The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism

This book examines the psychological dimensions of emotions and humour in Buddhism. While there is a wealth of material concerning human emotions related to humour and the mindful management of negative emotions, very little has been written on the theory of Buddhist humour. Uniting both Buddhist and Western philosophy, the author draws upon the theory of ‘incongruity humour’, espoused by figures such as Kierkegaard, Kant and Hegel and absorbed into the interpretation of humour by the Buddhist monk and former Western philosopher, Ñāṇavīra Thero. The author makes extensive use of rich primary sources such as the parables used by Ajahn Brahm while interweaving Western theories and philosophies to illuminate this original study of humour and emotion. This pioneering work will be of interest and value to students and scholars of humour, Buddhist traditions and existentialism more widely.

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The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism Padmasiri de Silva

The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism

Padmasiri de Silva

The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism

Padmasiri de Silva Monash University Clayton, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

ISBN 978-3-319-97513-9 ISBN 978-3-319-97514-6  (eBook) Library of Congress Control Number: 2018949615 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors, and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: © Melisa Hasan This Palgrave Pivot imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Humour is playful and non-reactive response to the tragic contradictions in the world

Ajahn Cha Ajahn Brahm Ñāṇavīra Thera for integrating a deep sense of humour into Buddhist pedagogy


Professor Padmasiri de Silva (b. 1933) holds an impressive and long-lasting academic career. He has been as an influential teacher, scholar, educator, and academic leader. He inspired several generations of academics. He guided many like me by being very kind, understanding, and generous, and extending a helping hand. Before 1989, Prof. de Silva was very much rooted in Sri Lanka. He guided and led the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Peradeniya by taking over headship from the late Prof. K. N. Jayatilleke (1920–1970). In 1985, Prof. de Silva was the visionary who introduced the novel idea of studying comparative religion to the Sri Lankan university setting. In 1990, he had moved to Singapore and then to Monash University, Melbourne. In the last decades, he has adopted Australia as his home while venturing into new fields such as psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and contemplative practices. Professor de Silva graduated from the University of Ceylon with an Honours Degree in Philosophy. His early training was in the philosophy of mind, which enabled him to earn both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in East-West comparative philosophy for a thesis on Buddhist and Freudian psychology from the University of Hawaii (1964–1967). In the 1980s, he held both the professorship of philosophy and also guided the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Peradeniya as its head (1980–1989). After leaving Sri Lanka at the height of ethnic violence in the late 1980s, he held a teaching position at the National University of Singapore, several visiting positions at the ix



University of Pittsburgh, and was involved in the ISLE programme (Intercollegiate Sri Lanka Education Program). He also held a position at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Since 1994, in his adopted home in Melbourne, Australia, he has been a Research Associate in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University. In the later years of his academic life, he has developed professional skills by obtaining an Advanced Diploma in Counselling (2006) and practised as a professional counsellor developing his own method. Those in the field of Buddhist psychology and comparative philosophy do not need any introduction to Prof. de Silva’s academic career or publications. His significant publications include: (i) Buddhist and Freudian Psychology (1973), (ii) Tangles and Webs: Comparative Studies in Existentialism and Psychoanalysis of Buddhism (1974), (iii) Value Orientations and Nation Building (1976), (iv) An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology (1979), (v) Twin Peaks: Compassion and Insight: Emotions and the ‘Self’ in Buddhist and Western Thought (1991), (vi) Environmental Philosophy and Ethics in Buddhism (1998), (vii) Buddhist Ethics and Society: The Conflicts and Dilemmas of Our Times (2002), (viii) An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling: Pathways of Mindfulness-Based Therapies (2014), (ix) Emotions and The Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Pathways of Somatic Intelligence (2017a), and (x) The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies (2017b). Readers may find that Prof. de Silva’s newest publication The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism: Mindful Emotions through Anger, Greed, Conceit and Humour is extremely enriching. As well as dealing with later traditions, this new book makes substantial contributions to the understanding of psychology embedded in early Buddhism. Rather than limiting the scope of investigation to Theravāda Buddhism alone, it successfully integrates materials outside the mainstream South Asian tradition. It sheds valuable insights in understanding how basic emotions such as anger and greed, which are foundational emotions in the Buddhist scheme of analysis both in personal lives and soteriology, shape and affect human lives in significant ways. In a creative and appealing manner, the book is well organised to engage even the unfamiliar reader with new materials drawn from Buddhist traditions. The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism is both entertaining and insightful. It highlights the significance of a normal thing—an ordinary aspect of life for healthy living. We all smile; mostly



naturally, sometimes deliberately; we often like to have good humour and undoubtedly become very disappointed with bad humour. However, we rarely contemplate this natural activity; let alone philosophically. This work looks at humour from a philosophical standpoint. The data that it concentrates on is Buddhist. Its analysis cuts across various boundaries such as East and West that obstruct our understanding of the human phenomenon and its conditions. It contains rich and humorous stories; at the same time, its treatment is scholarly. On the whole, it is a valuable and long-lasting contribution to our knowledge of both Buddhism and psychology, a field that is growing fast in the West, both in the university setting and outside it, in applied areas such as health care. This work demonstrates Prof. de Silva’s mature scholarship as well as his personal outlook on human well-being and flourishing, with many penetrating insights to make human lives more successful and rewarding. A significant contribution in understanding the role and impact of emotions from Buddhist points of view, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism is built upon the investigations that Prof. de Silva carried out over three decades ago with his paper ‘The Psychology of Emotions in Buddhist Perspective’, which he delivered initially as the Sir Don Baron Jayatilaka (1868–1944) Commemoration Lecture in 1976. It is worth noting here that this recent work brings together Prof. de Silva’s mature insights on the psychology of Buddhism developed over a period of five decades since the early 1960s. Bath, UK

Mahinda Deegalle Bath Spa University


I have been fortunate to publish two monographs in the Palgrave Macmillan and Springer, Pivot edition series: Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Pathways of Somatic Intelligence1; and The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies.2 The encouragement and appreciation I have received from the editorial staff of Palgrave Macmillan was immense and the feedback from interested readers within this short time was greatly reassuring so that I continue these projects with something new, a theme hardly explored yet by any other scholar in the way that I have presented. My interest is in the practical concerns of Buddhist pedagogy: working through ‘mindful emotions’ integrated with humour; the use of humour as satire and a critique of social pathology; and giving a new interpretation of Buddhist humour as an incongruity theory—this is not a passive piece of research. I wish to do far more than to collect references to humour in Buddhist discourses but rather to present a theory of humour, the incongruity theory across Buddhist and Western existentialism, along with other alternative theories; and to link this study to the social dimensions of humour and above all to ‘mindful’ emotions. This, in short, is the thematic perspective of the present study. In the West, existentialist philosophers like Søren Kierkegaard have already presented an incongruity theory of humour. It must be clearly stated at the beginning that this study is basically focused on early Buddhism (Theravāda) in which I have been immersed for many long years and where I have, over the years, studied the original sources. My xiii



understanding of Zen is limited to secondary sources but the material on Zen is quite illuminating, especially techniques like ‘category reversal’ and the embracing of the opposites. While the ‘incongruity theory is central’, I have included a wide array of materials which depict Buddhist perspectives on ‘humour’. But, working on my last book, I developed a very insightful understanding of Zen which in fact generated an added incentive to look at Zen humour. In my most recent book, The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies,3 I have focused on Zen koans, paradoxes, dilemmas, and polarisation against the background of management studies and early Buddhism: ‘The focus is on conflict studies and people entrapped in conflicts, dilemmas, paradoxes and ambivalence and through them develop a methodology to unravel situations where one has to deal with dialectical opposition by integration, balance and new vistas of integration.’4 A closely related function of humour in Zen is that of ‘embracing opposites’; as I have shown in my book, this thesis has been integrated into dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).5 This background is also one of the factors that stimulated me to explore humour in early Buddhism and Zen Buddhism. Above all, I have only seen very short references to humour in Buddhism in the Theravāda tradition when researching across the Internet and so was disappointed. I wanted: (i) a more full-blown theory that would integrate the different emotions; (ii) to bring together different efforts at active pedagogy like the parables used by Ajahn Brahm; (iii) to review the television documentary/satire of Alain de Botton on status anxiety, and the central issues regarding identity crisis and social pathology (iv) and to provide a Buddhist analysis that would hold a mirror to de Botton’s work, Status Anxiety,6 through the entangled human emotions; (v) to develop Kierkegaard’s theory of humour and irony as an incongruity theory of humour, along with a comparison of Buddhism and Kierkegaard, on which I have done original research.7 (vi) The best link across Buddhism to Kierkegaard on an incongruity theory of humour has been the Venerable Ñāṇavīra’s work, The Tragic, The Comic and the Personal.8 Ñāṇavīra was originally a British philosopher who had mastered the philosophy of existentialism. Though Venerable Ñāṇavīra Thera’s life and work including his book, Clearing the Path9 has generated discussion, controversy, and some sympathy for his personal struggles, this analysis of the tragic-comedy is a real gem so I am limiting my references to the first-mentioned publication—a very insightful



work. And, the allusions to Kierkegaard and Buddhism are the product of research carried out by me at the University of Hawaii under experts on existentialism, some of which has been published.10 I value the case for an incongruity theory of humour as suggested in this little book by Ñāṇavīra Thera but do not commit myself fully to his other writings, partly due to their complexity. Furthermore, (vii) as the study of Freud and Buddhism has been my postgraduate research, I have a limited comparison of the links between the subliminal and humour in Freud’s relief and catharsis theory. A well-integrated study welding all these six features is the overall approach followed in this monograph. (viii) I have added some variety from the Buddhist discourse by a number of selected sermons: the poisoned arrow; the raft; the snake simile; conflicting theories; the sermon on fear and dread.

Locating This Work in the Context of Work Done in Buddhist Studies Buddhist scholars and monks, in general, have not greatly explored the nature of humour in Buddhism. There is one exception and that is Thanissaro Bhikkhu, The Buddha Smiles.11 This work brings a great deal of useful material from the sermons of the Buddha on the topics of devas, Brahmas and non-human beings; sensuality; palace life; views opposed to Dhamma; human weaknesses and psychic powers. While I recommend it to potential readers, my work is greatly different in its objectives, in the material presented and in potential readers. (i) My work is a study of humour against the background of Buddhist and Western philosophy, especially the existentialist tradition of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre and is absorbed into the interpretation of humour by the Buddhist monk, Ñāṇavīra Thera (formerly a Western philosopher). (ii) This study examines theories of humour with a focus on incongruity theory, superiority theory (briefly) and the relief theory of Freud. A recent study of intelligence and humour says that it is the intellectually gifted students who grasped the ‘incongruity’ concept in humour. (iii) The work on mindful emotions and humour emphasises the practical value of this study which is also applicable in daily life. (iv) The focus on the documentary, Status Anxiety,12 generates a very lively interest in the subject and its relevance to everyday life. It is also linked



to my emotion studies. (v) The parables of Ajahn Brahm illuminate new frontiers in Buddhist pedagogy. (vi) The presentation and critique of the lifestyle of sensuality in Buddhism and Kierkegaard add a depth that cannot be attained by having merely a collection of references to sensuality in the sermons. Let me first make a review of the related issue of laughter, which is not necessarily linked to humour, though it is not completely unrelated. In post-Buddhist speculation about laughter, the question was raised whether the Buddha laughed at all: There were those among the Buddhist scholastics who clearly would have preferred to believe that the Buddha never laughed at all, especially after his enlightenment experience at Bodhgaya. The Buddha’s wisdom and the Buddha’s mission seemed to require the ultimate in seriousness, gravity and solemnity. There was no objection to the suggestion that the youthful Siddhartha Gautama laughed during his self-indulgent period in his father’s palace. In fact, laughter might well be seen as a characteristic expression of the frivolity and sensuality of his early life, prior to his discovery of the Middle Way and the Four Noble Truths. Laughter seems inextricably bound up with the young Gautama’s self-indulgence.13

The scholastic attempt to resolving the apparent contradiction between laughter and an enlightened state resulted in a classification made by Bharata in a theatrical treatise of the six forms of laughter: sita, a faint smile, serene, refined and subtle; hasita, a smile which slightly reveals the tips of the teeth; vihasita a broader smile accompanied by modest laughter; upahasita, a more pronounced laughter associated with movements of the head, shoulders and the arms; apahasita, loud laughter that brings tears to the eyes; atihasita, uproarious laughter, doubling, slapping the thighs, etc. These different types of laughter are related to different social groupings. Given this hierarchical scheme, Buddhist scholastics would agree that the Buddha displayed, sita, the most reserved, tranquil form of laughter. That it is manifested by the Buddha at all is only because he is standing at the threshold between the unenlightened: like the yogic state of bhavamukka where the Buddha sees the juxtaposition and the contradiction of the unenlightened and the enlightened, and from here the world of greed and sensuality appears as a mockery.14 On this issue, Thanissaro Thero cites several contexts of the smile of the Buddha which had a sense of distance and detachment to the listeners and he considers this



‘distance’ important for humour. His study goes beyond Hyers in presenting innumerable contexts of Buddha’s smile/laughter. Hyers’s study is limited with reference to the Buddhist suttas, though it is useful in an area where research material is limited. But the basic Buddhist perspective on humour, developed in the present book, is humour as a theory of incongruity and seeing inner contradictions in lives. But there are more simple examples in the Buddha’s dialogues and sermons where the Buddha portrays the contradictions in the lives of people in dialogues reminiscent of the Socratic dialogues and also intense debates.

Humour as a Theory of Incongruity Venerable Ñāṇavīra Thera’s The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal15 was a trailblazer. Furthermore, Ajahn Brahm’s wonderful collection of stories padded with lots of humour, Opening the Door of Your Heart (2008),16 indicated quite seriously that humour may be a part of Buddhist pedagogy. He followed the footsteps of his great teacher in Thailand, Ajahn Cha, whose humour was again a part of his pedagogy. In his teaching, occasionally he looked like a Zen master. Last but not least, Alain de Botton’s television comedy/documentary, also available as a book, Status Anxiety, presented three questions with a very refined sense of humour: Do you worry about how well you are doing? Are you envious of your friend’s success? Are you suffering from status anxiety?17 Both entertaining and thought-provoking, it was touching: perhaps what may be described as social pathology. One has to be very cautious when you turn to Buddha’s own pedagogy as it was generated by a sense of great compassion. Wherever there is a touch of humour, it is deep and restrained: and this is a difficult area. The Buddha also had a gentle but compassionate smile. With the Zen masters, the humour was ingrained in their special art of confronting those who came to see them. They used a multiplicity of techniques, some of which, I shall present. But the present study is also focused on mindful emotions, which is an integrated approach for enriching this study of humour. The Zen philosophy of emotions is important and I shall have a chapter on Zen that includes perspectives on emotions and cutting through ego-centred awareness. This analysis gives a sense of depth as to how Zen grapples with ego-centred emotions and anxiety, suffering, and identity issues.



The other important facet of the present study is ‘mindful emotions’, specifically the negative emotions of anger, envy, discontent, depression, greed, lust, sensuality, and conceit—emotions which are integrally related to the concept of humour that I develop. In writing my previous book on conflict studies, I learnt that a well-integrated study is greatly appreciated by readers. Thus, I have taken a special effort to integrate my emotion studies with an exploration of a Buddhist perspective on humour. This is also a contribution to the ethics of emotion studies in Buddhism. What is important is how instead of opposing, repressing or reacting, we look at negative emotions in a non-judgmental resilient frame of mind. This facet is the complement to the exploration of human weaknesses through humour and mindfulness practice. It is the positive path that the Buddha advocated: even humour may be used in a positive way. While there are instances where humour may be used in a negative way, there are innumerable examples of positive humour. For instance, in Ajahn Brahm, while reading his playful parables, there is a deeper exploration into mindfulness practice, forgiveness, hope and unconditional love. My study of humour will emphasise not merely a quite exhilarating sense of humour, one that may arouse a person from slothfulness and dogmatic slumber, but a pathway to grapple with egocentric identity issues. But beyond this general introduction, it may be useful to make an initial review of the different types of humour ingrained in Buddhist discourses: and to review the presentation of humour. Over the years, one may find useful references to contexts in Buddhist discourses where one may get glimpses of humour, but the present study is a very contemporary approach to humour in Buddhism, and is inspired by the existentialist approach to humour. Also, there is a secondary layer of material especially related to Buddhist pedagogy. I will examine the following: (i) instances where the discourses of the Buddha present many examples of subtle humour, like the juxtaposition of incongruous things. For example, having good intentions but wrong practice will no more lead a person to nibbāna than pulling a cow’s horn will give milk.18 More examples and discussion will be presented in the chapter on Buddhism and humour. (ii) I have selected five discourses, which are of a more philosophical nature which emerge in debates to study: the poisoned arrow; the raft and the snake simile; the discourse on fear and dread; disputes and contention; Kalahavivāda Sutta. (iii) Furthermore, I will look at Buddhist perspectives on identity issues and social pathology. (iv) Other investigations include the relationship of



mindful emotions to humour, for instance, the demon that eats anger; envy in status anxiety and conceit in identity issues; greed and sensual passions; and boredom. There are parallels in Buddhist analysis of boredom with what Søren Kierkegaard writes on ‘boredom’ with its subtle irony. (v) The partly entertaining and partly serious interludes of the Zen master with the warrior and the philosopher whose head is overflowing with theories is another investigation. Comic reversal and collapsing of categories are important Zen techniques. According to a Zen anecdote, the Zen master lay dying and the monks gathered around his bed asked him if he had any final advice to give them. The master opened his eyes and said, ‘Tell them truth is like a river’. The youngest monk asked, “What do you mean, by saying ‘truth is like a river?’” The question went back to the senior monk lying on the bed and he said, ‘Okay truth is not like a river’. This has been interpreted by scholars to indicate the equivalence of alternatives as presented by Nāgārjuna: ‘there is’ vs ‘there is not’. Also, it indicates that alternative positions may be reduced to absurdity: according to Hyers, it is absurd to try to grasp and cling to reality by this or that philosophical position.19 I have presented in detail the Buddha’s critique of metaphysical entanglements, including that of Nāgārjuna, in a separate chapter.20 Though the Buddha used a philosophical dialectical method to confront different philosophers and their philosophies, like the sceptics, the determinists, and the materialists, he did not use it as a tool for liberation. All the five discourses I have selected give some authenticity to the basic themes of this study. Finally, we come to the deepest level of humour which Ñāṇavīra Thera describes as tragi-comedy: Now if we agree with Kierkegaard that both comedy and tragedy are ways of apprehending contradictions, and if we consider how much importance people attach to these things, we shall perhaps suspect that contradiction is a factor to be reckoned with in everyday life. But all this is on the inauthentic level, and to get more light on the question we must consider what Heidegger means by ‘authenticity’.21

Heidegger says our existence is care: we are concerned either positively or negatively with care for ourselves and others. This care can be described but it cannot be accounted for—it is primordial and we have to accept it. This concept of care is what the Buddha describes as bhavataṇhā, craving for being and egoistic pursuits, and the Buddha says that



there is no first point to the craving to being and the ego-oriented projects.22 Ñāṇavīra says that the only difference is Heidegger sees no way of getting rid of it while the Buddha presents a specific path. The inauthentic man is fleeing from authenticity—from angst/anxiety. But the normally smooth surface of the public world of the ‘they’ sometimes shows cracks, and the inauthentic man is pierced by pangs of anxiety. These are the little cracks and fissures in our complacent serious-minded existence. The reason why we laugh is to keep them at a distance, to charm them or even exorcise them as done perhaps in dancing rituals to exorcise the demons in Asian countries. The theory of humour presented by Ñāṇavīra, Heidegger, and Kierkegaard may be described as an incongruity theory compared with the relief theory of Freud. Humour is a playful and non-reactive response to the tragic incongruity in the world. It is said that humour comes in a flash when you discern incongruity. The authentic man faces himself in a reflexive manner and sees this through his existential solitude—he sees that he is alone in the world, but the inauthentic man takes refuge from the disquieting reflections in the anonymous security of the people—the ‘they’.

