Update on the Atlas of Emotions

From the Office of the Dalia Lama Website

February 23rd 2016

Rochester, Minnesota, USA, 22 February 2016 – Dr Eve Ekman visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Rochester today to report on progress that has been made on the Atlas of Emotions project begun by her father Paul Ekman. She explained that although the main way for the public to access the Atlas will be online, she had brought a printed copy for His Holiness’s convenience. She told him that the aim of the project continues to be helping people and advancing science.

Leafing through the Atlas Dr Ekman and His Holiness discussed different emotions such as fear, which she said is the emotion most associated with stress, sadness and anger. His Holiness remarked:

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“Anger is something negative, but it can bring a source of energy to bear on a particular situation. That energy can be transformed into something positive, but I don’t know if anger itself can ever be positive.”

Dr Ekman replied that we can ask whether, when anger arises, there are any constructive choices to be made.

In the context of emotions, His Holiness also mentioned the difference between sensory and cognitive experience.

Dr Ekman asked His Holiness, “What’s the next step? How can we help people?” He told her that just as cold is dispelled by heat, its opposite, anger and loving-kindness counter one another. “What people need to do is to learn how to counter their various emotions. Distraction is just a temporary measure. The longer standing remedy is, for example, to be able to see positive qualities in something or someone you otherwise see as negative. Since there is rarely any justification for destructive emotions, people need to become more aware of the causes of their emotions and how to apply antidotes to them.”

His Holiness suggested that the work that has been done so far on the ‘Atlas of Emotions’ be considered as a draft of a work in progress. He recommended that it be made available to interested and concerned persons whose comments and input could be sought, collated and taken into account. Dr Ekman agreed that this could be done through the internet, where it is soon to be launched.

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