Does Buddhism make us emotionless?

A lot of people think that taking the path of Buddhism or spiritualism makes us emotionless. Someone who does not have any emotions, happy or sad. When we think of a Buddhist monk or the Buddha himself, a stereotypical image pops into our mind of someone who does not get angry or sad.  When we think of Shree Krishna, teaching us about detachment, we interpret his teachings as a way to become emotionless. Not having feelings for our loved ones or any other person around us. But I believe that their idea of detachment or enlightenment is totally opposite to what we think it is. 

Emotions are a natural part of us and they arise and go away naturally. Emotions connect us with our fellow humans. What their teachings actually mean is that although emotions are natural, our reaction to those emotions are not. Feelings like happiness, sadness and anger are dependent on the external factors  but our reaction to those emotions can be in our control. 

Imagine that you are on a chariot, running at full speed. Suddenly, a big black cobra comes in our way. Seeing the snake, the horses are bound to panic and because of this the chariot will lose control if we do not take control of the horses and gently move our chariot away from the snake towards our destination. 

Similarly, our emotions are like the horses that are affected by external factors like the snake. These external factors are not in our control, but with our conscious mind, we can certainly control our horses and stir it in the right direction. This I believe is what the Buddha and Shree Krishna and maybe some other religions are trying to teach us.

Being angry is okay, but reacting to it without realizing it is not. What we need to learn is to switch from autopilot mode to manual mode. Meditation and the teachings of the Buddha teach us to be aware of our emotions without reacting to it. We can be angry at someone and that might not be in our control, but yelling at that person and speaking ill or that person is totally in our control. This does not again mean to bury our emotions within us, it simply means to acknowledge our emotions and ask ourselves questions as to what caused this emotion to arise in the first place. Understanding those emotions and slowly letting it go. It also does not mean that we tolerate ill treatment from others without defending or protecting ourselves. It simply means that we confront that situation at hand with full control on our actions. Putting forth our opinions in a firm but polite manner while still being totally aware of our actions may be in the form of words or physical actions. 

These teachings do not make us emotionless, instead they help us understand an even wider spectrum of emotions that we might be feeling during our daily life. It makes us fully aware of all the feelings that we are experiencing and prevents us from taking steps in the heat of emotions, that later on we may regret about. It does not own us and our actions.

Simply stated, Enlightenment or Detachment is not leaving all our things, instead it is that we might own a lot of things but nothing owns us.

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