Humour in Emotion Regulation There is one more topic which needs a brief reference. In the present study, there is an integral relationship between humour and ‘mindful emotions’. During recent times a few experimental studies have been done on the relationship between emotion regulation and humour, which indicates that my attempt to link human emotions and humour is an important issue and is gaining ground through new research. But the metaphysical, psychological and ethical frontiers in Buddhism for humour and emotion regulation are very much different in perspective from those currently emerging in the West. For readers interested in a few studies in the West, a doctoral dissertation by Lindsay Mathews submitted on this subject is available on the Internet.23 In my present study, humour in the context of our emotions has a positive and constructive rule as is skillfully presented by Alain de Botton in his television comedy/documentary, Status Anxiety: Rather than mocking us for our concern with status, the kindest comics tease us: they criticise us while we remain essentially acceptable. Thanks to their skills, we acknowledge with an open-hearted laugh bitter truths about ourselves that we might have recoiled from anger or hurt



had they been levelled at us in an ordinary accusatory way.24 Drama, novels, art, paintings, and poetry create an admirable distance between the audience and the communicator without referring to any specific person. Getting back to Buddhist pedagogy, the Buddha himself used stories, parables, metaphors, analogies etc., to communicate. In fact, Ajahn Brahm’s book of stories has been a very effective communicator. Today, the remarkable stories of the Buddha’s compassionate encounter with Aṅgulimāla, Kisā Gotamī, and Paṭācārā bring to us a voice of compassion over the ages and these encounters have a paradigmatic stance. Good humour calls for effective communication with a positive message. Springvale, Australia

Padmasiri de Silva


1.  Padmasiri de Silva (2017a). Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Pathways of Somatic Intelligence. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 2.  Padmasiri de Silva (2017b). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 3.  Padmasiri de Silva (2017c). The Psychology of Buddhism In Conflict Studies. 4. Padmasiri de Silva. The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies, p. vii. 5. Padmasiri de Silva. The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. 6. Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. 7.  Padmasiri de Silva (2007). Explorers of Inner Space: The Buddha, Krishnamurti & Kierkegaard. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Vishva Lekha. 8. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. 9. Ñāṇavīra Thera (2011). Clearing the Path. Kandy: Path Press. 10.  Padmasiri de Silva (2007). Explorers of Inner Space: The Buddha, Krishnamurti & Kierkegaard. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Vishva Lekha. 11. Thanissaro Bikkhu (2015). The Buddha Smiles. San Diego, CA: Forest Monastery. 12. Alain de Botton. A two-hour documentary film about this thesis, also called ‘Status Anxiety’ and written by Alain de Botton, was released in 2004. A version of it was shown in 2008 on Public Broadcasting Service channels like Boston WGBH-TV’s digital channel WGBX-TV in the United States.



13. C. Hyers (1974). Zen and the Comic Spirit, London: Rider. 14. C. Hyers (1989). ‘Humour in Zen: Comic Midwifery’. 15. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. 16. Ajahn Brahm (2008). Opening the Door of Your Heart. New South Wales: Hachette. 17.  Alain de Botton (2014) Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. 18. M III 141. 19. C. Hyers (1989). ‘Humour in Zen: Comic Midwifery’, Philosophy East and West, vol. 39, no. 3, July, pp. 7, 17. 20. Padmasiri de Silva (2017b) The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies, pp. 15–20. 21. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal, p. 58. 22. A X, 62, V 116. 23.  Lindsay Mathews (2016). ‘Role of Humour in Emotion Regulation: Differential Effects of Adaptive and Maladaptive Forms of Humour’, doctoral dissertation. New York: City University of New York. 24. Alain de Botton (2014). Status Anxiety, pp. 180–181.

References Brahm, A. (1987). Opening the Door of your Heart. Sydney, NSW: Hachette. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. de Silva, P. (2007). Explorers of Inner Space: The Buddha, Krishnamurti & Kierkegaard. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Vishva Lekha. de Silva, P. (2017a). Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Pathways of Somatic Intelligence. London: Palgrave Macmillan. de Silva, P. (2017b). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Hyers, C. (1974). Zen and the Comic Spirit. London: Rider. Hyers, C. (1989, July). ‘Humour in Zen: Comic midwifery’, Philosophy East and West, 39(3), 267–277. Mathews, L. (2016). Role of Humour in Emotion Regulation: Differential Effects of Adaptive and Maladaptive Forms of Humor, doctoral dissertation. New York: City University of New York. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Ñāṇavīra Thera (2011). Clearing the Path. Kandy: Path Press. Thanissaro Bikkhu (2015). The Buddha Smiles. San Diego, CA: Forest Monastery.


I am grateful to Prof. G. Somaratne for helping me with the Pali d ­ iacritical marks. I thank Grace Jackson and Joanna O’Neill at Palgrave Macmillan for the encouragement I received from them throughout this project. Professor Deegalle Mahinda has written a timely preface and I thank him for his great interest in the subject of humour in Buddhism. For going through the whole text with meticulous care and suggesting improvements, I thank Prof. Constant Mews and Maryna Mews. Maneesh, Adeesh and Chandeesh join me in dedicating this work to the cherished memories of my wife Kalyani.




Mindful Emotions 1


The Emotion of Anger 11


Greed, the Acquisitive Drive, and Sensuality 17


Buddhist Perspectives on Contemporary Social Pathology 25


The Buddha’s Techniques of Teaching and the Use of Parables and Similes 29


Conceit and Pride 37


The Deep Philosophy Within Zen Humour 43


The ‘Comic’ in Kierkegaard’s Three Stages of Life and Their Parallels in Buddhism 49


Theories of Humour 55

10 Buddhist Perspectives on Fear 63 xxv



11 Emotional Integrity and Resilience 69 Index 79

Abbreviations for



Sutta Literature

Anguttara Nikaya (Gradual Sayings) Digha Nikaya (Further Dialogues) Majjhima Nikaya (Middle Length Sayings) Samyutta Niaya (Kindred Sayings)



Mindful Emotions

Abstract  Emotions have a great impact on our lives and we need to develop mindfulness of emotions to their complicated relations with bad humour, and explore pathways of looking at one’s limitations with ‘good humour’. Understand in a playful mood depictions of satire, status anxiety in a television drama. Instead of covering bad spots in our lives due to jealousy, envy, conceit and anger open our minds in non-reactive acceptance. Anger is powerful as its movement is often silent and makes a pact with envy and conceit. Being mindful means you see the emergence and passing away of these states indicating ‘impermanence’ and no ‘ownership’. Forgiveness and patience are important qualities to remedy anger. Anger has a strong physiological presence. Keywords  Emotion management Status anxiety · Sense of humour

· Contradictions in our lives

Emotions have a great impact on our lives in innumerable ways and if their role is clearly grasped, it is possible to harness them for greater self-knowledge through the practice of what we may describe as ‘mindful emotions’. This book is an exciting journey of looking at anger, fear and sadness, but also the more complex emotions of jealousy and envy. It is a stimulating entry into the nature of humour that invariably gets entangled with conceit and status anxiety. Anger is the most important negative emotion which feeds a whole dimension of emotions, jealousy, © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




envy, depression, and boredom, and one may say most of the hindrances (nīvaraṇa): aversion, lethargy, agitation, and even sceptical doubt. Grief, sadness, as well as shame and guilt are difficult emotions. If sadness is not well understood it leads to depression. Guilt is more Western, and shame, Eastern. Over the years, I have studied emotion profiles, as it was like a hobby, but my interest in mindful emotions emerged with long years of the practice of insight meditation. Through the avenues of our body, we have to be aware of feelings and thought patterns. In anger and anxiety the body sends the initial messages to the stomach. There is tightening of the throat and even pounding of the heart. But, if a systematic mindfulness practice has been established, one can see the emergence of, for instance, angry thoughts and gradually nip them in the bud. The Buddhist discourses say that if one could see the emergence of anger as it arises and see anger as anger (not lust), then it is easy to see that it does not develop into a complete emotion. Becoming mindful of the rise and fall of psychic states indicating ‘impermanence’ and no ‘ownership’ is the most profound way of mindfulness practice. The practice of mindfulness in relation to emotions always emphasises that bottling up one’s negative emotions has injurious physical as well as psychological consequences. I had in earlier studies made a comparative study of Buddhist and Western theories of emotions, but this study is more directly concerned with ‘emotion profiles’, in terms of mindfulness practice. Identifying and differentiating the nature of different emotions is the work of making emotion profiles. One of the important insights in Buddhist emotion management is to relate the doctrine of ‘impermanence’ to emotion management. The rise and cessation of psychological states indicate that they are not permanent. The crucial point is not to control the emotions but to see their emergence and passing. The other important doctrine is that what is called the ‘self’ is also a dynamic flow. These two doctrines which are central to insight meditation are a basic resource for emotion management. ‘There are certain mind-states and thought patterns which often disturb peace in an ordinary mind. Greed, anger, conceit, jealousy, remorse, self-consciousness, nervousness, timidity, self-centredness, self-pity, phobias, hypersensitivity and obsessions are a few of them’.1 Jayatunga says there are two ways of getting rid of impure mindstates. The first is to replace unwholesome mindful states like anger with



loving kindness and when the mind becomes composed one should focus on the reality of conditioned things, including wholesome states— the focus being on the impermanent, unsatisfactory and non-self. But a bolder way is to develop non-judgemental awareness on such unwholesome states straight away. Thus one could first develop a refined character and then see the true nature of reality. The application of the notion of impermanence, seeing the rise and fall of the emotion as it occurs, disarms you from the continuity of the unwholesome emotion. While I shall present a detailed study of anger, I shall then move to the profile of greed, the insatiable urge to acquire more and more: greed, more broadly described as ‘desire’, craving and the obsession it generates. It is as if there is a feeling of ‘lack’ which needs incessant filling. While anger as an emotion, calls from us patience, desire and greed call for restraint. When desires degenerate into greed and craving, they become toxic and get converted into unmitigated attachment. But most people in their busy routine lives are not aware of these emotions and one may say are incapable of noticing them. Once one develops detached observation of these states, or what I call mindful emotions, one becomes relaxed, composed and a quiet sense of joy enters one’s mind. In general, one becomes capable of watching the different states of the mind non-judgementally and non-reactively. It is at this stage that the practitioner of mindfulness has to be aware of subliminal anger (dosa-anusaya), subliminal greed (rāga-anusaya), and subliminal conceit (māna-anusaya). To cite an example, imagine a man walking through a forest on a quiet evening. Suddenly he tramples on a bundle of dry twigs and is about to run. He experiences the fight or flight response and wants to run, thinking that the noise the twigs are making is a rattlesnake. In such a circumstance, the central nervous system has been hijacked by the amygdala, and impulsive action follows. Under normal circumstances, the message would have been processed by the central nervous system. Such tendencies to fear or anger may lie at a subliminal or dormant level and are described by the Pali term (anusaya-bhūmi) which may lie dormant, may emerge as thought processes (pariyuṭṭhāna-bhūmi) or become fierce and ungovernable (vītikkama-bhūmi). Basically, greed, anger/fear and conceit may exist at a dormant level. The person who is well trained will act mindfully, is not caught up in the hijacking of the amygdala, will be calm, and will consciously make decisions. Or, if it is a situation of anger, will use non-judgemental resilience. Resilience and non-judgemental acceptance



help a mindful person to go through the exigencies of daily life. They will be able to anticipate that anger may arise before they get caught up in anger. These subliminal levels of anger, greed and conceit, clearly fortify the incongruity theory of humour, presented by Ñāṇavīra Thera—the little cracks in our consciousness that make us laugh. Sigmund Freud’s relief theory of humour also draws on the concept of the unconscious/subliminal. I shall discuss the alternative theories of humour in Chapter 9. This study presents an exploration of an important dimension of our emotional lives, the sense of humour, which is very rarely explored in the context of Buddhist perspectives of our emotional lives. I have taken pains to make an original contribution to this theme and have given it a central focus in this book, relating it to a whole group of emotions. Venerable Ñāṇavīra Thera, who was formerly a British philosopher known as Harold Musson, who arrived in Sri Lanka in 1949 with another celebrated monk Ñāṇamoli (Osbert Moore), makes one of the best serious comments on humour and Buddhism. In a richly ironic tone, he says that humour is no ‘laughing matter’ but is deeply related to our sense of anxiety: And now we can see why all the seemingly little contradictions at which we laugh (or weep) in our everyday life are really veiled threats, sources of danger. These are the little cracks and fissures in our complacent serious-minded existence, and the reason why we laugh at them is to keep them at a distance, to charm them, to exorcise them, to neutralise them.2

During the height of the development of Greek drama, Aristotle had the theory that people who went to see the plays found that their own tensions, concerns, and anxieties are dramatised on the stage and they returned home with a sense of catharsis. Ñāṇavīra is perhaps directing our attention in a more serious way from a Buddhist perspective into looking at the contradictions within the temporal and shaky foundations of our sense of self, which he says is the father of all particular contradictions in our lives. Thus, he says that when we laugh at a comedy or weep at a tragedy what we are really doing is busying ourselves repairing all the little crevices that have appeared in our familiar world in the course of the day or week, and if neglected become deeper. In a very profound analysis of humour, he says:



The tragi-comedy of the human (puthujjana’s) situation as apprehended by the authentic man in his lucid anxiety is the source of all tragedy and comedy on the purely everyday level. Whereas the inauthentic man laughs or weeps, without knowing why he does so—in other words irresponsibly. The authentic man, when he laughs at something (it will very often be the serious-minded man, who is both very comic and tragic) … He laughs (and weeps) with understanding and this gives his humour a depth and an ambiguity that escapes the inauthentic man.3

Ñāṇavīra says that Kierkegaard is also very rich in looking at the ironies and contradictions in life, what I have referred to as ‘social pathology’ earlier, but provides very different solutions from those offered by the Buddha. I shall refer to Kierkegaard’s contributions to the concept of ‘irony’ in the special chapter on the comedic and irony in his three stages of life, and the parallels in early Buddhism. This beautiful fourth stanza from the Dhammapada, ‘He himself is not his own’4 presents the essential contradiction according to Ñāṇavīra. ‘The fool who thinks he is a fool is at least a little wise but the fool who thinks he is wise is assuredly a fool’. Very little attention has been drawn towards the importance of humour in the practice of the Dharma, says the celebrated meditation guru, Joseph Goldstein: A sense of humour is indispensable in the practice of the Dharma, both on retreat and on the roller coaster of our life in the world. When we reflect for a moment on the quality of mind a sense of humour implies that we see that it creates some inner space. Being able to see the humour, the lightness, and the emptiness of the phenomena is really a great blessing during those times when we become caught in the various dramas of our lives.5

