Incivility to Oneself
(As Korean Zen Master Seung Sahn use to say: “Bad Idea!”
In 1991, HH Dalai Lama asked a group of Buddhist students what in Buddhism helped the low self-esteem He had heard expressed by so many Westerners.
For in the orient, Buddhism tended to address overly inflated egoic expression.
An example of a culture promoting a healthy strong ego presence is when I once asked Dr. Lobsang Rapgay about mantras and children. He said that
“Eat my shit,” a back-off buster message… was what young children were taught as Buddhists understand that we are born with Buddha nature, a child is not lesser than – just inexperienced. I do not know if this approach was for girls as well, but I applied his logic for our two daughters and son. I did not teach them to tell people to “piss off.” But – that our authority as parents was not about us as parents being better or smarter – just more experienced.
But, why is it so different here? Why do we see a culture, especially a youth culture with so much angst, so much fear, self-loathing, so much uncertainty?
Here some of my thoughts on Causal Factors…
1. In the march of history, where the Bible and other wise books tell us that the sins of the fathers are inherited by their sons, i.e. future generations, we see, over the course of human activity, actions and results of power, avarice, greed, privilege – and all the disparities these create that lead to sickness, poverty, and warfare.
We think that those who perpetrate such and live in palaces and private islands have it made. But we ignore the karmic consequences that play out in terrible relationships, drug abuse, mental illness, and the feelings mentioned above.
During the Occupy Movement and Robert Thurman mentioned how he was raised and lived around the one percent. He said we really would not want their lives.
We feel these things. We know when our moral compass is askew. We may indulge in denial or seek absolution through religion or charitable acts. But these are really bandaids for a bleeding soul.
2. Our religiosity or ethos around original sin, our fall from grace vs. the Buddhist notion of us being nascent Buddhas endowed with basic goodness/loving nature, needing to work on transforming the 3 Poisons of Ignorance, Attachment, and Aggression.
The “sinner” approach creates rigid/linear boundaries where we even get cut off from ourselves whereas a Oneness perspective which sees personal growth and inclusivity as the only sustainable way of moving forward… This does not mean, however, the regret and remorse are not useful attitudes to exhibit when unskillful and harmful acts have been done.
The digital world and incessant stimulation of information, undigested thought and emotion – occupying our world 24/7, without stop. The result is that it is really difficult to know what is important, what we can ignore, even let go of.
Let’s look at our external world…
In a time which the Buddha Sakyamuni spoke of, we see and are in the midst of
- global pandemic
- acceleration of high intensity ecological calamities of biblical proportion in terms of tornadoes and hurricanes – the winds – floods, draughts, and rising seas, unprecedented fires and the resulting
- mass migrations – ecological and environmental refugees
- rise in xenophobic reactions to protect or hold onto the world the way it has actually never been and thus rise in
- violence and the proliferation of political refugees
And so, in the immensity of what we as spiritual beings having a human experience must accept, confront, transcend, and prevail – it is seemingly far easier to just get down on ourselves, beat ourselves up,
Which leads to, inevitably
Self loathing and
Spiritual listlessness, apathy, even laziness
In this psychically numb torpor, we can do things our healthy normal sense would not allow…
In Tantra – self denigration is a path to spiritual suicide
So, how do we challenge the habitual tendency to go down this path of incivility?
The Buddha taught the 4 thoughts that Revolutionize the Mind…
Precious human birth
Karma – what we do makes a difference
Not squandering our God given potentials which we have, since beginningless time…
As dear Dharma friend, Stephen Levine use to say…
Show yourself some mercy
In that softer, more open heart space,
Learn to see your shortcomings as opportunities for growth
When you think of extending kindness to others, from a Oneness perspective, you are one of them! And, there IS really no THEY!