We are returning to our exploration of Thupten Jinpa’s book A Fearless Heart. This week (and next) we’ll discuss chapter 2, the relationship between self compassion and self acceptance. According to Dr. Jinpa’s research we all gravitate towards other people’s kindness; that self compassion (kindness) is necessary for the prevention of many serious illnesses and that the lack of self compassion makes a big difference in our lives. He adds that from a Buddhist perspective, self preservation, self care and self love are fundamental instincts of every sentient being. Self compassion is so tied to self acceptance that without both, neither are possible.
We will center our discussion this week around the 1st half of the chapter which basically explains what self compassion is and what it is not. Self compassion is not self centeredness, which leaves no room for a connection with others. It is not self pity which is simply feeling sorry for ourselves; nor is it self gratification which simply feeds our habitual and cyclical impulse to treat ourselves and then beat ourselves up for the treat. Finally, self compassion is not self esteem which is based upon a kind of evaluation or achievement.
I can’t stress how important this book is at creating an expansive heart. Nearly every sentence creates an “oh, I understand” moment. For instance, Dr. Jinpa noted how confident and together we look in the West and yet if we were to take a deeper look, we would see that there is self hatred and loathing at the core of many of our lives. This is something that is often said about the West and this self hatred may seem to you (as it did to me) to be in conflict with a sense of self compassion. According to Dr. Jinpa, however, self hatred is rooted in our self caring instinct. It comes from caring a lot but being unable to accept or forgive our imperfections. What this says to me is that self acceptance is 100% within our own capacity and not dependent upon others or conditions. Beautiful!!!