Loving, wise, and vital teachings for difficult times.
❤ MollyWe work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.
Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it's important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn't just ourselves that we're discovering. We're discovering the universe.
In tonglen practice, when we see or feel suffering, we breathe in with the notion of completely feeling it, accepting it, and owning it. Then we breathe out, radiating compassion, lovingkindness, freshness - anything that encourages relaxation and openness. So you're training in softening, rather than tightening, your heart. In this practice, it's not uncommon to find yourself blocked, because you come face to face with your own fear, resistance, or whatever your personal "stuckness" happens to be at that moment.
All the wars, all the hatred, all the ignorance in the world come out of being so invested in our opinions.
So war and peace start in the human heart. Whether that heart is open or whether that heart closes has global implications.
What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself.
Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears but rather from getting to know them well.
Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear.
Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it.
It's hard to know whether to laugh or to cry at the human predicament. Here we are with so much wisdom and tenderness, and—without even knowing it—we cover it over to protect ourselves from insecurity. Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.
We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.
Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away.
We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs - or we don't. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality- or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha's opinion, to train in staying open and curious - to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs - is the best use of our human lives.
There's nothing more important on our spiritual path than developing gentleness to oneself.
As our kindness for ourselves grows, so does our kindness for other people.
Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The Earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.
Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.
- Pema Chödrön