May 27, 2009
this is not an improvement plan
When people start to meditate or to 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.
This is not an improvement plan; it is not a situation in which you try to be better than you are now. If you have a bad temper and you feel that you harm yourself and others, you might think that sitting for a week or a month will make your bad temper go away – you will be that sweet person that you always wanted to be. Never again will a harsh word leave your lily-white lips. The problem is that the desire to change is fundamentally a form of aggression toward yourself. The other problem is that our hang-ups, unfortunately or fortunately, contain our wealth. Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you also throw out your wisdom. Someone who is very angry also has a lot of energy; that energy is what’s so juicy about him or her. That’s the reason people love that person. The idea isn’t to try to get rid of your anger, but to make friends with it, to see it clearly with precision and honesty, and also to see it with gentleness. That means not judging yourself as a bad person, but also not bolstering yourself by saying, “It’s good that I’m angry at them all the time”. The gentleness involves not repressing the anger but also not acting it out. It is something much softer and more openhearted than any of that. It involves learning how, once you have fully acknowledged the feeling of anger and the knowledge of who you are and what you do, to let it go. You can let go of the usual pitiful little story line that accompanies anger and begin to see clearly how you keep the whole thing going. So whether it’s anger or craving or jealousy or fear or depression – whatever it might be – the notion is not to try to get rid of it, but to make friends with it. that means getting to know it completely, with some kind of softness, and learning how, once you’ve experienced it fully, to let go.
Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)
Illustration from the site Beauty Analysis, on the article Faces Variations by Sex; to see and read more on this -- and find how perfect you already are, no matter what -- please refer to: