Cultivating Skillful Means

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The nature of reality as an antidote

In this lesson we've briefly introduced a few of the antidotes for specific states of mind. There is, as well, an overriding antidote:

Insight into the ultimate nature of reality acts as an antidote to all of the negative states of mind. It is similar to getting rid of a poisonous plant: you can eliminate the harmful effects by cutting off the specific branches and leaves, or you can eliminate the entire plant by going to the root and uprooting it.

Motivation as an antidote

Another primary antidote focuses on transforming one's underlying motivation. Again and again we see the Dalai Lama returning to the importance of proper motivation:

In fact all human action can be seen in terms of movement, and the mover behind all actions is one's motivation. If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal. Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort. But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.

When we act motivated by concern for others we find that our emotional afflictions diminish immediately. The Dalai Lama contends that helpful actions motivated by one's own intentions, beneficial as they might be for others in the short term, do not affect our deep-seated anxiety.