I have been asked the same question lately. “How do I deal with strong emotions regarding (fill in the blank).” The current volatility of things like political ideology and environmental concern is surfacing some very strong feelings. I have addressed dealing with emotions and habitual thoughts in my recent Dharma Journal entries, but maybe I can put a different spin on it by returning to the foundation of Buddha’s teaching.

It is always good to revisit the basics, regardless of whether we are new or seasoned practitioners. Sometimes we forget that everything is the same. I repeat, all our issues are the same because they all originate in the mind. In the Dhammapada, a record of Buddha’s early teachings, he says:

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with an unsettled mind,
And suffering follows
As the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

All experience is preceded by mind,
Led by mind,
Made by mind.
Speak or act with a peaceful mind,
And happiness follows
Like a never-departing shadow.

This couplet from the “twin verses” section refers to two things. One aspect pertains to the mind defining what we experience based on the projections of our mental habits. The other notes that the quality of our experience is determined by those same habits. In other words, the mind determines what we experience and how we experience it. Therefore, the resolution of any experience—good, bad, or indifferent—begins by settling the mind. All meditation techniques are designed to help us accomplish this.

I find it helpful to remember every one of our issues arises from the same source and is resolved in the same way. If we act with an unsettled mind, we will have unsettling experiences. If we act with a settled mind, all our experiences will be more peaceful. Enough said.