In fact, when we look at current pedagogy of conveying the Dharma to a Buddhist group, Ajahn Brahm, who is the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Perth, Australia has had great success in the use of humour for teaching the Dhamma. He was trained in the forest tradition in Thailand under Ajahn Cha who often acted like a Zen master when he was involved in delivering his fascinating pedagogy. Ajahn Brahm’s book, Opening the Door of Your Heart6 is a collection of some poignant, profound and funny stories. In my work as a counsellor, I found this collection of stories an effective guide for breaking through the heaviness of mind in some of the clients who had filled their lives with busyness,



distraction, and an endless pursuit of temporary pleasures for drowning out their boredom. I shall refer to a few of these stories in my long chapter on the role of humour in our lives as these stories are directed to specific emotions: the Mexican fisherman on greed; two bricks on guilt; and a whole collection of stories on anger, including the prisoner whose meditation was disturbed by the prison guard. One of my clients who was stubborn, and insisted that anger was not dominating his mind, gradually began smiling at discovering his own anger. After going home and then returning for therapy, he insisted that his wife had changed and was very responsive but I told him that his wife had changed because he had changed, and he was all smiles. Humour has a powerful therapeutic potential especially when one handles anger in the client. It leads to self-disclosure. In this context, my client, for the first time, was genuine, sincere, and relaxed and without any cover up. A touch of humour is a great blessing with some clients. Most noteworthy, recent contribution to humour as satire and irony are the book and also the television documentary, Status Anxiety, by Alain de Botton: Rather than mocking us for our concern with status, the kindest comics tease us: they criticise us while we remain essentially acceptable. Thanks to their skills, we acknowledge with an open-hearted laugh bitter truths about ourselves that we might have recoiled from in anger or hurt had they been levelled at us in an ordinary accusatory way.7

Alain de Botton’s television documentary is on satire, the serious side of humour. His book and television documentary attempt to break through many pretensions people have that are fed by the emotion of conceit; a superiority or an inferiority complex (māna-anusaya); and often through anger as envy at the success of others (paṭigha-anusaya). In fact, de Botton’s study of people reminds us of William James’s great insight into human psychology: ‘To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified. There is a strange lightness in the heart when one’s nothingness in a particular area is accepted …’.8 De Botton’s study presents a pathway for dealing with anxiety disorders and for looking at anxiety as a part of the general run of life. It may, if healthy, be a spur to activity, to be mindful and alert to challenging situations. But if anxiety takes a severe form it can be debilitating. Thus, though the television documentary is presented with a strong



element of humour, it has a serious and profound message as he deals with what may be described as social anxiety. I shall expand this reference to humour and anxiety in the section on humour and emotions. I shall conclude this analysis of humour by describing what is called the resonance theory of humour, which is one among a few other alternative theories regarding the usefulness of laughter in a group. This theory offers a positive picture of laughter and smiling: Of all emotional signals, smiles are the most contagious; they have an almost irresistible power to make others smile in return. Smiles may be so potent because of the beneficial role they played in evolution; smiles and laughter, scientists speculate, evolved as a non-verbal way to cement alliances, and signify that an individual is relaxed rather than guarded or hostile.9

To sum up the random harvest of this study—while presenting a close study of our sense of humour—it will directly refer to anger, greed and conceit as related to the power of humour to deal with anger, greed and conceit. The Buddha considered greed, hatred and the illusion of the self as the root of all defilements. I have already briefly illustrated how human greed gets related to status anxiety. Anger too, as in envy and jealousy, is related to status anxiety and the very clear base of different forms of conceit, both superior and inferior are also related to status anxiety. The illusion of the self is a very broad concept and I have taken the liberty of focusing on conceit, as certain forms of conceit remain till the final stages of liberation in Buddhism. So, I will write separate chapters on anger, greed, and conceit. For instance, Velleda C. Ceccoli says, in an article on the power of laughter and humour: ‘It is almost as if fear, tension, and shame dissolve, and then we are two people laughing within human conflict, playing with possibilities together, and experiencing emotions and meaning differently. So this post about humour and laughter, and their ability to disrupt negative states of mind and open potential space’.10 Current research on laughter and humour tells us that they are separate things neurologically speaking—related but not synonymous. Humour is a cognitively driven process that may or may not lead to laughter a seizure like activity that can come about through humour but also something like tickling. What they do share is the ability to disrupt negative states of mind, at a neuro-biological level.11



In fact, laughter involves a highly complex neural system. Robert Solomon says that it is a bonding gesture expressing love, affection, camaraderie, and solidarity.12 Some consider humour as a therapy for fear and anxiety. I shall work through anger, greed, and conceit to see how a sense of humour has a positive role in managing emotions. To close this chapter, I shall give a few pithy examples of the Buddha’s sense of humour? Here are a few examples. One of the refined ways of displaying humour is to juxtapose two connected but incongruous things, something that the Buddha did with a smile. He said once, that having good intentions but wrong practice will no more lead to nirvana than pulling a cow’s horn will give milk.13 In the Dhammapada, the Buddha says that a fool does not benefit from his association with wise men any more than a spoon tastes the soup.14 But there is no bitter taste in these contexts as ultimately it is through compassion that the Buddha preached. The chapter on humour will explore this theme again and will include a section on humour in the Zen Buddhist tradition as humour was a skilful ingredient in its pedagogy. To give an example of the humour of Zen masters. A warrior wanted to meet a Zen master to learn about heaven and hell. The Zen master guessed that this warrior had a strong sense of his ego and thought of testing his patience by annoying him. The master deliberately said: ‘you are an idiot, how can you grasp what is heaven and hell?’ The warrior was furious and exclaimed, ‘I will kill you’ to which the Zen master had the real punch line and said, ‘that is hell’. Then the warrior felt ashamed and apologised at which the Zen master said, ‘that is heaven’. Such examples indicate what is referred to as ‘upāya’, a technique to bring sanity to the warrior’s mind. Here is another example of the ‘upāya’ method. A very learned man who had an exaggerated view of himself came to see a Zen master. The master brought out a jug of tea and a cup and asked the visitor to pour the tea into the cup. As the tea was flowing into the cup, it began to overflow and the master said, ‘now stop, your head is also overflowing with an excess of ideas, an empty mind is the best’. Zen masters used riddles and koans, paradoxes, and irony as part of their pedagogy. They used two very important methods. These are called ‘collapsing categories’ and ‘unifying opposites’. I will discuss them in detail, in the chapter on humour. I will also discuss the ‘transmutation of emotions’ in Rinzai Zen and shall explore the philosophical background to Rinzai Zen.



In this chapter, I have looked at greed, anger (hatred), and the illusion of self-identity at the level of the psychology of mindful emotions. I have also looked at those vices through humour and satire. But, there is an ethical strand of Buddhism that is relevant to this study. The Buddha makes an important difference between the ethical categories of good and bad. The first is related to meritorious and un-meritorious activity (puñña and pāpa). In this category, people do good deeds like giving alms to the monks, sharing their wealth for social work etc., with the intention of getting a good birth after death. The second category is skillful and unskillful actions (kusala and akusala) where the aim is to free oneself from the recurring series of births in samsara. In this context, the focus is on greed, hatred/anger, and the illusion of self-identity, so that one is trying to shorten one’s journey rather than yearning for a longer stay on earth. Thus, our focus on mindful emotions and emotions in humour, falls into line with the second ethical category of skillful and unskillful activity, though in the case of humour, there is no self-conscious journey. Thus greed, anger, and issues of self-identity are central to the present book.


1. Ruchira Jayatunga (2012). Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers, p. 188. 2. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, p. 61. 3. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal, p. 63. 4. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. 5. Joseph Goldstein (1994). Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambala, p. 163. 6.  Ajan Brahm (2008). Opening the Door of Your Heart. Sydney, NSW: Hachette. 7.  Alain de Botton (2004). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton, p. 181. 8. William James (2005). In Daniel Nettle, The Science Behind Your Smile. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 159. 9.  Daniel Goleman et al. (2002). Primal Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, p. 10. 10. Velleda C. Ceccoli (2014). ‘On Laughter and the Power of Humour’,, January 20. 11. Velleda C. Ceccoli (2014). ‘On Laughter and the Power of Humour’. 12. Robert Solomon (2007). True to Our Feelings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 83.



13. M III, 141. 14.  Dhammapada 64.

References Brahm, A. (2008). Opening the Door of Your Heart. Sydney, NSW: Hachette. Ceccoli, V. C. (2014, January 20). On Laughter and the Power of Humour. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. Dhammapada. Goldstein, J. (1994). Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambala. Goleman, D., et al. (2002). Primal Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. James, W. (2005). In D. Nettle, The Science Behind Your Smile. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jayatunga, R. (2012). Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.


The Emotion of Anger

Abstract  Anger has a clear facial expression, and the normal physiological correlates are increased heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline and non-adrenaline. There is also manifest body language and if not controlled may take an aggressive turn. My meditation guru emphasises the point that anger calls for a greater deal of mindful observation as often it is invisible where as greed is more visible. Also anger may exist as a subliminal state (anusaya), a quality it shares with greed/sensuality and conceit. Another point about anger is that it can emerge as ‘moral anger’ described by Aristotle as righteous indignation which may be counter-productive on the side of violence than justice. Anger is very volatile and enters in a disguised form into the hindrances in a meditation setting: desire, aversion, lethargy, agitation and even sceptical doubt regarding what you do not like. It is greatly mixed up with envy, jealousy, and sadism. It has a great deal of both moral and clinical significance and good humour is a great resource for the anger of self-blame. Keywords  Anger

· Seven deadly sins · Envy

Anger has a clear facial expression. The normal physiological correlates are increased heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline and non-adrenaline. It also manifests in body language and if not controlled, the potential for aggressive behaviour is present. © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




My meditation guru says that the psychology of anger calls for a great deal of mindful observation as generally greed is visible but often anger is invisible. The Parābhava Sutta mentions seven forms of anger. Mindful practice would facilitate a person to see initial states as annoyance, which builds into anger, and that certain forms of anger have a moral component as in righteous indignation. Why anger is often invisible is that it exists at the subliminal level, as a sleeping passion. A very important reason for understanding the dynamic quality of anger is that it becomes converted into envy as in status anxiety. It may also convert sadness into depression and it can be present in a blended emotion with an ambivalence of love and hate. Anger may also feed the emotion of boredom or ‘ennui’. In the context of status anxiety discussed earlier, the silent presence of envy is important as it has an alliance with anger. Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all. Sloth may not seem much fun, not anger either, but giving way to deep laziness has its pleasures and the expression of anger entails a release that is not without its small delights. In recompense, envy may be the subtlest—perhaps I should say the most insidious—of the seven deadly sins.1

An interesting point made by Epstein is that lust and anger are warmhearted, while pride, greed, sloth and envy are cold-blooded and envy is the cruellest. The point about greed is important as often it does not stand out and even looks natural but yet it is the basis of the acquisitive instinct and is the subject of the next chapter. What is called emulative envy is often feeling the need, for example, to imitate the house design of someone whom one admires. Anyone interested in appreciating a good satirical comedy, like the documentary of De Botton which was adapted from his book, Status Anxiety,2 needs to notice all these diverse shades of human emotions. In a good comedy, the writer needs to distance himself in a mood of quiet humour from these different shades of the movement of emotions. Good comedy also is capable of bringing out the shifting grounds of envy and jealousy. As we live in a competitive world, jealousy is an emotion that spreads and is often an ally of anger but occasionally involves a sense of having a right claim for someone you love. A person with balance and good humour has the potential to disarm feelings of jealousy.



Anger Management Jayatunga in her teachings of mindfully managing anger makes a very useful analysis: Detached watching of anger in routine events; Watching the fault finding nature of the mind; Mindfully pointing out the mistakes of others; Overcoming deeply rooted anger with mindfulness; Dealing with hatred at communal level. Seeing the ownerless nature of anger; Going beyond good and bad; Significance of developing divine abodes; Developing forgiveness and patience; Apologising; Making a team effort; Accommodating criticism; Recollection of death; Contemplating the reality of the body.3

What is important is the non-judgemental and non-reactive stance we need to take in a situation that normally causes anger. Basically, the pre-frontal cortex plays a prominent role in developing non-reactivity: the regulation of the body system, balancing emotions, attuning to others, modulating fear, responding flexibly, and exhibiting insight and empathy.4 Paul Ekman says, ‘When we are in the grip of an emotion like anger, a cascade of changes occurs in split seconds without our choice of immediate awareness, in the emotional signals on the face and voice; present actions, learned actions, the autonomous nervous system that regulates the body, regulatory patterns that continually modify our behavior … These changes are involuntary and we do not chose them’.5 But if we can make a choice and become conscious of what we feel, he says that is close to what the Buddhist calls mindfulness.

Envy Looking at envy as a blend of anger and jealousy, often taking an insidious form, De Botton says that the more people we take to be our equals and compare ourselves to, the more there will be envy. In fact, in a very fine note on humour he quotes David Hume on envy: It is not a great disproportion between ourselves and others which produces envy, but on the contrary, a proximity. A common soldier bears no envy for his general compared to what he will feel for his sergeant or corporal.6



To be mindful of the disguised anger that enters into insidious envy calls for a very sophisticated form of mindfulness and thus through mindfulness one may become aware of anger-related emotions. When the Buddha describes the roots of a defiled mind as greed, hatred and delusion, he was indirectly saying that there are anger-related emotions. A good satire such as that of De Botton is able to expose these ramifications of negative emotions, including the subtle difference between envy and jealousy being aware of the fact that even Buddha had only one word, issā, for both envy and jealousy. Jealousy is over what one possesses and fears to lose, while envy may be over something one never possessed. It is also person-directed rather than object-directed. Also, as mentioned earlier, there is a component of anger in depression which is different from sadness. There is also a component of anger in lethargy, boredom, and agitation. Branded as one of the seven deadly sins, envy is a powerful force in a consumer culture. Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein have presented interesting observations about the development of envy from childhood to personhood. The English poet of the Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer, says that envy is full of sorrow in another man’s goodness and prosperity, but joyous in another man’s misfortune.7 Greed, avarice, lust, and pride in spite of their negative features have a clear object of desire, a wish for something, but envy lacks any positive object. But there may be something positive in ‘emulative envy’, which is described as pangs of admiration that make an individual aware of his or her shortcomings, and it leads to emulation, as when one says, ‘I envy your good qualities’.

Notes 1. Joseph Epstein (2003). Envy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 1. 2. Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. A two-hour documentary film also called Status Anxiety and written by Alain de Botton, was released in 2004. A version of it was shown in 2008 on Public Broadcasting Service channels like Boston’s WGBH-TV’s digital channel. 3. Ruchira Jayatunga. Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers, p. xxix. 4. Daniel J. Siegel (2007). The Mindful Brain. New York: Norton. 5.  Paul Ekman (2003). Emotions Revealed. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.



6.  David Hume (1738: 1986). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: Penguin Books. 7. Geoffrey Chaucer (1988). Canterbury Tales. London: Dent.

References Chaucer, G. (1476: 1958). Canterbury Tales. London: Dent. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. Ekman, P. (2003). Emotions Revealed. New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Epstein, J. (2003). Envy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hume, D. (1738: 1986). A Treatise of Human Nature. London: Penguin Books. Jayatunga, R. (2014). Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers. Siegel, D. (2007). The Mindful Brain. New York: Norton.


Greed, the Acquisitive Drive, and Sensuality

Abstract  Greed is one of the seven deadly sins in Christianity and has a wide ranging vocabulary: acquisitiveness, covetousness, cupidity, and entanglement while the quiet and sombre virtues are humility, charity, and veracity. The entanglement that the Buddhist describes as clinging (upadana) is something that happens according to the nature of laws that govern us, the psychological, moral, and the laws of the Dhamma that governs us. Imagine a boy making a beautiful sandcastle and he is so thrilled, he adds layer by layer and at a certain point it collapses. During the financial crisis people were fooled by their assumed omnipotence ‘building sand castles’ and the Buddha says respect the lawful nature of things. Ajahn Brahm’s beautiful parable which I have quoted is a satire on the limits of human greed. Keywords  Greed

· Sensuality · Cognitive therapy

In a Western study of the seven deadly sins, greed is described as: Ever true to its own acquisitive nature, greed has functioned under a multiplicity of aliases ranging from ‘acquisitiveness’ itself to ‘covetousness’, ‘avidity’, ‘cupidity’, ‘avarice’ and on to some of its more particularized metonyms like ‘miserliness’ or of course ‘simony’, the most recently coined of the lot.1

© The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




In the same study, the following reference to Buddhism is found: Humility, charity and veracity is found within the Asian faiths, where they are taught as tools necessary to ward off or overcome sins, which are regarded as ‘obstacles’, so to speak, to the exercise of virtue. The Buddha, for instance, identified greed, hatred and delusion as impediments to right living, naming them as ‘three poisons’ rather than as created agencies.2

It is enlightening to read through some of the books in the series on the seven deadly sins3 and especially Tickle’s above-mentioned volume on greed, which he describes as grasping, avarice, covetousness, and miserliness. Further, it was stimulating to look at both the similarities and differences to the defiling emotions in Buddhism. In fact, greed, pride, envy, sloth, gluttony, lust, and anger as described under the seven deadly sins, figure as negative emotions in Buddhism, though the ethics, psychology, and the metaphysics have certain differences. The psychology and the ethics of the Buddhist theory of motivation that follows would emphasise some of the features special to Buddhism, which also makes it possible to embrace a profound and deep sense of humour. I have written at depth on Buddhist psychology and counselling for interested readers but this analysis covers only the relevant insights.4

Mindfulness of Greed According to the fourfold analysis of the body, feelings, thoughts and the lawful nature of things provide a basis for the satipaṭṭhāna. Our central concern is to focus on mindfulness towards the conative and emotional dimensions of our lives. The first three among the states of mind mentioned in the satipaṭṭhāna instruction are lust (rāga), anger (dosa), and delusion (moha). Each of these roots together with their opposites, absence of lust, anger and delusion cover the conative and emotional facets of our lives. These roots implicate a wider range of emotions. The presence of anger would imply states beyond the minor forms of aversion and irritation but the presence of anger feeds depression, boredom and envy as discussed in Chapter 2. These can be counteracted positively by states overflowing with compassion and loving kindness. ‘During meditation, each of these three unwholesome roots can manifest in a distinctive manner: the fever of lust may be compared to being on fire within, the physical tension of anger to being overpowered and controlled



by a forceful opponent, and the confusion of delusion to being hopelessly entangled in a net’.5 It must be emphasised, as mentioned also in Chapter 2, contemplation of the mind does not involve active measures to oppose unwholesome states like lust and anger but one must be receptively aware of the states of mind without reaction, or one must use what is described as ‘non-judgmental observation’. Thus we do not oppose, repress, or use deception to cover up. Basically, as people are obsessed with their self-importance, self-deception is a natural ally of the fear of maintaining one’s self-esteem. As I have mentioned earlier, subliminal lust and anger erupts when one is not mindful of the passing emotional states in the mind. As Venerable Ñāṇavīra says in Chapter 1, there are little crevices and cracks in our life which we do not wish to reveal except occasionally through the medium of humour or comedy: Maintaining non-reactive awareness in this way counters the impulse towards either reaction or suppression contained in unwholesome states of mind, and thereby deactivates their emotional and attentive pull.6

Buddhism and Cognitive Therapy Thought patterns help us to differentiate between different emotions, and focus on the repeated occurrence of unwholesome thoughts and the volitional dispositions that produced them. Buddhist analysis focuses on lustful thoughts (raga), angry thoughts (dosa), deluded thoughts (moha) and distracted thoughts (vikkhitta). The celebrated Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta presents a detailed breakdown of methods to deal with automatic thought patterns which is reminiscent of Beck’s cognitive therapy. According to Beck, our inner beliefs are dependent on our past experiences as maladaptive thoughts cause unwholesome emotions. At the level of roots, they are related to greed, hatred/anger and delusion. The Sutta enumerates five methods7: 1. Thought replacement, replacing a negative automatic thought by a positive/wholesome thought (kusala-vitakka) 2. Thought-scrutiny, scrutinising the negative aspects of the thoughts 3. Ignoring, paying no attention to them 4. Questioning the cause for these thoughts, the condition that gave rise to them and reflecting on them 5. Forcing by suppression.



