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Lions Roar : November 2015
try to look the right way, say the right words, be with the right people, do the right things. Because of our inner poverty mentality and self-doubt, we need constant reassurance. People like me, so I must be worthy. I am a good student, so I must be okay. I have a lot of success, so I must be worthy, even special. But our feeling of hollowness doesn’t go away. Some people think the answer to this is to build people up, praising them for every little thing, and trying to convince them that they are good. The idea is that if we keep hearing that we are okay, we will begin to believe it. This approach is a good starting point, and it is certainly bet- ter than always hearing about how bad we are. The problem is that it can lead to a situation where on top of feeling bad about ourselves, we also have the pressure of trying to feel good, or at least pretending to. Basically, no matter how skillful we are at juggling our vari- ous masks, the juggling act is fundamentally dissatisfying. There are masks we like and those we don’t, but as to the mask wearer—who we are beneath all that—we are clueless. Strangely, although you are your most intimate companion, you are in some ways the most hidden from yourself. So the process of making friends with yourself goes hand in hand with getting to know yourself at a deeper level. To truly make friends with yourself, you need to go through a process of getting to know this mask wearer—the one without any mask. The journey of truly making friends with yourself is quite a radical one. It goes beyond simply feeling good about yourself, and it is not based on convincing yourself of anything or being convinced of anything by others. This journey of deep friendship does not rely on credentials or affirmations, but on a tender step-by-step process of opening. It’s not as if you finally figure yourself out and that’s it. This deepen- ing of self-knowledge and friendship continues. It is a natural unfolding. Here is how it happens on the path of meditation. As Trungpa Rinpoche said, friendship with yourself is both the basis and goal of meditation practice. Here is how it unfolds accord- ing to the traditional Buddhist logic of ground, path, and fruition. The Ground: A Glimpse of Possibility You start your journey to this kind of friendship the moment you first decide to meditate. Something has inspired you to remove yourself for periods of time from the everyday world, where there is so much pressure to constantly prove yourself to others and yourself. You have made the choice to see what it is like to sit sim- ply and alone with nothing to do and no one to impress. This step is all about curiosity, inquisitiveness, and the longing to meet yourself at a deeper level. It is based on a sus-