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Lions Roar : November 2015
Although you might have many such glimpses, they usually are not all that stable. They tend to be not only brief but subtle, and because such glimpses are not all that graspable, self-doubt easily creeps back in. You are pretty sure you are onto something good, but maybe it’s too good to be true. At the same time, without your familiar masks and credentials, you feel a bit naked and groundless. The Path: Knowing, Accepting, Loving We began with a sense of our potential. Something very positive has provided our initial inspiration and gotten us started. It has awakened our innate instinct to grow. That positive vision has provided the ground, but it has also shaken things up. That glimpse of our potential has made it painfully evident how much we have shortchanged ourselves. The way our minds work is by opposites and contrast—good- bad, up-down, in-out, etc.—so glimpses of whole- someness simultaneously provide glimpses of the opposite. They heighten our feelings of self-doubt, confusion, and lack of genuineness. That poignant contrast is where the real work of friendship begins. As we practice, we uncover our layers and layers of ideas about ourselves. We uncover memories and hidden corners of our experience. We begin to come up against the limits of our love and friendship for ourselves, and for others as well. It is clear that we habitually compartmentalize ourselves, accepting some aspects of our experience and rejecting others. Some parts of us are so well hidden away that we can pretend they are not there at all. What friendship we have at this level is quite feeble. It relies on keeping up firewalls to prevent what we dislike or even hate about ourselves from creeping in. Friendship is reduced to a matter of like and dislike. As we see this in ourselves, we also begin to see the limited nature of our friendship with others. It might seem as if the way to cultivate greater friendship with ourselves, and in turn with oth- ers, would be to get rid of as many bad parts as possible. What is left is acceptable and good—it is friend-worthy. We think that if we edit out all our unworthy parts, it will solve the problem. But the real friendship we cultivate in meditation prac- tice is not a matter of like or dislike, and it is not based on getting rid of anything. Halfhearted friendship is quite fragile. We need to be on the defensive all the time. When we place all sorts of conditions on what or who is worthy of our love and friendship, our love easily flips into disappointment—or even hate—when those conditions are not met. The challenge of the path of meditation is to continually expand the bounds of our heart, the bounds of our love and friendship. We start with ourselves. By resting simply and looking inside, we touch in with what we actually feel about ourselves. We come up against our fear of opening up to the whole of our experience. We come up against our embarrassment and feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy. We also come up against our incredible arrogance, which is another manifesta- tion of our fear. And by taking an honest look at the kinds of thoughts and feelings we have, we learn a lot about the limits we place on our friendship with others. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 50