It may be said that the Buddha presented a penetrating course on cognitive training which goes beyond Western cognitive therapy as it has strong ethical strands and is directed towards liberation. Ordinary experience is mixed with wrongly perceived notions of permanence, satisfaction, and substantiality. The presence of these unrealistic elements is nourished by unrealistic expectations, and thus there is frustration and incessant conflict. Beneficial cognitions should be directed towards the notion of impermanence and the unsatisfactory nature of things. What is important is that our cognitions and thought patterns go through systematic training and generate wholesome emotions.

Buddhist Radical Therapy While cognitive therapy is very effective and is a dominant trend in the current practice of therapy, I wish to mention that Buddhism offers at a deeper level what I describe as ‘radical therapy’ which may be effective when we deal with crisis in individual clients and very effective in the light of the focus of the present monograph on what De Botton describes as social pathology: We are tempted to believe that certain achievements and possessions will give us enduring satisfaction. We are invited to imagine ourselves scaling the steep cliff face of happiness in order to reach a wide, high plateau on which we will live the rest of our lives; we are not reminded that soon after gaining the summit, we will be called upon again into fresh lowlands of anxiety and desire.8

It is this vicious cycle of human greed and desires that the Buddha presented several centuries ago and is even more applicable today than during his own time and context. This radical Buddhist therapy and mindful emotions is a very tangible way of dealing with this condition with earnestness and methodical work. A sense of humour is one of the ways in which people may be exposed to the reality of this predicament.

The Nature of Contentment: The Story of the Mexican Fisherman With a touch of irony, Ajahn Brahm narrates the story of a simple fisherman who with a contented philosophy rejects any attempt to lure him into the unending spiral of greed. In a quiet Mexican fishing village, an American tourist who was also a professor of business in a US business



school was watching a local fisherman unloading his morning catch. The professor asked, ‘Why are you fishing early?’ ‘Since I have caught enough fish, senor’, replied the genial Mexican, ‘enough to feed my family and a little extra for myself, now I will have some lunch with my wife, and after a little siesta in the afternoon, I will play with my children. Then after dinner, I will go to the cantina, drink a little tequila and play some guitar with my friends’. The Mexican was saying that he gets all these comforts by catching fish for a while and then going home. The professor offered the fisherman a more attractive and grand plan to organise his work and life, which would eventually bring him immense wealth and comfort. If you stay at sea until late afternoon, you will easily catch twice as much as fish. You can sell the extra, save up the money, and in six months, maybe nine, you’ll be able to buy a better and bigger boat and hire some crew. Then you’ll be able to catch four times as much fish. Think of the extra money you make! In another year or two, you will have the capital to buy a second fishing boat and have another crew. If you follow this plan, in six or seven years you will be the proud owner of a large fishing net. Then you should shift your office to Mexico City or LA, and float your company on the stock market, making yourself the CEO and acquire a generous salary package with substantial share options. In a few more years—listen to this— you initiate a share buy-back scheme which will make you a multi-millionaire.

The fisherman having listened to this grand plan asked the professor, ‘But what will I do with so many millions of dollars?’ The professor replied that the fisherman could then retire for life. Then he could buy a picturesque fishing village and buy a small boat for fishing in the morning. He could also have lunch with his wife, have a siesta later, play with the children, and have a great time in the cantina, play the guitar, and drink tequila. The fisherman politely replied: ‘But senor professor, I do that already’. Ajahn Brahm says that the point of the story is that we think we must get rich first and then we will find contentment.

Sensuality and Boredom The Buddha examined the threefold expression of human behaviour in terms of the craving for sensuous pleasure (kāma-taṇhā); for egoistic pursuits (bhava-taṇhā); and the craving for aggression and self-destruction (bhava-taṇhā). In the way that incessant desires and the unending



pursuit of greed causes frustration, strong sensuous pleasures in an unending flow cause boredom. Søren Kierkegaard’s depiction of sensuality and boredom offers a good parallel to the Buddha’s depiction of the way of sensuality (kāmasukhallikānuyoga) and the inevitable crisis in boredom and emptiness. As Kierkegaard’s presentation is often presented with a sense of irony and deep humour, it belongs to that category of tragi-comedy so elegantly presented by Ñāṇavīra Thera. Kierkegaard has a penetrating tract on ‘irony’. And, he presents different profiles of his characters through a novel, Either/Or.9 Man relishes the delights of sensuality and holds onto them with a strong tenacity. The pleasure drive renews itself by searching for new and variegated forms of pleasure. Boredom breaks in one direction, yet in another direction: the pleasure lover searches for novel pleasures. There is an endless process. Though the pleasure lover may get engrossed in commonplace and ordinary pleasures, it is the enigmatic, the surprising and the secretive kind of pleasure that can keep him fully absorbed.10 Like Alain de Botton’s comedic satire, Kierkegaard’s novel has a deep sense of irony, exposing the contradictions of the pleasure lover immersed in the aesthetic life as different from the ethical and religious. In the last stage, the pleasure of life passes from boredom to melancholy. This is dramatised in the life of Nero who went through every conceivable pleasure and was finally depraved by melancholy but did not have the means of generating a metamorphosis. In the final stage, an aesthete’s life breaks up in despair. The dialectic of human desires moves a person into power, fame, wealth, social position, and an inability to relinquish what one has and to hold on to these things with tenacity. As Jayatunga says: There is a ‘common mechanism’, which operates in every ordinary mind, that is, to always have a ‘feeling of lacking something’. Untrained people are not ‘content’ with what they have got, right at the moment.11

Greed and the Buddhist Concept of Entanglement (upādāna) In the ultimate analysis, greed has a strong fixation because of clinging (upādāna). To illustrate this point, I shall use two concrete ways of describing this predicament. I have already referred to this in two stories in another work.12 The first story is called, The Monkey and the Banana.



There is a banana inside an empty coconut shell with a very small opening. There is just sufficient space for the monkey to put his hand in but not enough room to take the hand out. The monkey suffers and eventually discovers that if he takes his hand out of the coconut shell without taking the banana, the suffering comes to end. A more powerful story, in the context of the current financial crisis, is the Story of the Sand-Castle. A child is making a beautiful sandcastle and gradually increases its height. The beauty increases with each layer. One more layer … one more layer … There is the danger of an imminent collapse and then it collapses! In modern times, the financial crisis was built by the sandcastles of people nourished by unregulated bank loans. After a time, they had an imminent warning but they were lulled by a sense of omnipotence till the whole project collapsed. It was not an individual but a social calamity. Greed when nourished by an entanglement is suicidal.


1. Phyllis A. Tickle (2004). Greed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 14. 2. Phyllis A. Tickle (2004). Greed, p. 10. 3. Phyllis A. Tickle et al. (2004). The Seven Deadly Sins (Set: Consisting of) Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Lust, Sloth, Anger, and Pride. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 4. Padmasiri de Silva (2014). An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 5. Anālayo (2010). Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications, p. 177. 6. Anālayo (2010). Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization, p. 175. 7.  For a useful presentation of this sermon, see Sajal Barua (2010). Vitakkasaṇṭhānasutta: ‘A Buddhist Way of Overcoming Automatic Thoughts’. Global Recovery Conference Volume, pp. 673–683, Thailand; Anālayo (2010). Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization, pp. 175–176. 8. Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton 9. Søren Kierkegaard (1843: 1992). Either/Or. London: Penguin Classics. 10. Padmasiri de Silva (2007). ‘The Critique of Pleasure in Søren Kierkegaard and the Buddha’, in Explorers of Inner Space. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha, pp. 84–109. 11. Jayatunga (2014). Buddhism and Psychology. Sri Lanka: AHAS, p. 191. 12. Padmasiri de Silva (2017). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.



References Anālayo. (2010). Satipaṭṭhāna: The Direct Path to Realization. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications. Barua, S. (2010). ‘Vitakkasaṇṭhāna Sutta’. Global Recovery Conference Volume. Thailand. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. de Silva, P. (2007). The Critique of Pleasure in Søren Kierkegaard and the Buddha. In Explorers of Inner Space. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha. de Silva, P. (2014). An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Jayatunge, R. M. (2008). Buddhism and Psychology. Sri Lanka: AHAS Publications. Kierkegaard, S. (1843: 1992). Either/Or. London: Penguin Classics.


Buddhist Perspectives on Contemporary Social Pathology

Abstract  Works like De Botton’s Status Anxiety present a larger societal view of the current identity crisis. Extended facets of our lives are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals laid down by our society and we may as a result be stripped of our identity. Our position in the ladder depends on what others make us to be. Now, this predicament creates the fissures and the broken pieces of our lives, and if we can convert this knowledge into accepting bitter truths about ourselves through stories, drama, and plays—with good humour, this humility, veracity, and mindful understanding of our emotions is the pathway to realise the best human qualities within us. Good comedy is capable of bringing out the shifting grounds of jealousy, envy, and conceit. One may call it a kind of radical therapy. Keywords  Social pathology

· Anxiety · Alienation · Identity crisis

Changing Horizions in the Field of Psychotherapy Rollo May, discussing a significant shift in problem areas in the field of psychopathology, observes that at the beginning of the twentieth century, the most significant question was a ‘person’s difficulty in accepting the instinctual and especially the sexual side of life’.1 It was also the problem that dominated Freud’s mind. With Rank and Adler, there was a shift of interest to the problem of inferiority guilt and inadequacy. © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




For neo-Freudians like Horney, the dominant theme became the conflict between individuals and the group while today the focal issues are anxiety, loneliness and emptiness. May says that the feeling of emptiness is not limited to the consulting room but sociological data confirms that it is present at a broader level in society. In more recent times, Erickson has focused our attention on the identity crisis. Alain de Botton’s critique of identity issues in Status Anxiety, first published in 2004, is of even greater relevance today.2 He says that high status is sought by many but admitted to by only a few. Today, the job environment is dominated by the flow of redundancies, promotions, retirements, and recession. People who think realistically will not throw away money on empty symbols of status and ruin their lives. Currently, the identity crisis has taken a more radical turn since the writings of Erickson. De Botton feels that the hunger for all appetites may have uses in generating new talent, encouraging excellence and cementing society on a realistic value system but like many appetites if nourished by envy it can metaphorically kill a person. Thus, in this monograph I have specially developed a focus on envy and anxiety.

The Faceless Person in a Changing World Two large labels which are being used to describe the uneasiness in the social world are ‘anxiety’ which emerges out of clinical data and ‘alienation’ as manifested in sociological writings. Today, forms of social pathology have been given a kind of technical coherence by Erickson’s concept of ‘identity crisis’. The concept of identity crisis is also the focus of De Botton’s status anxiety and relevant to ego-oriented emotions in Buddhism. The depersonalising tendencies of the social and economic scene are varied and many: the growth of automation and the division of labour has converted the worker into a slave of the machine so that work has become a boring and stultifying drudgery for him. The growth of gigantism in industry, ever-increasing bureaucratisation, and the development of routinised life are combined with periods of leisure that reduce people’s discontent with their work. People get used to forms of entertainment which dull their sensitivity to the lack of joy in their jobs. Furthermore, population convergence on cities and the amount of mobility add the further factor of rootlessness to the problem.



Erich Fromm on the Pathology of Normalcy Erich Fromm was greatly influenced by Buddhism. While appreciating the value of individual self-knowledge and self-illumination, he made the point that instead of considering ‘pathology’ as an individual deviation from a well-functioning society there has to be a focus on the question whether the social order itself is subject to a kind of social pathology. This is a deep and profound way of looking at the contemporary crisis which Fromm felt was the radical Buddhist perspective. Fromm focuses on the concept of alienation: a person estranged from his own self as the centre of living and source of his energy.3 People have become passive and complacent in a market-dominated economy. The disappearance of personalised identity induces acquiescence in the system, where deviation is considered as heresy. The Buddha presented the lawful nature of things (Dhamma-niyāma), laws of the mind (citta-niyāma), and laws of morality (kamma-niyāma). Psychological and moral distance from this lawful nature are basically features that lead to the collapse of the economic order, moral degeneration, and a suppressed discontent. Fromm’s normative humanism focused on what is considered an attentional crisis of boredom where the practice of mindful emotions as presented in Buddhism is the way towards mindful exertion of energy.

Contemporary Answers Contemporary answers to alienation, boredom and lethargy need to find answers to this attentional crisis through mindful emotion development. Today, a celebrated meditation teacher, Joseph Goldstein says: To realize that boredom does not come from the object of attention but rather from the quality of attention is truly a transforming insight. Fritz Perls, one of those who brought Gestalt therapy to America, said, ‘Boredom is the lack of attention’. Understanding this reality brings profound changes in our lives.4

Studies of boredom across cultures indicate the erosion of normative guidelines and a drying up of the vibrance that energises life. An interesting revival of mindful practice related to lifestyles and education has been the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.5 He worked with athletes,



musicians, mountain climbers and artists in developing what is described as ‘flow’ experiences. These are peak experiences with absence of self-control, relaxation, and freedom.

Notes 1. Rollo May (1950). The Meaning of Anxiety. New York: Norton. 2. Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. 3. Erich Fromm’s many works include: The Art of Being (1989), To Have or to Be (1976), The Art of Loving (1956) and The Art of Listening (1994, a Posthumous Publication). 4. Joseph Goldstein (1994). Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambala, p. 80. 5.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1979). Beyond Boredom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

References Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1979). Beyond Boredom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. Fromm, E. (1976). To Be or Not to Be. London: Abacus. Fromm, E. (1994). The Art of Listening. London: Constable. Goldstein, J. (1954). Insight Meditation. Boston: Shambala. May, R. (1950). The Meaning of Anxiety. New York: Norton. May, R. (1953). Man’s Search for Himself. New York: Norton.


The Buddha’s Techniques of Teaching and the Use of Parables and Similes

Abstract  This chapter focuses on a number of celebrated sermons, where the Buddha uses a very restrained sense of humour to those who follow the Dhamma in the wrong way and wrong purpose. The parable of the raft where in this context, the man, even after crossing the river carries the raft on the head. The purpose of the Dhamma is for living and practising it and not for beautification and display. In the parable of the poisoned arrow the Buddha criticises those who get entangled in unending metaphysical issues without getting straight to the liberation path. In the parable of the water-snake a man dies as he seizes the water-snake in the wrong way, like the man who seizes the Dhamma in the wrong way. A beautiful incident where the god Sakra confronts a demon calmly without excitement is a parable on anger management. The sermon on fear and dread refer to the obstacles encountered by monks going to the forest, though having their defilements intact. Keywords  Buddha

· Teaching techniques · Parables · Fear and dread

The Buddha used many parables and similes to communicate the Dhamma. At times, some of them had a touch of humour. He also engaged in debates.

© The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




The Foolish This is my child, this is my wealth; Such thoughts are the preoccupation Of fools If we are unable to own even ourselves, Why make such claims? The fool who knows he is a fool Is at least a little wise; the fool who thinks he is wise is assuredly a fool Like spoons unable to taste The flavour of the soup Are the fools who cannot see the truth. Even though they live all their lives among the wise Like the tongue that can appreciate The flavour of the soup Is the one who can discern clearly the truth After only a brief Association with the wise. (Dhammapada, verses 62–65)

The Parable of the Poisoned Arrow The inquisitive monk, Māluṅkyaputta, gets into his head, to solve once and for all, the riddle of indeterminate points. He approaches the Buddha and challenges him to give categorical answers to these points on the threat of leaving the order. He even makes bold to say that the Buddha should be honest enough to confess his ignorance. Here then, we have an open revolt in the ranks against the Buddha’s attitude. But it was not the Buddha who gave in.1

MāluṄyaputta Sutta There was an inquisitive monk, Māluṅkyaputta, who gets into his head that he can find an answer to speculative problems like the beginning and end of the world which are described as indeterminate questions. He challenges the Buddha. He says that if he were to live the holy life (as a monk) under the Buddha, the Buddha needs to answer him. The Buddha presents a parable which embodies a deep truth, which in this context has a tinge of humour. The Buddha cites the tragic instance of a man who is shot with a poisoned arrow, who refuses to allow the doctor to treat him, until he is told who shot the arrow, the nature of the bow



and arrow, where the man who shot him lives, etc. By the time the doctor had answered these questions the patient would be dead. Answering these speculative questions regarding the beginning and end of the world, without following the Four Noble Truths is like the man who is struck by this poisoned arrow. In the Aṭṭhakavagga of the Sutta Nipāta the Buddha criticises the dialectician who is engrossed in dialectics and logic, who does not have a focus on suffering and a true impetus to follow a spiritual endeavour, the way out of suffering.

