The Buddhist approach to emotional management

Dr. Jai Mangal Deo
Magadh University
Bodh Gaya

Thanks to Goleman and Weisinger, emotional Management has, of late, come to be recognised as a modern mantra of success. It is regarded as the untapped competitive edge that can make a real difference between nearness and distance, open and closed, conflict and cooperation, acceptance and rejection, love and hate, understanding and misunderstanding, violence and non-violence and jubilation and disappointment. A large number of tests, both in print and electronic media, are now available that claim to test one's emotional Quotient (EQ). A number of organizations have switched from IQ test to EQ tests for personnel selection. Some organizations have included development of EQ in their training module for executives. The time is truly ripe for the rise in numbers of a new breed of professionals called EQ specialists or EQ coach. It is against this backdrop that in the present paper an attempt has been made to highlight the Buddhist view of emotion as energy that needs to be channelised in a certain fashion if a proper balance in the individual is to be maintained. Attention has also been drawn towards the early Buddhist classification of emotions under four categories: (a) emotions obstructing the ideal of a good life sought by the layman, e.g. greed (lobh), (b) emotions interfering with the recluse seeking the path of perfection, e.g. delusion (moha), (c) emotions enhancing the layman's ideal of a good life, e.g. fear (bhaya), and (d) emotions developed by the recluse seeking the path of perfection, e.g. compassion (karuna) and equanimity (upekkha). Reference is also made to Nikaya Psychologists' view that emotions not only cause human suffering but also help an individual in developing the practise of attaining enlightenment; provided one equips oneself with the skills necessary for emotional management, the requirements for which, according to the early Buddhist literature, include: (a) development of a habit of self-observation of one's own emotional states, (b) control of emotional manifestations as they occur, and (c) development of a new set of values so that the situations which earlier elicited the emotion of anger or fear will fail to do so. Towards the end, the paper makes a case for greater application of Buddhist insights and knowledge for emotional management based on the ancient Indian Self Science of Buddhism.


This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002