(Bodhicaryavatara chapter 3)
In the spiritual energy that relieves
The anguish of beings in misery and
Places depressed beings in eternal joy
I lift up my heart and rejoice.
The goal of Buddhist practice is to find our true Self. This body, our form, our name, this life… Is only a grain of sand in the vast ocean of our Buddha Nature. Who were we before we were John Doe? Who will we be after John Doe? Our present form is simply a perception of our minds. Our true Self, the Buddha we will all become is hidden behind a dirty mirror.
Our mind is a mirror. We have a mirror mind. It’s all fogged up like the foggy mirror after we get out of a hot shower. Behind this foggy mirror is our true Self. The fog represents our ignorance, greed, and anger – the poisons that keep us from discovering our true Selves. To clean this mirror we might use the wet towel we just dried off with, but the towel barely cleaned the mirror. The mirror is still foggy, and now streaky with little fuzzies from the towel. So then we try to use our hand, but still it only took away some of the fogginess and the fuzzies. Our hand cleaned it up a little bit and we can begin to see a shape that is us. So then you use the hand towel to wipe away some more. The mirror is free of fogginess, but now it’s streaky and not completely clean. Now you can at least see if there’s any soap left in your hair. Your form is starting to look familiar but not completely clear. Finally, you use a window cleaner and a paper towel to clean off the mirror.
The mirror is now completely crystal clear and you can see all your pores and white hairs. You’ve found yourself. Likewise, to find our true Selves, you must work to clear the fogginess of our ignorance, greed, and anger from our mind. It takes effort and resources to clear away the fog, but in the end, the benefit is total freedom… Liberation. Buddhism gives us the tools and resources to reach our liberation. It is our job to make the effort, determination, and motivation to use the tools and resources. Otherwise we will always be looking at a foggy mirror; wondering who is behind it.
Smile and be well!
Question: “How can I learn to love myself? I have a low self esteem and I’m insecure and I feel like I’m not worth anyone’s time. This causes a lot of problems for me.”
I know the feeling. I think everyone goes through this at least once in their life. Everyone gets out of this rut differently. For me it was coming to the conclusion of, “Who gives a shit?!” I looked upon these feelings and concerns and then looked at the concerns of others in the world, and thought to myself, “wow, I feel bad because I look at myself and see nothing, but there are kids in third-world countries who are starved, diseased, and people looking at them in disgust, and I’m worried about myself?”
This was a few years ago and not long after my realization that I came to another realization of this “self,” this body I call my own, this body that’s been called this name all my life.
You can ask yourself, “Why do I care?” Why do you care? Are you not getting enough attention? Do you look like a stereotypical wicked witch? Are you being a cry baby because no one is stroking your ego? What is it? What is making your not love yourself, what’s giving you low self-esteem and insecurity? Meditate on that. Psychologically, it’s usually because of your egotism, low caring parents growing up, or some other traumatic life event.
In Buddhism, it’s important to love yourself. Because that’s the only way you can love and help others. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, how can you help others find their own confidence? And that’s the key word here: confidence. You have to have confidence in yourself, you have to believe in yourself.
Whatever you can do to help yourself, do it. I put sticky notes on my bathroom mirror with inspirational quotes, or words or phrases like, “Beautiful,” “wake up,” “everything happens for a reason,” “you are your own happiness.” Whatever you have to do to remind yourself to smile and laugh, do it. There’s no such thing as having low self-esteem and being insecure. Why have it? What and how is that benefiting you? It’s not.
The Buddha didn’t sit under his Bodhi tree and tell himself, “Ah man, I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know if I can reach enlightenment. I’m not sure if I’m capable and worth it.” No! The Buddha sat under that tree, touched the earth and made a vow, “As Earth as my witness, I vow to sit under this tree until I am enlightened!” He had confidence! He knew no matter what demons haunted him or what the other ascetics said about his path, he knew, he had confidence, that he would find the truth. And you must do the same!
Smile and be well!
Questions: “How rebirth takes place? What is the connection between the present annihilation of body and future rebirth? What is the basis of this connection? My gratitudes for answering my questions?”
I’m going to answer this question with relation to your other question that seems to be asking roughly the same thing (Q: Does self have the choice of not taking birth in any life forms in the first instance, rather than work around the karmas for liberation from cycle of birth and rebirth.).
Question: “Can knowledge only liberate? I like reading books on spirituality, buddhism and other philosophical subject. But still i feel i am missing something in life.”
Knowledge can only do so much for us. If you’re simply reading without practicing, then you’re just a scholar; you know all the information, but you don’t really know how it works. In Buddhism, the way you liberate yourself is through practice. Regular meditation, practicing loving-compassion and loving-kindness, and using the knowledge you read will lead you to the wisdom of Enlightenment!
Question: “When i’m in a small group of people and I try to add to the conversation, I sometimes feel as though i’m being ignored because people don’t seem to listen to what I have to say. I feel as though my conversation isn’t wanted and all I should be doing is listening to their ego projecting in my ears. I’m not allowed to speak or be heard. I’m suppose to just listen. This makes me angry and i’m just wondering how to deal with one way conversers.”
You say you have to sit and listen to their ego projecting in your ears, but then again it is your ego that’s causing you to suffer and become angry. Why is egolessness so important in Buddhism? Because it’s the one thing that will hold us back from attaining Enlightenment. With ego we become ignorant, attached, and greedy – these are poisons that we must find an antidote in order to liberate ourselves.
Question: “Being in a family life, taking care of family can still someone aspire to become a boddhisattva. Family life is full of affliction of desire, attachment, wants etc.”
Of course! You can aspire to become a Buddha and be the father of a household of twenty people! But the keyword here is aspire! Many texts say it’s important and even required to renounce and emancipate your current life in order to find true liberation. But because we probably won’t find liberation or get to the level of Bodhisattva in this life, we can at least set the foundations and create the path towards it for our future lives.
I don’t have many desires or attachments, but that doesn’t mean I would find liberation before you. Your Buddha Nature is just as equal as mine. You might be surrounded by all these distractions, whereas I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I’m better than you. You could be a better practitioner than I am, maybe you have more virtuous merits than I do – so as long as you aspire and KNOW that you will find liberation, you will become a Buddha one day, that’s all that matters.
All you can do is practice. If you have a local or nearby temple you can go to, visit often and attend their services. Temple is the one place (for me at least) where you can go and forget about all your worldly problems and just be at peace for a couple of hours. By regularly practicing meditation, you can learn to handle and ease the emotions that might arise by all the afflictions, desires, and attachments that surround you.
Smile and be well!