The Parable of the Raft The Dhamma is to be practised and not learnt merely to display one’s scholarship and excel in debates and prove one’s superior knowledge. The Buddha says those who learn the Dhamma do not do so by revelling in their scholarship and debate. It is to be lived. Mastering the Dhamma and clinging to it may be described by the parable of the raft. A raft is made out of stray twigs and branches, growing on the banks of a river. One does not arrive at the opposite bank by merely building the raft, decorating it and boarding it. Having embarked for the beyond one has to exert oneself and gradually cross over with the aid of the raft. But, just by mastering the Dhamma and dogmatically clinging to it one does not reach the goal. If a person carries the raft on his head without making use of it, it is like the monk who embellishes the Dhamma and theorises and debates without practicing the message in the Dhamma. There were monks for whom the Dhamma was something decorative only, or a subject for debating and displaying their knowledge through conceit: It is precisely the danger that the Buddha warns against in the ‘Parable of the Raft’ in the Alagaddūmapama Sutta (M 134 ff). There, the Buddha declares in unmistakable terms that he is preaching the Dhamma which is comparable to a raft, just for the purpose of crossing (the sea of Saṃsara) and not grasping it dogmatically.2

The Parable of the Water-Snake The story of the man who wished to carry the raft on his head after crossing the river as in the parable of the raft, out of a naive sense of gratitude for the raft with its rather comic sense may be compared to the rather tragic story of the man who seized the snake by the tail:



Monks, it is like a man walking about, aiming for a water-snake, searching for a water-snake, looking about for a water-snake. He might see a large water-snake and he might take hold of it by a coil or by its tail. The water-snake, having rounded on him, might bite him on his hand or arm or another part of his body. Because of this he might come die or experience pain like unto dying. Monks, what is the reason for it? Even so, monks, do some foolish men here master the Dhamma, the discourses in prose … expositions of verses, uplifting verses … Having mastered that Dhamma, they do not test the meaning of these by intuitive wisdom …. They master this Dhamma simply for the advantage of reproaching others and for the advantage of gossiping, and they do not arrive at the goal for the sake of which they mastered the Dhamma … It is because of a wrong grasp of things.3

It is said that this sermon was for Ariṭṭha, who misrepresented the Buddha. According to Venerable Ñāṇānanda, Ariṭṭha was perhaps trying to short-circuit the process of learning without going through the ethical and psychological training one has to master before one embarks on metaphysical subtleties—over-shooting in dialectical excesses.4 This story coming down the ages has a modern touch. As expressed in the poem by Alexander Pope in 1709: ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring’. The sense of the tragic embodied in the snake bite is very profound compared to the touch of the comic in the man who carried the raft on his head.

A Demon Who Feeds on Anger Once, an ill-favoured, ugly looking demon (yakkha) came to be seated on the throne of Sakka, the ruler of gods. Then the gods (thirty-three of them) were annoyed, vexed and consumed with indignation at this very strange and unusual sight. In proportion to how much they became annoyed, vexed, and indignant, that demon grew ever handsomer and more presentable and more attractive. The gods were disturbed and reported the incident to their ruler, Sakka. Sakka said: ‘Will this, then dear sirs, be a demon who feeds on anger’. Then Sakka came up to the demon, and draping his robe over one shoulder, and kneeling on his right knee, bent his clasped hands towards him, and calling his name said: ‘I dear sir, am Sakka, the ruler of gods’. Now in proportion to how much Sakka did this, the demon became more and more ill-favoured and ugly, till he vanished from the place.



Sakka then addressed the gods pointing out that no kind of wrath finds an abiding place within him: ‘To harsh and angry words I give no breath, nor to my creed inconstant prove. But I restrain and hold myself in check, heedful of my spiritual growth’.5

Buddhist Perspectives on Fear and Dread The Bhayabherava Sutta contains a fascinating track on the distinction between ‘fear’ and ‘dread’ which need a deeper analysis than their surface appearance. It also adds a fresh dimension to the thinking of Ñāṇavīra Thera on fear and suppressed anxiety. Fear is centred on a particular object. It is specific and demonstrable. Dread is objectless, diffuse and vague. The notion of anxiety as diffuse apprehension is at the heart of existential thinking and psychoanalysis. While this fits in with Ñāṇavīra’s overall thesis regarding incongruity and humour, Kierkegaard has more to offer on fear and dread. Kierkegaard offers a penetrating insight: Just as the physician might say their lives perhaps not one single man who after all is not to some extent in despair, in whose inmost parts there does not dwell a disquietude, a perturbation, a discord, an anxious dread of an unknown something, or even something that he does not even dare to make acquaintance with, dread of a possibility of life, of dread of himself, so that after all, as physician speaks of a man going about with a disease in him, this man is going about and carrying a sickness of the spirit, which only rarely and glimpses by and a dread to him is inexplicable, gives evidence of its presence within.6

As the majority of men cling to security and contentment, there is a ‘half obscurity’ about their condition, as within the hidden and remote recesses of their happiness, there dwells an anxious despair. In fact, according to the ‘Discourse on Fear and Dread’, monks who have gone to the forest for a contemplative life, experience emotions of fear and dread. There is the possibility of being bitten by snakes, scorpions and centipedes or lions, tigers, bears, and leopards. Also fears about health and old age, and concerns about the availability of food emerge. If a monk who has gone to the forest has not mastered these unskillful states, even the breaking of twigs or the rustling of leaves may disturb him. Those monks who have gone to the forest and have mastered these



fears have put an end to anguish. The Buddha says that he frequents remote dwelling places in the forest, beholding the self, abiding in ease, and being compassionate to human beings. The Venerable Ñāṇavīra was himself brave enough to live in the forest but one of the obstructing factors he faced was a debilitating sickness caused by the food he had been given by compassionate villagers. Spicey food with chillis was also abhorrent to a Western palate. His death was perhaps caused by suicide—yet there was still the possibility of liberation. His work Notes on the Dhamma7 is a difficult book for a general reader to understand. But the publication, The Tragic, The Comic and the Personal (a posthumous publication)8 is very illuminating for developing a Buddhist perspective on humour, and I am indebted to him for his insights. Existentialism is a difficult philosophy to understand. When living in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, I presented existentialism to students in Sinhalese. My ability to understand some of Ñāṇavīra Thera’s writings is due to the training I received at the University of Hawaii under the late Professor Winfield Nagley. Furthermore, going through Kierkegaard’s novel Either/Or during one semester was unforgettable.9 Ñāṇavīra’s doctoral thesis, presented in Demark, was on Kierkegaard and irony. I did visit Bundala, the forest home of Ñāṇavīra’s deep immersion in the Dhamma, and with the assistance of a relation who was district magistrate, was able to visit Ñāṇavīra’s home. There was a student monk on the spot and I asked him whether he could sum up Ñāṇavīra’s understanding of the Dhamma and he said: ‘It is the basic ambiguity between the self and the world’. A Buddhist scholar who was greatly influenced by of Ñāṇavīra is Wettimuni, and his book is focused on ‘existential ambiguity’.10 This work by a young engineer, who died at the age of forty-nine, was a book that inspired me to explore more deeply the dialogue between Buddhism and existentialism.11


1. Ñāṇānanda Thera (1971). Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, p. 9. 2. Ñāṇānanda Thera (1971). Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, p. 37. 3. M 133. 4. Ñāṇānanda Thera (1971), p. 88.



5. Samyutta Nikaya (Kindred Sayings): Sakka Samyutta 22. 6.  Søren Kierkegaard (1849). Sickness unto Death. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. 7. Ñāṇavīra Thera. ‘Notes on the Dhamma’ (unpublished paper). 8. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. 9. Padmasiri de Silva (2007). Explorers of Inner Space. Ratmalana: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha. 10. R. G. de S. Wettimuni (1978). The Buddha’s Teaching and the Ambiguity of Existence. Colombo: Gunasena. 11. Padmasiri de Silva. (2007). Explorers of Inner Space.

References Alagaddūpama Sutta, M I Sutta 134. Bhayaberava Sutta, M I Sutta 4. de Silva, P. (2007). Explorers of Inner Space. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha. Kierkegaard, S. (1843: 1992). Either/Or. London: Penguin Classics. Kierkegaard, S. (1849: 1987). Sickness unto Death. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. Ñāṇānanda Thera (1971). Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Ñāṇānanda Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Wettimuni, R. G. de S. (1978). The Buddha’s Teaching and the Ambiguity of Existence. Colombo: Gunasena.


Conceit and Pride

Abstract  Spinoza says that a man is called proud if he thinks too little of other people and it is a joy that arises from the false opinion that we are superior to other people and despondency is due to the false opinion that we are inferior to other people. Buddhism considers this distinction important but would replace the term ‘proud’ with ‘conceit’ the Pali being ‘mana’, etymologically meaning measuring with others and also ‘waving a flag’. The Buddha placed ‘humility’ as a virtue within the community. Conceit as such is transcended in the higher reaches of the liberation path. But at the normal run of human conflicts, envy, and jealousy one needs to see the hidden crevices of conceit. In a playful and non-reactive context like a television drama of status anxiety, one could discover these traits in oneself with good humour. Keywords  Conceit

· Pride · Humility

It is necessary however, to observe here that a man is also called proud if he thinks too little of other people, and so, in this sense, pride is to be defined as joy which arises from the false opinion that we are superior to other people, while despondency, contrary to this pride, would be defined as sorrow arising from the false view that we are inferior to other people. This being so it is easy to see that the proud man is envious and that he

© The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




hates those above all others who are the most praised on account of their virtues … Although despondency is contrary to pride, the despondent man is closely akin to the proud man.1

Now, though Spinoza uses the term ‘pride’ to describe a pattern of ‘egocentricity’, as I have mentioned elsewhere, the term ‘conceit’ or superiority and inferiority covers what Spinoza means by ‘pride’. What is conceived as a negative emotion in Buddhism is conveyed by the Pali term māna. I shall consistently render this term as ‘conceit’ rather than the more popular word ‘pride’ which in English and cross-cultural usage has a more positive meaning. It is interesting to note that in my research project on emotion taxonomy for Sri Lanka, which I did for the East–West Center in Hawaii, the emotion cluster for pride was: pride (abhimāna), conceit (ahaṅkāra), arrogance (mahantatva), and inferiority complex (hīnamāna). Here, abhimāna is pride in the achievements of one’s country. In fact, Stuart Hampshire describes Spinoza’s analysis thus: ‘The passions and the negative emotions of men rest, intellectually, upon an error of egocentricity and of short-sightedness. One sees the universe as revolving around oneself and one’s own interest central to it’.2 True humility is greatly valued in Buddhism. Iris Murdoch, the novelist and philosopher, says: Humility is a rare virtue and an unfashionable one and one which is hard to discern. Only rarely does one meet somebody in whom it positively shines, in whom one apprehends with amazement the absence of the avaricious tentacle of the self … The humble man because he sees himself as nothing, can see other things as they are.3

The value of humility and the critique of conceit does not mean that people do not have to struggle to find a good job and work hard to improve their prospects, work for a promotion, plan to have their own house, and so on. A meditation teacher describes this context in her class thus: This does not mean that one does not have to toil for materialistic wealth and prosperity. The ‘actual motives’ of one’s actions should, however, be kept under constant vigilance, for the very reason that if the motives are entrapped in conceit, stress and agitation will be the inevitable



consequences … It is the self-examination of the internal process of the mind which should be developed. That should be done in an objective manner and also without self-reproach.4

At a deeper level, self-centred thinking and behaviour occur when one is entrapped in the illusory view of a permanent world. In fact Alain de Botton’s television documentary focuses on some of the intricate ways in which egocentric behaviour such as the desire to succeed in the social hierarchy, the amount of recognition and even love consequent on high status emerges. ‘The attention of others might be said to matter to us principally because we are affected by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value’.5 In general, there is an anxiety regarding our place in the world. Also satisfaction with ourselves does not require that we succeed in all our projects. Sometimes a failure may be a healthy spur to further plans and activity.

Conceit and Arrogance Among Competing Philosophers: The Kalahavivāda Sutta The Sutta Nipāta contains some of the most beautiful suttas and is considered by commentators as containing an early stratum of Buddhist thinking. In fact, the Kalahavivāda Sutta6 has always been one of my favourites. In a subdued ironic tone, the Buddha presents some questions: 1. Sir, whenever there are arguments and quarrels there are tears and anguish. Arrogance and pride and grudges and insults to go with them. Can you explain how these things come about? Where do they all come from? 2. ‘The tears and anguish that follow arguments and quarrels,’ said the Buddha, ‘the arrogance and pride and the grudges and insults that go with them are all the result of one thing. They come from having preferences, from holding things precious and dear. Insults are born out of arguments and grudges are inseparable from quarrels’. 3. But why, sir, do we have these preferences, these special things? Why do we have so much greed? And all the aspirations and achievements that we base our lives on, where do we get them from?



4. ‘The preferences, the precious things’ said the Buddha ‘come from the impulse of desire. So too does greed and so too do the aspirations and achievements that make up peoples’ lives’. 5. Where does this impulse of desire come from? Where do we derive our theories and opinions from and what about all the other things you have named? 6. The impulse of desire arises when people think of one thing as pleasant and another as unpleasant: that is the source of desire. It is when people see that material things are subject to both becoming and disintegration that they form their theories of the world. 7. Anger, confusion and dishonesty arise when things are set in pairs as opposites. The person with perplexity must train himself in the path of knowledge. The recluse has declared the Truth after realisation.

Clash of Viewpoints 1.  Some who abide strictly by their own views, come into dispute with others, each claiming that they themselves are the only experts. They declare thus: ‘one who understands this, knows the Truth; whoever rejects this is imperfect’. 2. So, having thus got into arguments, they dispute (among themselves). They say, ‘The other person is a fool not an expert’. Which is the true statement out of these? 3. The Buddha says: ‘If one does not tolerate another’s views one is a fool, is a dolt and is stupid. All of them are fools without understanding, because all of them abide by their (own) views only’. 4. One who thinks another a fool and calls himself an expert, insults himself and others. 5. One who is full of rigid and fixed views, and is puffed up with pride and arrogance, and who deems himself perfect, becomes anointed in his own opinion because he holds firmly to his views.

Notes 1. Benedict Spinoza (1963). Ethics. Ed. James Gutmann. New York: Hafner. 2.  Stuart Hampshire (1983). Morality and Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p. 150. 3. Iris Murdoch (1970). The Sovereignty of Good. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 45, 46.



4. Rucheera Jayatunga (2014). Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers, p. 332. 5. Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton, p. 15. 6. Sutta Nipāta. Kalahavivāda Sutta.

References de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. Hampshire, S. (1983). Morality and Conflict. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Jayatunga, R. (2014). Let’s Be Mindful. Ganemulla: Printwell Printers. Murdoch, I. (1970). The Sovereignty of Good. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Spinoza, B. (1963). Ethics (J. Gutmann, Ed.). New York: Hafner. Sutta Nipāta. Kalahavivāda Sutta.


