We will finish up with Chapter 2 this week by taking a closer look at the costs and benefits of self compassion. Dr. Jinpa has a unique way of making the most routine and/or complex concepts interesting and clear. For instance, it doesn’t take much awareness to recognize that contemporary capitalist cultures promote individualism. We cut the ties of interdependency in order to live in the “every man for himself” world, convinced that this is the way to success and happiness. Jinpa points out how natural this is. I know because I spent 25 years as a prosecuting attorney believing that I alone was responsible for my success or failure. This makes sense, if you’re part of the wealthy, so-called successful class, because you don’t have to worry about the difficulties of others draining your bank account. But for most of us (including me), individualism creates a continuous loop between obsessing over our accomplishments (worthiness) and worrying anxiously over not measuring up (unworthiness). We get trapped, unable to let go of the grip of this loop for fear we will end up being a total failure.
Dr. Jinpa is talking about the fundamental principle of the clinging/grasping nature of the self that we have been exploring for quite awhile. He says there are two – what I’ll call – gages to the cultivation or emergence of self compassion, (1) how we define ourselves as individuals and (2) the sense of connection we have with others. The more individualized we are, the weaker our connection is with others. Moreover, this lack of connection with other ends up creating a lack of connection with ourselves. The less of a connection we have with ourselves the harsher and more judgmental our relationship with self. In contrast, the stronger our connection to other, the more we see how natural and human our difficulties are and the less effect those difficulties have on our overall life journey. This kinder relationship with difficulties enables us to have greater self acceptance – and thereby, stronger self compassion.
Dr. Jinpa noted 4 benefits associated with self compassion. First, it renews our resources. It is like having a rechargeable inner battery. Self compassion is the energy source of that recharging. Second, it enables us to set realistic goals because we take our true needs and well-being into consideration. Third, we learn from our experiences allowing us to become more resilient. And finally, we feel less alone and have a sense of being connected to a larger community. This is exactly how I feel about our sangha. It doesn’t matter how I feel when I come in the room, I always leave grateful, recharged, more resilient and connected to a larger community. See you Thursday.
With a deep bow…