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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

our own best friends

best friends2Here’s the thing, folks: who is your best friend? Who do you trust? Who has your back? And who — within broad limits — will you forgive almost anything?

If you yourself aren’t on that list, welcome to adulthood. And how sad is THAT?

Buddhism talks alot about knowing your own self. There’s a meme going around FB lately, that quotes Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk, on self-knowledge:

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If you wish to see the Buddha,
You must look into your own inner-nature;
This nature is the Buddha himself.
If you have not seen your own nature,
What is the use of thinking of Buddha,
Or reciting sutras, or fasting, or keeping precepts?
By thinking of Buddha, your meritorious deed will bear fruit;
By reciting sutras, you may attain a bright intellect;
By keeping the precepts, you may be born into heavens;
By practicing charity, you may be rewarded abundantly;
But as to seeking Buddha, you are far away.     ~ Bodhi-Dharma (d.533…?)

Bodhidharma, woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, 1887.

Bodhidharma, woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, 1887.

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The reason is that if we know ourselves, and can find it in ourselves to accept with compassion our own natures, then we can love each other. We can act from and with love.

And as a friend of mine replied, when I posted this, Why does he have to hang out in such a scary place?

Because it’s soooo hard to love ourselves.  I have many many friends & colleagues who seem utterly incapable of recognising the talents, skills, gifts, beauty I see in them. They struggle with deep feelings of inadequacy, even though they are some of the most productive (and empathetic) men & women I know. Since many — if not most — of them are teachers, this time of year is particularly devastating. It’s virtually impossible to give support, attention, & affirmation to others when you’re at ground zero yourself.

Today, take a moment to remember: you know yourself better than you know anyone. And as I told a dear friend recently? Look for what your friends see in you, and honour their perceptions. In other words, treat yourself as gently and kindly as you would a friend. I guarantee that if you make a habit of it, it will change your life.

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