The Deep Philosophy Within Zen Humour

Abstract  The more people succumb to dualistic thinking in confronting the polarities in life, the more they become entrapped in conflict. But if we are able to see these polarities as finding guideposts for finding a way through conflict—each element of them as an essential part of a larger truth, we can achieve meaningful intervention. There is a deeper ‘middle path’ open to each of us. This point about dualism and thinking through categories is seen in the deeper Zen humour. The Zen Master was surrounded by his followers and they wanted him to something deep and he said, ‘There is a river’. Then a younger follower asked further question and the Master said ‘All right there is no river’. This is collapsing of categories. There is also a philosopher who came to visit the Master and the Master had a pot of tea and a cup with a saucer and asked him to pour the tea but it was all overflowing, and the Master said your head is full of overflowing theories, be simple. There are more anecdotes in the present work, their humour was very deep. The tragic and the comic should not be converted into absolute categories. Keywords  Zen humour

· Union of opposites · Rinzai tradition

The more people succumb to dualistic thinking in response to these polarities, the more they become trapped in a conflict. And the more we as interveners buy into these dualities, the less effective we are in helping others to find a constructive way to move forward. However, if we’re able to © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




see these polarities as guideposts for finding a way through conflict—and that each element of them is an essential part of a larger truth that conflict presents—we can achieve profound and meaningful intervention. We can view these polarities collectively as the conflict paradox—the inevitable and defining contradictions that we face when deciding how to approach a conflictual interaction. In essence, the conflict paradox is about the intellectual and emotional maturity that we bring to conflict.1

One of the main functions of humour in Zen is in trying to allow one to understand the absurdity of attempting to classify reality into categories. Thus, the boundaries between logical issues are broken down. The unification of opposites as graphically described above, is common to Zen humour and Zen philosophy. Practising a Zen koan, we can easily understand that there is a deeper ‘middle path’ that opens up for each of us, to transform and transcend conflicts by finding a synergistic middle way. Today, in the area of psychotherapy Zen Buddhism has generated a new therapeutic system, dialectical behaviour therapy.2 As already mentioned, the term ‘dialectic’ implies at the most practical level that opposites are combined to create something new. On a deeper level, it recognises that reality and human behaviour are basically relational. According to Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT, firstly, dialectic implies the fundamental relatedness or wholeness of reality. Secondly, reality is seen in terms of opposing forces out of which a new synthesis emerges. Thirdly, the fundamental nature of reality is change and process, a Buddhist concept. In Tibetan Buddhism, for example, harnessing the Bodhi citta means that anger and love are held together and they enrich each other. We do not put protective walls of opposition, prejudices, and opinion further fortified by anger, craving, jealousy, envy, arrogance, it is a broken heart where compassion and anger mingle.3 While DBT uses mindfulness techniques like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, what differentiates it from others is the use of a dialectical method. Through examining conflicts and paradoxes it has worked with clients with suicidal impulses. The most celebrated example of the use of DBT is found in Kiera Van Gelder’s book, The Buddha and the Borderline.4 To understand the strength and relevance of Zen today, one has to go to DBT: Conflicts flow from life … Rather than seeing conflict as a threat, we can understand it as providing opportunities to grow and increase our understanding of ourselves, of others, of social structures. Conflicts in relationship at all levels are the ways of life which makes us stop, assess and take



notice. One way to truly know our humaneness is to recognise the gift of conflicts in our lives. Without it life would be a monotonously flat topography of sameness and our relationships would be woefully superficial.5

When we look at Zen humour, a central feature is the collapsing of standard categories and the uniting of opposites: Zen uses of humour share their comic inclination to move towards reducing tension, overcoming conflicts, and including opposite sites in a larger unity. In doing so, Zen reflects both the traditional Indian Buddhist critique of dualism and the Chinese vision of a harmony of opposites, as in the yang/yin cosmology.6

Emotions in the Rinzai Zen Tradition ‘Nietzche would concur with many figures in the Buddhist tradition concerning the drawbacks of the ego-centered emotions: they tend to “bind” us drastically narrowing our perspectives and obscuring our view of things, to carry us away in sometimes dangerous ways, so that we risk inflicting damage on ourselves or others—and in general they can move us to inappropriate behaviour, making us later regret what we have said or done’.7 Apart from Zen focus on dialectic, the Rinzai Zen tradition has a strong focus on the emotions. Graham Parkes in making a study of the transmutation of emotions in Zen and the philosopher Nietzsche, focuses on the role of emotions in realising one’s true nature. Zen was critical of the separation of the affective side as found in certain forms of rationalism in the West8: What the Zen and Nietzschean tradition have in common is an appreciation of the vital powers of the emotions and a refusal to let that power be lost through the reduction or extirpation of affect. There is a shared sense that the emotions constitute motive forces that can be channelled to effect a breakthrough in our normal ways of being in the world. The major difference may lie in Nietzsche’s apparently greater concern with the cognitive powers of the emotions, with the emotions as movements of the psyche through which one comes to know things. More so than the Zen thinkers, he sees the emotions as a way of penetrating matters and opening them up, as arrows that pierce to the heart of things and thereby bring our hearts closer to them.9



In the final analysis, Rinzai Zen opens up a free play for emotions. Compared with the sober and restrained pace in which mindful emotions are presented in early Buddhism, Rinzai Zen is an appreciation of the vital powers of the emotions and a refusal to let that power be lost through the reduction or extirpation of affect. The early Buddhist way with regard to emotions, which we have presented in earlier chapters, together with emotions in the Rinzai tradition, supplement each other and together present a viable critique of ego-oriented emotions.

Notes 1. Bernard Mayer (2015). The Conflict Paradox. San Francisco: Wiley, p. 3. 2. Marsha M. Linehan (1993). Cognitive-Behaviour Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guildford. 3. Padmasiri de Silva (2017). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 78. 4.  Kiera Van Gelder (2010). The Buddha and the Borderline: A Memoir. Oakland: NewHarbinger. 5. Jon Paul Lederach (2009). Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. 6. C. Hyers (1989). ‘Humour in Zen: Comic Midwifery’, Philosophy East and West, vol. 39, no. 3, July, p. 12. 7. Graham Parkes (1990). ‘The Transmutation of Emotion in Rinzai Zen and Nietzsche’, The Eastern Buddhist, vol. XXII, no. 1, Spring, p. 12. 8. Graham Parkes (1990). ‘The Transmutation of Emotion in Rinzai Zen and Nietzsche’, p. 124. 9. Graham Parkes (1990). ‘The Transmutation of Emotion in Rinzai Zen and Nietzsche’, p. 124.

References de Silva, P. (2017). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Hyers, C. (1989). Humour in Zen: Comic Midwifery. Philosophy East and West, 39(3), 267–277 Lederach, J. P. (1998). Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-Behaviour Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guildford.



Mayer, B. (2015). The Conflict Paradox. San Francisco: Wiley. Parkes, G. (1990). The Transmutation of Emotion in Rinzai Zen and Nietzsche. The Eastern Buddhist, XXII(1), 10–25. Van Gelder, K. (2010). The Buddha and the Borderline: A Memoir. Oakland: NewHarbinger.


The ‘Comic’ in Kierkegaard’s Three Stages of Life and Their Parallels in Buddhism

Abstract  What is called the aesthetic stage in Kierkegaard’s three stages of life cracks up due to its inner incoherence, the other stages being the ethical and the religious. As the Buddha also points out, a life dominated by sensuality without any ethics is deemed to generate inner incoherence and boredom as however attractive you try to make without ethics and marriage, you ultimately face a brick wall. Kierkegaard’s graphic description of different characters, how with a sense of irony they are presented is a blend of the comic and the tragic. Kierkegaard is also associated with the theory of humour described as ‘incongruity’ and he is well-known for his study of irony. He writes under pseudonames and thus has the freedom to generate the pleasure lover and the crisis within and the erosion of ethics in a graphic manner. Keywords  Kierkegaard

· Boredom · Aesthetic · Ethical

The Aesthetic Stage in Kierkegaard and Buddhism Kierkegaard used the philosophical novel Either/Or1 to present his central theme. In particular, through different personalities, without directly expressing his personal views, he virtually spoke through a pseudon­ ymous authorship. This helped to convey the use of irony, and graphic presentation of characters who were immersed in sensuality, egotism, and flight from boredom. Some consider this attempt as an ironic presentation © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




of German Romanticism. This technique helped to present in a very theatrical medium: such matters as the seducer’s diary, boredom personified in Nero, and so on. There was a kind of twist in that the seducer is more concerned with the possibility of seduction than actual seduction. In the banquet scene with the axiom ‘in vino veritas’ (truth uttered only under the influence of wine), one gets the impression of being in a theatre. There is a deep sense of irony running through this dialectical progression through the aesthetic, ethical and religious stages. It is lively, comedic and also ironic. The ethical state is described in terms of marriage and commitment and moreover is based on social commitments. In the progression of Hegelian dialectic, one could reach a new synthesis. Getting the best out of the aesthetic and ethical stages has its own problems compared with the religious. Every man, however lowly his talents are, however, subordinate his position in life, naturally feels the need to form a life view, a conception of life’s significance and its purpose. The man who lives aesthetically does that too, and the universal expression which has been heard from age to age and in all stages is this; one must enjoy life. The term ‘enjoy’, here, really refers to sensuous pleasure, for the primacy of the pleasure is the most instinctive and also the most distinctive feature of the aesthetic stage. Such terms as ‘hedonism’ and ‘romanticism’ have been used by critics to describe this aesthetic stage of life. In general, the term ‘aesthetic’ here refers to a life of feeling and immediacy, as the aesthete cannot conceive of a higher plane of existence. Though the aesthete may get engrossed in ordinary and commonplace pleasures, it is the enigmatic, the surprising and the secretive kind of pleasure that keeps him absorbed. The aesthete has to drown the dullness and the boredom that overtakes him in the search for pleasure. The sense of dullness has to be kept away by the category of ‘interesting’. The aesthete, experiments with varying possibilities of the erotic, but yet does not make any commitments. That is the reason why he rejects the bond of marriage. Searching for immediacy, variety, and novelty, he avoids any kind of stability or resting place. Kierkegaard says that with marriage, the pleasure lover has always been an observer and has lacked seriousness. ‘The Banquet’ in Stages on Life’s Way, sometimes compared to Plato’s Symposium, presents a vivid description of the sensualist. The motto for the occasion is ‘in vino veritas’, which implies that truth can be uttered under the influence of wine. Kierkegaard refers to the ‘festive, seductive strains’ that tore him from the ‘cloistered seclusion of tranquil youth’.2 Whatever refinements are used, the aesthete ends in despair.



The aesthete does not give up but uses a technique called the ‘rotation method’, diversifying the pleasures that he seeks. It is like changing the crop and the method of cultivation!

Critique of the Aesthetic Philosophy of Life Volume II of Kierkegard’s Either/Or presents a critique of the aesthetic stage through the eyes of Judge William, and it is made from the view of the ethical stage. Here, it is shown that marriage is the best blend of the aesthetic and the ethical, and even the religious. Further, the aesthetic element may be held fast in spite of obstacles, and marriage is considered the true transfiguration of romantic life. Pure erotic love is considered the enigmatic, the secretive and the surprising, whereas conjugal love stands for candour, open-heartedness, revelation, and understanding. The ethical person also binds himself to others in the community. I am not going to describe the religious stage in detail. It has to do with the uniqueness of the individual. The religious transfigures the ethical with a new group of ethical categories—suffering, guilt, sin, and faith. The influence of Kierkegaard’s interpretation colours the religious stage, at which point there are differences with Buddhism.

Critique of Pleasure and Sensuality in Buddhism What the Buddha referred to as ‘the way of sensuality’ (Kāmasukhallikānuyoga), is what the Buddha rejected along with another extreme, the way of extreme asceticism. This is described as a low, pagan practice. The Buddha presented a balanced life where the ethical as rooted in marriage was recommended, thus bearing some resemblance to Kierkegaard. He also presented the religious life in the description of the holy life of a monk (brahmacariya). For the Buddha, sensuality has a subjective and objective origin; five types of pleasure are obtained by way of the five senses. Subjectively, he refers to the desires, and craving for sensory/sensuous pleasure. Objects of pleasure are ‘delightful, dear, passion-fraught and inciting to lust’. The Buddha also says, though they may be manifold and sweet (kāmācitrā madhurā), they cause suffering (dukkha), unpleasantness, and turbulence. Like Kierkegaard, the Buddha would add that they also give frustration to those who fail to satisfy desires, and boredom to those who get an overdose of sensual pleasures. Buddha discerns the circularity of it. With some, it becomes an



entanglement from which one cannot escape and thus it moves around in a vicious circle. The most important point is that the discord of the pleasure-lover is a facet of Buddhist dukkha, though Buddhist dukkha has wider ramifications. The ethical in Buddhism is not merely broader than Kierkegaard’s concept of the ethical but more comprehensive and complex. It is found both in advice for the layman and the monk. The rules for the monk are more complex. Kierkegaard in a self-conscious way used the dramatic concept of irony and incongruity but yet the irony and the incongruity of those who are inauthentic in noticing the cracks and fissures of their lives are even more evident in the Buddhist context, as Ñāṇavīra Thera has elegantly presented. In the basic presentation of the human predicament, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre had similarities to Buddhism but unlike any of them, as Ñāṇavīra Thera explicitly says, the Buddha presented a comprehensive path of liberation.

The Meaning of Anxiety Following Ñāṇavīra’s interpretation of ‘humour as incongruity’ and fear and dread caused by the cracks and fissures in one’s emotional life—the meaning of terms like anxiety, fear, worry and dread in Buddhism need some detailed elucidation. The existentialist concept of built-in-anxiety may be integrated into the Buddhist concept of dukkha, though there are differences. Anxiety regarding the non-existent (paritassana) is an important Buddhist concept. This is divided into a subjective anxiety regarding the non-existent and an objective anxiety regarding the existent. When a person has lost something valuable like gold, he grieves that something that belonged to him is no more, laments for it and falls into disillusionment. Thus, there is anxiety about something objective (bahiddhā asati paritassanā). This is a different anxiety from the subjective (ajjhatta), as in the case of the eternalist who believes that the self will remain an everlasting entity and who when he hears of the Buddhist doctrine of nonself becomes frightened and thinks, ‘I will surely be annihilated’. Thus, according to the Buddha, one should be free of such anxiety.

Agitation and the Lion’s Roar There is a difference between anxiety (paritassana) and stirring (saṃvega). The latter is a wholesome state. The Buddha’s doctrine is described as a lion’s roar. The Buddha says there are four types of



thoroughbred steeds: (i) the steed that is stirred and agitated at the sight of a goad stick; (ii) the steed that is agitated and stirred when it’s coat is pierced with the stick; (iii) the steed that is agitated and stirred when the flesh is pierced; and (iv) the steed that is stirred and agitated when the bone is pierced. This is compared to the predicament of four men: (i) a person hears that in a particular village or town a person has died; (ii) a person beholds with his own eyes a person has died; (iii) a person who sees his relative afflicted and dead; and (iv) the person himself is struck with pain and suffering. All of them are stirred in different degrees after listening to the Buddha. They hear the lion’s roar and follow the path.3 This stirring is different from restlessness and worry (kukkucca), which is one of the hindrances.

Notes 1. Søren Kierkegaard (1843: 1995). Either/Or. Vols. I and II, Trans. Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 2.  Søren Kierkegaard (1845: 1988). Stages on Life’s Way. Trans. Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 42. 3. Khajjaniya Sutta iii, p. 15.

References Kierkegaard, S. (1843: 1995). Either/Or (W. Lowrie, Trans., Vols. I and II). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1845: 1988). Stages on Life’s Way (W. Lowrie, Trans.). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Khajjaniya Sutta iii, p. 15.


Theories of Humour

Abstract  The well-known theories are the incongruity theory, the relief theory, and the superiority theory and I only discuss the first two theories. The incongruity theory is central to the present study and especially the one developed by Nanavira thero through the works of Kierkegaard and Heidegger. Tragedy and comedy, fear and laughter are the two sides of a contradiction which creates cracks and fissures, and by non-reactive good humour we look at them, disarm and exorcise them. Freud considers humour functions to release tensions which exist at a subliminal level and this is clinically interesting. Keywords  Theories of humour Relief theory

· Incongruity · Superiority

What is the important difference between ‘emotions’ and ‘humour’? In this chapter, a fascinating response to this question is possible. It has been pointed out by one of the foremost scholars on emotions says that if you skilfully unravel the knots, there is a difference. According to Aaron Ben-Zeév, humour is similar to emotions in having a strong element of incongruity or change, and both humour and emotions combine the two perspectives of the expected and unexpected. However, in emotions the simultaneous presence of incongruent perspectives is problematic and thus calls for immediate practical action but ‘in humour the incongruity is enjoyable’ and thus does not call for action. © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




He also points out that while emotions call for a practical orientation, humour involves a more abstract as well as a less purposeful stance. We may also use humour to block out fear or anger.1 It may be said that people use humour as a counterweight to manage their fears and anxieties almost at a subliminal level rather than as a conscious artefact. Once these knots are unravelled the nature of humour and the theory of incongruity becomes clear.

Three Theories of Humour The late Robert C. Solomon who has been a pioneer in emotion studies has examined the basic theories of humour. He reviews John Morreall’s analysis of humour as the superiority theory, the relief theory of Freud, and the incongruity theory of Kant, Schopenhauer, and Kierkegaard. He finds limitations in all three theories. But, restricting my present analysis to incongruity theory, his evaluation is important: Illustrious philosophical defenders of this incongruity theory include, Arthur Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer and the existentialist Søren Kierkegaard. My objection to this theory is not its civility, which makes the welcome point about laughter’s intrinsic sociality, but its vagueness. One can find some ‘incongruity’ in almost any joke or comedy skit. But it is a good observation that humour often involves a breach in our expectations, a surprise, or some oddity, that is itself amusing. But here, of course, is the problem. Explaining why an oddity is amusing seems to repeat the question, what makes something funny? Indeed not all incongruities are amusing.2

First, I need to respond to the issue of vagueness and limit myself to Kierkegaard. (i) His analysis of incongruity is not vague, it is contextual as anyone reading the two volumes of Either/Or would find.3 It is simply brilliant in flesh and blood and his other works like Stages on Life’s Way develop the theme further.4 (ii) The amusing surprise which causes laughter is the discovery that what Ñāṇavīra Thera calls ‘cracks and fissures in daily life’ are exposed, but one looks at them with good humour which is also non-reactive, which itself is an education. (iii) This theory does not cover all incongruities but specific and contextual types of incongruities. (iv) I have found a kindred voice in Ñāṇavīra Thera’s understanding of Buddhism, as someone greatly steeped in



existentialism. He adds a sense of authenticity, and again it becomes contextual as we look at specific settings in early Buddhism. Robert Solomon was one of the great pioneers of emotion studies who greatly inspired me and it is with great humility that I respond to him. My contribution to a memorial volume indicates his contributions to emotion studies and my indebtedness to him.5 Unlike many analytically oriented philosophers, he had a remarkable knowledge of Nietzsche and existentialism. My early fascination with existentialism, in addition to my training in analytic philosophy, has contributed to this little piece of writing, rediscovering the insights of a Buddhist monk, Venerable Ñāṇavīra who spent his life in the forest in Bundala, in Sri Lanka.

