–we notice that it invariably does so in relation to some aspect of our physical or mental aggregates.

Our notion of ourselves is based upon a sense of our physical and emotional selves. What’s more, we feel that these physical and mental aspects of ourselves exist inherently. My body is not something of which I doubt the specificity. There is a body-ness as well as a me-ness about it that very evidently exists. It seems to be a natural basis for my identifying my body as “me.” Our emotions such as fear are similarly experienced as having a valid existence and as being natural bases for our identifying ourselves as “me.” Both our loves and our hates serve to deepen the self sense. Even the mere feeling “I’m cold” contributes to our sense of being a solid and legitimate “I.”(p.61)

–from A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life by The Dalai Lama, edited by Nicholas Vreeland, afterword by Richard Gere

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