We are afraid of our emotions and we fear them for good reason. Human history is liberally punctuated by devastating spasms of violent, predatory behavior that leaves fear and trauma in its wake. And, even in peaceful times, we are always vulnerable to the pain of illness, death, and inconsolable grief. Human attempts to manage ourselves through religion and politics have produced only marginal success.
The Buddha's effort to help us seem to begin with a less than helpful, bleak assessment of the human condition. Life, he teaches, is characterized by suffering, impermanence, and absence of self, whatever we might imagine absence of self to mean. We certainly get it that we suffer and we understand that we suffer from wanting. The modern solution to suffering brought on by desire is to quench every possible thirst through an amazingly complex economic engine we call consumerism. But desires multiply and we never have enough of what we want and it is never quite right and we always find ourselves face to face with the basic fact of suffering.
We suffer. We get that. We think we suffer because we don't have what we want. The Buddha teaches, and this is worth investigating, that desire is the cause of suffering. The reality of impermanence doesn't seem so swell. It means we lose everything we ever had, including life. But, the Buddha taught meditation as a vehicle to investigate desire. When we sit and watch and feel desire without trying to change it or make it go away, it comes and gets real strong and then it fades away. It fades away because it is compose of what he called "not self." Desire is so powerful that it physically hurts. But, whatever the desire, it is an entirely impersonal energy that comes into awareness and fades from awareness without leaving a trace if, we do not identify if as "me.".
We don't have to fear any emotion that we don't personalize. We don't have to fear our desire and we don't have to fear our anger. We don't have to fear grief and we don't have to fear fear. We only need to be aware of it and learn to hold it all in a vast, healing space of awareness.
This is extremely simple. It is not at all easy. It is an amazing and a verifiable truth that fully felt emotion opens the gate to freedom. We must patiently learn to open this, gate over and over again but open it does -- each and every time.