Incongruity Theories The incongruity theory is the central theory on which I have focused in the present book through Ñāṇavīra Thera’s interpretation of a Buddhist perspective. It is also inspired by existentialist philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger. In the history of incongruity theories, according to an analysis by Aaron Smuts, Aristotle’s Rhetoric presents the earliest glimmer of an incongruity theory of humour. ‘Primarily focusing on the object of humour, this school sees humour as a response to an incongruity, a term broadly used to include ambiguity, logical impossibility, irrelevance and inappropriateness’.6 The incongruity theory is the reigning theory and it has become a kind of umbrella term, so that within the incongruity theories of Aristotle, Kant, Schopenhauer, Bergson, and Kierkegaard, there are differences of emphasis. But, as my study of developing a Buddhist perspective is basically focused on Kierkegaard, the reader will be able to understand my interpretation of a Buddhist theory of humour. It must be mentioned that in addition, Buddhism shares some important insights with Sigmund Freud on the relief theory of humour. This appreciation was partly due to my interest in the subliminal/unconscious in Freud and Buddhism which came out of my doctoral study on Freud and Buddhism.7 What I find interesting with Aristotle is that people in Greece who went to enjoy a drama in a theatre found that their own struggles, little tragedies/comedies, were staged, and they went back home after the performance with a sense of relief. This came to be described as ‘catharsis’, thus making a case for the relief theory of humour in Freud.



D. H. Monroe8 presents a useful analysis of the concept of incongruence in Immanuel Kant: ‘In everything that is to excite a lively laugh, there must be something absurd (in which the understanding can find no satisfaction). Laughter is an affection arising from the sudden transformation of a strained expectation to nothing.9 In this view, what is essential is the mingling of two ideas which are felt to be utterly disparate. One or other may be degraded in the processes. The neatness of the joke will depend on the degree of contrast between the two elements and the completeness with which they are made to fuse. A line from Schopenhauer’s friend Chamfort, will be very illuminating to describe his version of incongruity: ‘Nature didn’t tell me: ‘Don’t be poor’. Nor indeed: ‘Be rich’ but she does beg me: ‘Be independent’.10

Chamfort’s sense of humour and incongruity depends on the unexpected connection between ideas. Heidegger helps us to understand Kierkegaard against the background of the philosophy of existentialism. Heidegger describes the life of the ordinary person as a state of ‘fallenness’, as most men hide themselves from themselves by identifying with the anonymous ‘they’ or ‘others’. This existence is described as inauthentic existence, and Jean Paul Sartre describes it as ‘serious mindedness’. It is the inauthentic, the serious-minded, the solemn who are the non-laughers. Or rather, they do laugh—but only at what the ‘they’ have decided is funny.11 Ñāṇavīra Thera says that in the Khajjaniya Sutta it is said that people are devoured by the five aggregates.12 Unlike Heidegger, the Buddha sees a way out of inauthentic existence. The authentic man faces himself reflexively and sees himself in his existential solitude—he sees that people are devoured by the five aggregates which accounts for their inauthentic existence. But sometimes the smooth surface of the public world of the ‘they’ shows cracks and fissures and the inauthentic man is pierced by the pangs of anxiety. Chief among them is the possibility of death where the inauthentic man suddenly realises that this is his possibility too. But this shattering experience is very temporary and he returns quickly to the comfortable bosom of anonymity. At this stage, we confront the phenomenology of ‘anxiety’ (paritassana). In the Alagaddūpama Sutta, a monk asks the Buddha, about ‘objective anxiety’. The Buddha replies that it is the way a man’s possessions



slip away that causes objective anxiety. If one has gold and loses it then that is objective anxiety.13 Then the monk asks whether there can be anxiety about something which is subjective? ‘Can there be anxiety, Lord, about subjective anxiety and absence?’ The Buddha responds by saying that when an eternalist hears about nibbāna, he is disturbed, thinking it is extinction.

The Relief Theory of Freud In his The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious,14 Freud said that a joke will allow us to exploit something ridiculous in our enemy which we could not, on account of obstacles in the way, bring forward openly. And, we can gain a reception with the hearer as they would have never responded in a non-joking context. And, such criticism may be directed to people in exalted positions. This point was also mentioned by De Botton.15 Freud considered humour as a way of outwitting the censor. It is not only our sexual impulses which are released by the unconscious but malicious ones. In fact, in Freud’s study of dreams, Freud refers to a repetition compulsion to master overpowering ideas. And, there is an important link between dream interpretation and jokes. In general, as a relief theory, we may refer to the tension release model. I have found in my research into the Buddhist concept of the subliminal/unconscious that there are both similarities and differences to Freud: with a drive for sensual pleasure, which has an ego-oriented drive and a destructive/ self-annihilation drive.16 But I have not done any research to its relation to humour, though there is material on its relation to dreams. By witnessing in a drama on the stage, a re-enactment of human impulses of sexuality and selfishness, there is room for a process of catharsis, by the releasing of blocked tensions. The relief theory is easy to understand whereas the incongruity theory is complex but interesting.


1. Aaron Ben-Zee’v (2000). The Subtlety of Emotions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 39, 63–64. 2. Robert C. Solomon (2007). True to Our Feelings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 82–83. 3. Søren Kierkegaard (1843: 1995). Either/Or. Vols. I and II, Trans. Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press.



4.  Søren Kierkegaard (1845: 1988). Stages on Life’s Way. Trans. Walter Lowrie: Princeton: Princeton University Press. 5. Padmasiri de Silva (2012). ‘On the Lost Art of Sadness’, in Passion, Death and Spirituality. Edited by Higgins and Sherman, pp. 176–190. 6. Aaron Smuts (2017). ‘Humour’. Internet Encyclopedia of Humour, pp. 12, 26. 7.  Padmasiri de Silva (2010). Buddhist and Freudian Psychology. Carlton North, VIC: Shogum, pp. xxxiii–xxxv. 8. D. H. Monroe (1988). ‘Theories of Humour’, in Laurence Behrens and Leonard Rosen (eds.), Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, pp. 349–355. 9.  Immanuel Kant (1965). Critique of Judgment. Indianapolis: BobbsMerrill, pp. I, 54. 10. Nicholas Chamfort (1795: 2004). Maximes et Pensées, in Status Anxiety. Edited by Alain de Botton. London: Penguin Books. 11. Ñāṇavīra Thera (2012). Collected Wheel Publications, vol. XXII, p. 272. 12. Khajjaniya Sutta 79: iii, pp. 87–88. 13. Alagaddūpama Sutta (M 22: i, 136–137). 14.  Sigmund Freud (1976). The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious. Harmondsworth-New York, Penguin. 15.  Alain de Botton (2004: repr. 2014). Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton, p. 173. 16.  Padmasiri de Silva (2010). Buddhist and Freudian Psychology. Carlton North, VIC: Shogum.

References Alagaddūpama Sutta, M 22. Ben-Zee’v, A. (2000). The Subtlety of Emotions. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. de Botton, A. (2004: repr. 2014). Status Anxiety. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton. de Silva, P. (2010). Buddhist and Freudian Psychology. Carlton North, VIC: Shogum. Freud, S. (1976). The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious. HarmondsworthNew York, Penguin. Kant, I. (1965). Critique of Judgment. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. Khajjaniya Sutta, p. 79. Kierkegaard, S. (1843: 1995). Either/Or (W. Lowrie, Trans., Vols. I and II). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Kierkegaard, S. (1845: 1988). Stages on Life’s Way (W. Lowrie, Trans.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.



Monroe, D. H. (1988). Theories of Humour. In Laurence Behrens & Leonard Rosen (Eds.), Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman. Smuts, A. (2017). Humour. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (pp. 12, 26). Accessed at Solomon, R. C. (2007). True to Our Feelings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ñāṇavīra Thera. (2012). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal: Selected Letters of Nanavira Thera. Collected Wheel Publications, vol. XXII, (pp. 225– 291). Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.


Buddhist Perspectives on Fear

Abstract  Fear in the Buddhist discourses appear under psychological, ethical, and religious contexts. In the psychological context Buddhism refers to the subliminal facets of fear and anxiety, as is also presented by Ledoux in emotion studies. Under the ethical, we get the Buddhist notion of shame of evil and dread of evil and from a psychological point of view morally deficient fears are also based on attachments. The roots of delusion, greed, grasping and attachment are at the base of fear and anxiety. Even a monk gone to the forest, if defilements are present in him, this causes fear and dread. Existentialist thinking has their own interpretation of anxiety which offers parallels to Buddhist thinking. Keywords  Fear and dread

· Anxiety · Unconscious

Though we have looked at fear in relation to laughter and humour, in this chapter I am making an effort to look at fear and anxiety across a scientific and analytic approach. In brief: (i) the study of fear by Joseph Ledoux who is credited with creating new frontiers in emotion studies1; (ii) the riddle of anxiety and fear in Freud’s psychoanalytic approach; (iii) fear, dread and angst in the existentialist tradition of Kierkegaard and Heidegger who say that the inauthentic man is fleeing from angst; (iv) the Buddhist sermon on fear and dread (Bhayabherava Sutta). When Ñāṇavīra claims that tragedy and comedy are ways of apprehending contradictions, he is speaking under the shadow of the existentialist. © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




There is no doubt that Ledoux develops a complete book on fear, which is a brilliant study, but in his whole book he has just has one sentence about dread: ‘Indeed, for the existential philosophers (like Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre), dread, angst, and anguish are at the core of human existence’.2 But there is nothing more than this sentence! I say this because both traditions do illuminate emotion study and especially, the nature of fear and dread. I have been doubly fortunate in the postgraduate education I received at the University of Hawaii as I had a blend of all four traditions: scientific/analytic; psychoanalytic; existentialist and Buddhist. They are all important and the context matters. Subsequently, I have moved into mindfulness-based therapy.3 Sometimes the differences among these approaches are due to the use of differences in the language, but they illuminate the same subject from different perspectives. I have written a whole chapter on the nature of persons and personal identity from the analytical and existential approaches.4 One of Ledoux’s important discoveries was that the subliminal (unconscious) played a central role in the emotion of ‘fear’. Further, to some extent the ‘inauthentic’ in Heidegger or Kierkegaard represents strong layers of the subliminal for which Buddhism has a very insightful analysis. To take an example given by Ledoux where I have reformulated it: A man walking on a lonely forest track tramples on a bundle of dry twigs and is subject to the flight or fight reflex, where he is about to run, thinking it is a rattlesnake. In this context, the central nervous system (CNS) has been hijacked by the amygdala, and impulsive action follows. In normal circumstances it is the central nervous system that processes the information rather than the automatic nervous system (ANS), and thus it provides the basis for action.

In the Buddhist analysis of motivation there is a clear role for the subliminal, which term I prefer, as the subliminal is closer to our conscious level. Passions lie at a dormant level (anusaya bhūmi); they may emerge at a thought level (pariyuṭṭhāna bhūmi) or they become fierce at a physical level (vītikkama bhūmi). This analysis is directly applied to anger, lust, and conceit in the suttas, though it could be applied to fear and anxiety. Ledoux says ‘the evidence for the unconscious aspect of emotions is often denied or ignored, or when accepted given a second billing to



the conscious aspects’. Ledoux says fear is different from anger as it has a different physiological signature. Ledoux has an interesting analysis of anxiety: Anxiety and fear are closely related. Both are reactions to harmful or potentially harmful situations. Anxiety is usually distinguished from fear by the lack of an entire stimulus that elicits the reaction—anxiety coming from within us.

Anxiety may be well described as unresolved fear. When fear and anxiety are recurrent and persistent then it becomes a disorder. Freud was the first to work with these disorders though the Freudian approach is not the only approach now. But Freud’s analysis was to some extent ground-breaking and opened up a whole field of studies. The Buddhist analysis to which I turn now, had a deeper analysis. It looks at anxiety as an enmeshed ego. As our main interest is in the Buddhist analysis of humour, fear and anxiety, we shall now present a comprehensive picture of ‘fear’ in the Buddhist analysis and philosophy of mind.

Fear in the Buddhist Discourses Fear appears in two kinds of contexts: firstly in ethical and religious contexts, and secondly fear more as dread in existential contexts. Under an ethical context, we get the Buddhist notion of a healthy conscience (hiri ottappa) which is a blend of shame of evil (hiri) and dread of evil, and of leading a bad life. From a psychological rather than an ethical view, fears consequent on excessive attachments to possessions, people, and power, will obstruct contentment and the long road to liberation. The roots of delusion, greed, grasping, and attachment generate fears which are both psychologically and ethically unhealthy. It has been mentioned in the discourses that evil deeds may be done under four motives, partiality, enmity, stupidity, and fear.5 Certain fears like the fear of evil are to be cultivated and certain other types of fears are to be eradicated. The root of negative fears is attachment. While the Buddha is described as the dispeller of fear, dread and panic, ordinary beings with strong attachments are subject to psychological fears and dread in a more existential sense—those attached to the five aggregates. There is a classic discussion of existential anguish in the Gradual Sayings.6



… a certain one is not freed from passion, not freed from lusts, not free from desire, affection, from thirst and fever, not free from craving. Then a grievous sickness afflicts such a one. Thus afflicted … it occurs to him. Alas! The passions that I love will leave me or I shall leave the passions I love.

‘The Discourse on Fear and Dread’7 has already been presented in Chapter 5. This discourse presents in detail the fear and dread pertaining to the monk who has gone to the forest for the contemplative life. If a recluse who has gone to the forest has not got rid of defiling states of thought, body, and action, unskilled fear and dread may be caused in him by even the rustling of leaves, the breaking of a twig, or the movement of a peacock or deer. Such fears and dread can also be caused in those who: are lustful and covetous, corrupt in heart and are prone to anger and wickedness, are slothful, have disturbed minds, extol themselves, disparage others… seek honours and fame, lack sufficient energy, have a muddled and a wavering mind. The Buddha says that he frequents remote forests, beholding the self, abiding in ease here and now, and being compassionate for the folk that come after. For more detailed references on fear in the suttas, see my book Twin Peaks: Compassion and Insight.8

Concluding Thoughts: Integrating Different Concepts of the Unconscious The pathways from the Ledoux’s conception of the subliminal, Freudian concept of the unconscious and the existentialist ‘inauthentic’, though different, do generate cross-cutting pathways. As mentioned earlier, while spelling out his conception of the subliminal/unconscious, Ledoux referred to Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre but did not spell out differences or similarities. My immersion in existentialism, the Western philosophy of emotions (Ledoux), Freud and Buddhist meditation practice has generated a lively dialogue in my mind. There is an interpretation of Freud giving a new perspective of the links between Freud and Buddhist meditation by Mark Epstein: ‘Bare attention is the technique that best defines the Buddhist approach to working with our minds and emotions. It is impartial, open, nonjudgmental, interested, patient, fearless and impersonal’.9



Mark Epstein says that Freud’s views on the unconscious went through three stages: the first is the cathartic view, when he used hypnotism for re-enacting and re-living traumatic incidents; the second was when he gave up hypnotism and used the method of free association to recall memories without inhibition; the third stage is where Freud moves from the forgotten past to the immediate present, and is marked by his celebrated paper.10 Existentialism, as presented by Ñāṇavīra Thera, brings the existentialist analysis of ‘inauthenticity’ close to Buddhism. Last, there is evidence that the philosophy of emotions as developed by Antonio Damasio (working in the same field as Joseph Ledoux) has a refreshing review of Buddhist contributions to meditation practice. Reviewing Robert Wright’s book, Why Buddhism Is True, Dasmsasio says: First, the beneficial powers of meditation come from the possibility of realising that our emotive reactions and the consequent feelings they engender—which operates in automated fashion, outside our deliberate control—are often inappropriate and even counterproductive relative to the situations that trigger. Second, the mismatch between causes and responses is rooted in evolution… The apparatus—which is controlled from varied sectors of our nervous system—was created by natural selection and assisted by genetic transmission over a long period of time. It worked well for the non-human primates and later for human hunter gatherers, but it has worked far less as cultures became more complex. Third, meditation allows us to realize that the idea of the self as the director of our decisions is an illusion, and the awareness brought about by meditation helps the construction of a truly enlightened humanity and counters the glowing tribalism of contemporary societies.11


1. Joseph Ledoux (1998). The Emotional Brain. London. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 2. Joseph Ledoux (1988). The Emotional Brain, p. 129. 3.  Padmasiri de Silva (2017). Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Pathways of Somatic Intelligence. London: Palgrave Macmillan.



4.  Padmasiri de Silva (2007). Explorers of Inner Space: The Buddha, Krishnamurti and Kierkegaard. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha, pp. 36–42. 5. A II 202. 6. A II 172–174. 7. Bhayabherava Sutta, M Sutta 4. 8.  Padmasiri de Silva (1991). Twin Peaks: Compassion and Insight. Singapore: Buddhist Research Society. 9.  Mark Epstein (1995). Thoughts Without a Thinker. New York: Basic Books, p. 126. 10.  Sigmund Freud (1958). ‘Remembering, Repeating and Working Through.’ The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud 12: 145–156. 11. Antonio Damasio (2017). Book Review of Why Buddhism Is True. Edited by Robert Wright. New York Times, 7 August.

References Damasio, A. (2017, August 7). Book Review of Why Buddhism Is True. Edited by Robert Wright. New York Times. de Silva, P. (1991). Twin Peaks: Compassion and Insight. Singapore: Buddhist Research Society. de Silva, P. (2007). Explorers of Inner Space: The Buddha, Krishnamurti and Kierkegaard. Ratmalana, Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya Vishvalekha. de Silva, P. (2014). An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Epstein, M. (1995). Thoughts Without a Thinker (p. 126). New York: Basic Books. Freud, S. (1958). Remembering, Repeating and Working Through. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 12, 145–156. Ledoux, J. (1988). The Emotional Brain. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Ñāṇavīra Thera (1987). The Tragic, the Comic and the Personal. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.


