Destructive Emotions —
a Buddhist Perspective

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Antidotes to emotions

If we are to affect our negative emotions, we must start by recognizing how our destructive emotions keep us from seeing true reality. When we can see unobstructed, we can explore the antidotes to destructive emotions and how they relate to  constructive emotions.

Applying an antidote we turn away from our reactive pattern. An antidote is like medicine to help you gain perspective.


Consider hatred — the wish to harm another or to ruin something that belongs to or is dear another. Can you think of someone you wish to harm? If not, can you think of a time when you wished to harm someone? Now try to feel for that person altruistic love.

Can you feel both love and hatred toward a person, at the same time?

Altruistic love works as an antidote to animosity and the wish to harm. We can't feel love and hatred at the same time. (If it feels like you can, look more closely. While you can alternate between love and hatred, you can't feel them simultaneously.) So by cultivating altruism and loving kindness so that they pervade your mind, their opposites — hatred and a wish to harm — are forced to diminish(and, even possibly disappear).

In Module II you will learn to cultivate patience as an antidote to the emotion of anger and hatred.

Engaging reality: an antidote

There is a temptation to think of freeing ourselves from negative emotions as a process of elimination. Like pest control. But we are not trying to eliminate something but rather to correct a cognitive misunderstanding.

We do try to eliminate something but it's not each one of those pesky emotions. It's unknowing and of wrong perception. In the example of mistaking a rope for a snake, when you recognize that it's a rope and not a snake, there is no snake that has gone somewhere.

You can counteract emotional afflictions by close engagement with reality itself. By closely engaging with reality correctly, you then diametrically oppose and overwhelm the mental afflictions that, by nature, falsely apprehend the nature of reality.