September 8, 2011

Don't Turn Self-reflection into a Way to Beat Yourself Up!

Pema Chodron: "Compassion toward yourself is something worth exploring more... Without self-compassion or some kind of loving-kindness toward oneself, nothing is ever going to happen on the spiritual path. It will never get of the ground.

I learned in teaching people that almost anything you say to them can get twisted into something they use against themselves: "Oh I can't do that. I'm not good enough to do that."...When they look into themselves, they find impatience, bad tempers, and lots of right and wrong.

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, the teacher I am studying with right now, says that in order to progress along the spiritual path, you need to be able to self-reflect, to really look at yourself honestly. He says that's where most Western people get stopped right away. They sit down, they start to meditate, then they begin to self-reflect and to see clearly their habitual patterns, thoughts, and emotions. Then everything is immediately twisted into self-loathing, self-disapproval, or self-denigration. Consequently he teaches a lot about guiltlessness. He discusses the poison of guilt and how it never lets you grow. When you are guilty, you can never go any further. Somehow for self-reflection to work, there has to be a lot of emphasis on loving-kindness and friendliness toward yourself. But that doesn't mean self-indulgence.

You find that out through self-reflection, but if it twists, and you use what you see against yourself, you will lose track and get angry at yourself without noticing it anymore: 'How could I even consider myself a meditator or a Buddhist? I've been meditating now for fifteen years and look at me! I still have this bad temper and all the other stuff!!' You need to be kind as you look at yourself and not let it turn into loathing."

Excerpt from an interview with Pema Chodron and Jack Kornfield in Buddahdharma

For more in-depth dharma articles and instruction, visit:  METTA REFUGE

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