Emotional Integrity and Resilience

Abstract  A greater part of this work has been on the ‘inauthentic’ patterns of life and its cracks and flaws which become the focus of irony and humour but to strike a balance, this chapter has a focus on two strands of the authentic life, emotional integrity, and resilience. We have examined negative emotions like anger, envy, and greed but awareness of these negativities through mindfulness generates emotional integrity. But emotional integrity is not merely mindfulness of negativities. It is the richness of one’s emotional life through conflicts, dilemmas, and the strength with which we handle them, overcoming such challenges enriches one’s life. Resilience is not only to withstand difficult challenges but benefit from them. It generates also both grit and strength, as well as generosity and flexibility. Current neurology describes such resilience as ‘non-reactivity’. Keywords  Emotional integrity

· Resilience · Reactivity · Compassion

The present work on humour has been greatly devoted to the exposure of ‘inauthentic’ patterns of life in people. A reviewer of this manuscript raised an interesting query. The work is focused on ‘the cracks and fissures and the contradictions in our lives’ which we look through the often soft parameters of laughter and humour, which Soren Kierkegaard described as inauthentic life. But there is a need for some balance by briefly focusing on the positive emotions. There are many © The Author(s) 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,




positive emotions ranging from eudaimonia and compassion within contemporary emotion studies,1 but in keeping with the tenor of this book as a whole, I wish to focus on the authentic life as different from the inauthentic life described by Kierkegaard and Heidegger. Robert C. Solomon the great pioneer of emotion studies died on 7 January 2007 at the age of sixty five, in a transit lounge at Zurich airport. His last work is titled True to Our Feelings. It provides a gateway to the present chapter.2 Emotional integrity has to do with the unity of our emotional lives … Emotional integrity is not just consistency in one’s emotional life (where the easiest consistency or unity to be sure, is an exclusive focal point, a single set of beliefs, and a single emotion). Integrity implies richness and profundity rather than simplicity … Emotional integrity … necessarily involves second order reflection as well as first order feeling, and … I would want to allow for a mixed, even conflicted repertoire of feelings, emotions and reflections, including dissatisfaction, self-criticism, lack of contentment, and real ethical dilemmas, that is impossible choices and engagements … A life without any such sense of conflict is a limited life indeed … A happy life with emotional integrity is not a life without conflict and one in which one wisely manages emotional conflicts in conjunction with ones most heartfelt values.3

Solomon’s perception of integrity falls in line with a thesis I have presented in my recent book, The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies.4 The Buddha emphasised that conflicts grow from the nature of life and rather than considering them as threats and problems, we need to consider them as opportunities to grow and thus recognise the gift of conflict in our lives. Thus, as different from handling the inauthentic life through humour, which has been a central theme of the book, we turn to fresh, positive pastures of a vibrant and resilient emotional life. Kathleen Higgins says that while focusing on the emotional integrity Bob (Solomon) was emphasising a narrative conception of the meaning of life and death: We make sense of our individual lives through the evolving stories we build as we try to draw the threads together into something integral. Not only do we give shape to our individual lives through interpreting them as stories; we also see stories in the lives of others, giving them shapes and meanings that differ in certain ways from the stories that individuals see in their



own lives. Because there are tensions between the ways we individually see things, features of our narratives are sometimes challenged by those of others, complicating the project of trying to integrate our individual stories, either internally or with the larger texture of narratives beyond them … Difference is essential to human beings learning from each other.5

It is relevant that Solomon was attracted by the existential character of the reflections of Sartre and Camus. Solomon’s focus on the existential authentic lives offers an interesting contrast to the inauthentic life patterns that have been the subject of our study of humour in this book. In fact, Søren Kierkegaard, the existential philosopher discussed in the present work, brings out graphic patterns of inauthentic lives: patterns in the depiction of the pleasure lover in contrast to the person who is committed to a sober family life. Thus, Solomon’s focus on the emotional integrity offers deeper and profound sources of our emotional lives. To make a reference to my personal fascination with emotion studies, at an earlier stage, Solomon was a kind of informal mentor, and I have written an article titled ‘The Lost Art of Sadness’ in the memorial volume edited by his wife, Kathleen Higgins, and David Sherman. This article was relevant to the immense feelings of loss I felt for a brilliant philosopher who died at the early age of sixty-five: The dominant psychiatric traditions have failed to clearly comprehend that ‘sadness’ is a basic facet of the human predicament and not a clinical disorder. It is true that grief and mourning are often grave departures from routine life, but it is not a morbid condition and there is no need to hand over the mourner for medical treatment. In grief counselling, some of the richer facets of grief are seen: grief being a time for deep reflection on issues of the meaning of life and for commemorating the contributions of the lost one and to make one’s love live.6 In the context of suffering, to reflect on life and give meaning to it, and even embrace it, is the path of generating insight and discernment about life and death according to the Buddha, as he explained in the first noble truth in his first sermon, ‘Setting the Wheel in Motion’.7

Emotional Resilience and Emotional Balance The second dimension for positive emotions comes from the intersection of neuroscience, psychology, and current contemplative practice and is best presented in Rick Hanson’s inspirational path about becoming a



resilient human being, through grit, gratitude and compassion.8 First, I shall present the groundbreaking research outline on resilience and non-reactivity by Richard J. Davidson9 and also Daniel J. Siegel,10 which aid in emotional integrity: Resilient people are somehow able not only to withstand but to benefit from certain kinds of stressful events and turn adversity into advantage. This in a nutshell is the puzzle that has driven my research … The answer that has emerged from my own work is that different people have different emotional styles. These are constellations of emotional reactions and coping responses that differ in kind, intensity, and duration.11

Davidson, as a neuroscientist has given the details of what is described as affective style and its relation to non-reactivity: One of the key components of affective style is the capacity to regulate negative emotion and specifically to decrease the duration of negative affect once it arises. The connection between the PFC (prefrontal cortex) and the amygdala play an important role in the regulatory processes. We have defined resilience as the maintenance of high levels of positive affect and well-being in the face of adversity. It is not that resilient individuals never experience negative affect, but rather that negative affect does not persist.12

The Resilient Brain At one end of the spectrum, we find that when struck by adversity and setbacks there are some who will either recover very slowly and others who will fight back with a quick recovery. Davidson’s research brings out the very important point that resilience is marked by greater left versus right activation in the prefrontal cortex, while a lack of resilience comes from right prefrontal activation. When we feel anxious, threatened or fearful, the amygdala is involved. The left prefrontal cortex might inhibit the amygdala and thus help rapid recovery. Siegel sums this up in his book, The Mindful Brain: In the brain, the prefrontal cortex has direct linkages to the lower limbic area. These linkages enable the prefrontal area to both assess the state of arousal in these subcortical regions as well as to modulate their firing.13



Siegel also describes the importance of ‘non-reactivity’ which involves internal affective and autonomic balance and interactive flexibility. Davidson refers to what he describes as affective style and that is the capacity to regulate negative emotion and specifically to decrease the duration of negative affect once it arises. The important concept is ‘non-reactivity’. That it reveals a central aspect of resilience, is also presented by Hanson. The following findings are important: Resilience can be learned through experience. Affective style is not fixed in cement by genes or by early experience, but can be seen as a skill that with training can be moved in the direction of well-being. What we know about the relationship between caregiver and offspring is that attentiveness and care can lead to the development of resilience.14

Mindfulness may thus be considered as a blend of attention and care. When mindfulness is operationalized we have the following: 1. Non-reactivity to inner experience 2. Observing, noticing/attending to sensation, perception, thoughts, feelings 3. Acting with awareness and not being on automatic pilot 4. Describing labelling with words 5. Non-judgment of experience. Rick Hanson has written a book titled The Resilient Path. How to grow an unshakable core of calm, strength, and happiness is the basic theme of his masterful guide and inspirational guide for sustaining happiness. It is a broad philosophy of life built on the foundations of the research by Davidson, Siegel, and many others. As described in the book’s blurb, ‘true resilience’ is much more than enduring terrible conditions. We need resilience every day to raise a family, to work at a job, cope with stress, deal with health problems, navigate issues with others, heal from pain and simply keep going. The book goes on to describe how to grow twelve vital inner strengths. The resilient path of Hanson may very well be integrated with a Buddhist householder’s life and it is a very good philosophy of life but Buddhism is also ‘a path of liberation’ and its goals involve a distinctive ethics and training of the mind. I shall not pursue this point in the



present chapter but towards the end will give examples related to the ethics and the psychology of the liberation path, the four exertions and the seven factors of enlightenment. 1. Compassion according to Hanson is a great psychological resource which may be described as an inner strength. This has to be developed over time. In fact, in my own work on pain management,15 I found it is the value of compassion which makes one resilient. Compassion towards oneself helps self-acceptance and also acceptance of others. 2. Mindfulness is central to Buddhist practice. In fact, as William James has said, the education of attention would be the education par excellence. Our brain is shaped by our experience and that is shaped by attention and with mindful attention and the experience of psychological resources, such as compassion and gratitude, these can be hardwired into one’s system. 3. Learning Think not lightly of good, saying, “It will not come to me”. Drop by drop is The water pot filled. Likewise One gathering it little by little, fills Oneself with good. The Dhammapada16

4. Grit Grit is something very crucial on the Buddhist path. It is balanced but sustained by the application of energy. Hanson says that people are often subject to ‘learned helplessness’ saying they just cannot perform. People should welcome challenging situations. 5. Gratitude The positive emotions of giving thanks to others and taking pleasure in the success of others are important.  In an earlier chapter we have seen its opposite, the insidious nature of envy. 6. Confidence Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. We need to strengthen the inner nurturer and develop lasting confidence.



7. We need to develop the ‘rest-and-digest’ parasympathetic branch of our nervous system, instead of developing the ‘fight-or-flight’ sympathetic branch. 8. Motivation Resilience is more than bouncing back from adversity but pursuing one’s goals in the face of adversity. Regulating the brain’s motivational machinery is a key aspect of resilience. 9. Intimacy I personally feel that mature intimate relations are important as a remedy if not a panacea for loneliness and depression. Instead of focusing on the faults of others, we need a mature sense of personal autonomy which has to be supplemented by empathy, compassion and kindness. 10. Courage What makes people resilient is well described in a brilliant paragraph in Hanson’s list : When important things are left unsaid, it leads to resentment, loneliness and lost opportunities to discover your truth by speaking. People in relationships often do not say what they could about what’s felt good and what’s felt bad and what they really wish would be different. They’re like two boats floating near each other, and each undelivered communication drops between them like a heavy stone, with its waves pushing them farther apart.17

This indicates the importance of what is unsaid. Communicating authentically can have risks, such as emotional vulnerability and putting topics on the table that might upset a relationship.18

Open authentic communication is very necessary for a relationship but one must make it safe for oneself and recognise dangers, speak wisely, and be well-intended. 11. Aspiration ‘In love, work, and play, find the sweet spot at the intersection of three circles: what you enjoy, what you are talented at and what you care about’.19 12. Generosity ‘One who gives, that person’s virtues shall increase’.



The Buddhist Liberation Path A key difference between Hanson’s work and Buddhism is the ethical quality of the Buddhist path as is manifest for instance in the four right exertions for developing skilful qualities of the mind: *for the sake of non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not arisen (samvara) *for the sake of the abandoning of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen (pahana) *for the sake of arising skillful qualities that have not yet arisen (bhavana) *for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, and culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen (anurukkhana).

The seven factors of awakening would be another example. Thus as a liberation path, Buddhism goes beyond Rick Hanson’s path of the resilient. But a Buddhist may integrate most of the features of the path of resilience in their life.


1.  Martha Nussbaum (1991). Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2. Robert C. Solomon (2007). True to Our Feelings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3. Robert C. Solomon (2007). True to Our Feelings, pp. 267–268. 4. Padmasiri de Silva (2017b). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. viii. 5.  Kathleen Higgins (2012). ‘Bob on Meaning in Life and Death’, in Kathleen Higgins and David Sherman (eds.), Passion, Death and Spirituality. New York and London: Springer, p. 261. 6. Padmasiri de Silva (2012). ‘On the Lost Art of Sadness’, in Kathleen Higgins and David Sherman (eds.), Passion, Death and Spirituality, p. 175. 7. Padmasiri de Silva (2014). An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling. London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 154. 8. Rick Hanson (2018). Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness. New York: Harmony, p. 2. 9. Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley (2013). The Emotional Life of Your Brain. London: Hodder.



10. Daniel J. Siegel (2007). The Mindful Brain. New York: Norton. 11. Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley (2013). The Emotional Life of Your Brain, p. 2. 12. Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley (2013). The Emotional Life of Your Brain, pp. 1197, 1208. 13. Daniel J. Siegel (2007). The Mindful Brain, p. 212. 14. Daniel J. Siegel (2007). The Mindful Brain, p. 215. 15.  Padmasiri de Silva (2017). ‘Pain Management’, in de Silva, Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 16. Dhammapada. 17. Rick Hanson (2018). Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, p. 198. 18. Rick Hanson (2018). Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, p. 198. 19. Rick Hanson (2018). Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, p. 237.

References Davidson, R. J., & Begley, S. (2013). The Emotional Life of Your Brain. London: Hodder. de Silva, P. (2012). On the Lost Art of Sadness. In K. Higgins & D. Sherman (Eds.), Passion, Death and Spirituality. New York and London: Springer. de Silva, P. (2014). An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling. London: Palgrave Macmillan. de Silva, P. (2017a). Pain Management. In P. de Silva (Ed.), Emotions and the Body in Buddhist Contemplative Practice and Mindfulness-Based Therapy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. de Silva, P. (2017b). The Psychology of Buddhism in Conflict Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Hanson, R. (2018). Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness. New York: Harmony. Higgins, K. (2012). Bob on Meaning in Life and Death. In K. Higgins & D. Sherman (Eds.), Passion, Death and Spirituality. New York and London: Springer. Nussbaum, M. (1991). Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Solomon, R. C. (2007). True to Our Feelings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


A Anālayo, 23 Anger, xviii, xix, 1–4, 6–9, 11–14, 18, 19, 32, 40, 44, 56, 64–66 Anxiety, xvii, xx, 2, 4–8, 20, 26, 28, 33, 39, 52, 58, 59, 63–65 B Barua, Sajal, 23 Ben-Zeév, Aaron, 55 Boredom, xix, 2, 6, 12, 14, 18, 21, 22, 27, 28, 49–51 Brahm, Ajahn, xvi, xvii, xviii, 5, 20, 21 Buddha’s Use of Parables, 30 Buddhism, xv, xvi, xviii, xx, xxii, 4, 5, 7, 9, 18–20, 23, 26, 27, 34, 38, 44, 46, 49, 51, 52, 56, 57, 64, 67, 68, 70, 73, 76 C Ceccoli, Velleda C., 7, 9 Conflict Studies, xviii, xxii, 23, 46, 70, 76

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, 27, 28 D Damasio, Antonio, 67, 68 de Botton, Alain, xxi, xxii, 6, 9, 12–14, 20, 22, 23, 26, 28, 39, 41, 59, 60 E Ekman, Paul, 13, 14 Emotions, xv, xvii–xx, 1–4, 6–9, 12–14, 18–20, 26, 27, 33, 38, 45, 46, 55, 56, 59, 64, 66, 67, 69–71, 74, 76, 77 Envy, xviii, xix, 1, 2, 6, 7, 12–14, 18, 26, 44, 74 Epstein, Mark, 66–68 F Fear, xviii, 1, 3, 7, 8, 13, 19, 33, 52, 56, 63–66

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018 P. de Silva, The Psychology of Emotions and Humour in Buddhism,


80  Index Freud, sigmund, xv, xx, 4, 14, 25, 55–57, 59, 60, 63, 65–68 Fromm, Erich, 27, 28 G Goldstein, Joseph, 5, 9, 27, 28 Goleman, Daniel, 9 Greed, xvi, xviii, xix, 2–4, 6–9, 12, 14, 17–20, 22, 23, 39, 40, 65 H Hampshire, Stuart, 38, 40 Heidegger, Martin, xv, xix, xx, 52, 57, 58, 63, 64, 66, 70 Humility, 18, 38, 57 Humour, xv, xvii–xx, xxii, 1, 4–9, 12, 13, 18–20, 22, 29, 30, 33, 34, 44–46, 52, 55–60, 63, 65, 69–71 Hyers, xvii, xix, xxii, 46 I Incongruity Theory, xv, xx, 4, 56, 57, 59 J James, William, 6, 9, 74 Jayatunga, Ruchira, 2, 9, 13, 14, 22, 23, 41 K Kierkegaard, Soren, xiii–xvi, xix–xxi, 69 L Laughter, xvi, 7–9, 56, 58, 63, 69 Ledoux, Joseph, 63–67 Linehan, Marsha M., 44

M May, Rollo, 25, 26, 28 Mayer, Bernard, 46 Mindfulness, xviii, 2, 3, 13, 14, 18, 44, 64, 67, 73, 74, 77 Murdoch, Iris, 38, 40 N Ñāṇamoli Thera, 4 Ñāṇavīra Thera, xv, xvii, xix, xxii, 4, 9, 22, 33–35, 52, 56–58, 67 Nettle, Daniel, 9 P Parkes, Graham, 45, 46 R Resonance Theory, 7 S Sartre, Jean Paul, xv, 52, 58, 64, 66, 71 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 56–58 Siegel, Daniel J., 14, 72, 73, 77 Solomon, Robert C., 9, 56, 57, 59, 70 Spinoza, Benedict, 38, 40 Status Anxiety, xv, xix, xxi, xxii, 1, 6, 7, 9, 12, 14, 23, 26, 28, 41, 60 Subliminal, 3, 4, 12, 19, 56, 57, 59, 64, 66 T Thanissaro Thero, xvi Z Zen, xvii, xix, xxii, 5, 8, 44–46

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