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Lions Roar : November 2015
putting others down. We need to seriously question what is harmful and what is ben- eficial. In my own experience, I have found that employing a self-centered approach and being constantly on the defensive are not helpful. Rather than reinforcing our “me-ness” and justifying ourselves constantly, we should base our lives on something more powerful and trustworthy. If we develop real trust in ourselves, constant self-defense is no longer required. That may sound good, but what are we going to trust in ourselves? To begin with, we need to look within ourselves. When we look, what do we see? Ask yourself: Is there something worthwhile and trust- worthy in me? Of course there is! But it’s so simple that we tend to miss it or discount it. When we look into ourselves we tend to fixate on our neurosis, restlessness, and aggression. Or we might fixate on how wonderful, accomplished, and invulnerable we are, but those feelings are usually superficial, covering up our insecurities. Take a look. There is something else, something more than all that. We are will- ing: willing to wait, willing to smile, willing to be decent. We shouldn’t discount that potential, that powerful seed of gentleness. Even the most vicious animals possess natural affection and gentleness for their young. That element of gentleness exists in every being. We don’t have to be embarrassed about it or try to hide it. We don’t need to cast ourselves as bad boys and girls or as heroines or tough guys. We can afford to acknowledge and cultivate gentleness and, first of all, to treat ourselves better. It is worth appreciating ourselves, having affection for ourselves, and taking care of ourselves. Genuineness, goodness, and appreciation are extraordinary gifts. Ulti- mately, that is where we place our trust. This truth is so true that we don’t have to pretend at all. It is real. Every one of us is capable of loving ourselves. We are also capable of falling in love. We are capable of kissing our loved ones. We are capable of extending our arm to shake hands. We may offer a meal to someone, welcoming him or her to the table, saying, “Hello. How are you?” We are capable of these simple things. We’ve been per- forming such ordinary acts of kindness for a long time. Generally we don’t make a big deal about this capability, but in some sense we should. We should celebrate or at least acknowledge our capacity for simple acts of generosity and gentleness. They are the real thing, and in the end they are much more powerful and transformative than aggression, egomania, and hatred. When you appreciate yourself, you realize that you don’t have to feel wretched or condemned. You don’t have to artificially puff yourself up, either. You discover your basic dignity, which comes along with gentleness. You have always possessed this, but you may never have recognized it before. You don’t have to be an egomaniac to appreciate yourself. In fact, you appreciate yourself more when you are free of the ugliness of that egotism, which is actually based on self-hatred. Look in the mirror. Appreciate yourself. You look beautiful in a simple, humble way. When you choose your clothes, when you comb your hair, when you take a shower, you are expressing an element of complete and fundamental goodness, wake- fulness, and decency. There is an alternative to feeling condemned. You actually can make friends with yourself. ♦ Adapted from Mindfulness in Action: Making Friends with Yourself through Meditation and Everyday Awareness, by Chögyam Trungpa, with permission from Shambhala Publications. Paintings used by permis- sion of Diana J. Mukpo. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 69