Someone went to a Zen master and said: “I have a big problem.” The Zen master asked: “Well, what is your big problem?” “My big problem is that I get angry”. “So”, the Zen master replied, “where is your anger now?” Of course, the anger was not there. The Zen master continued: “If it is your anger, you should be able to produce it!”
This brings up an important perspective: the realisation that our emotions don’t really belong to us. Because we have a strong sense of ownership, we think we own things, we also think that we own these emotions. This is my anger, this is my fear. Of course, what you own, what you think you own, you don’t want to give up.
The Buddhist perspective here is that emotions are empty of a separate self. There is no real owner. All things arise due to causes and conditions and all things pass away due to causes and conditions. This idea is also presented in the Buddha’s teaching in another way, which I like very much. One can treat these monsters, or even pleasant emotions, as our visitors, our guests. We are the host, and as a good host we should be open to any visitor who comes. When visitors come, as a good host we are not surprised, rather we are friendly and we welcome the visitors. When they leave we just say, “Bye-bye, please come back again”. This sounds very simple. When the visitor comes, when the visitor stays, when the visitor goes, the host remains the same: no problem. Just visitors coming, visitors going. This brings up the Buddhist perspective of impermanence: everything changes, there is coming and going, going and coming.