Compassion and self-love are fundamental themes in religion and spirituality. Jesus spoke of two commandments: Love yourself and Love others as you love yourself. Buddhists talk of Maitri, a loving kindness towards oneself that awakens a fearlessly compassionate attitude toward your own path and that of others.
Okay. I get it. I’m supposed to not just like myself, which I do on good days. I’m supposed to looove myself.
But let’s face the truth. Some days it’s not easy.
I know my own faults better than anyone; my messy thoughts and feelings; my shameful actions and in-actions; my oh-so-human frailties. But they say I should love myself anyway. Unconditional self-love.
“…when we buy into disapproval, we are practicing disapproval. When we buy into harshness, we are practicing harshness. The more we do it, the stronger these qualities become. How sad it is that we become so expert at causing harm to ourselves and others. The trick then is to practice gentleness…” Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p.29)
“Every act counts. Every thought and emotion counts too. This is all the path we have.” (Ibid,. p. 141)
Three practical ways of dealing with chaos: First, “Slow down enough to just be present, let go of the multitude of judgments and schemes , and stop struggling. Second, … take a different attitude towards suffering. Instead of pushing it away, we can breathe it in with the wish that everyone could stop hurting, with the wish that people everywhere could experience contentment in their hearts. We could transform pain into joy. Third, we can acknowledge that suffering exists, that darkness exists. The chaos…is basic energy, the play of wisdom. Whether we regard our situation as heaven or as hell depends on our perception. Finally, …relax and lighten up … cultivate a sense of humor and practice giving ourselves a break.” (Ibid., p. 126)
I understand, gentle, unconditional love for oneself flows into love for others and through it a deep and true compassion, a compassion that can change the world
I love the theory, but it’s a hard practice.
What do you think?