Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are. — Pema Chödrön
When people start to meditate or work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I could get a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that they find fault with others; they might say, “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.”
But loving-kindness — maitri — toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.
Excerpt from The Wisdom of No Escape and also published in our Pema Chödrön 2017 wall calendar.
Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun and one of the foremost students of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the renowned Tibetan meditation master. She is resident teacher of Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners. Chödrön is widely regarded as one of the preeminent spiritual teachers in the West and is the author of many best-selling books, including When Things Fall Apart, The Places That Scare You, and Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. For more information, please visit her website.
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