When I looked through the group’s list of 108 defilements, “self-hatred” sprang off the page. Over the years, my attitude towards practice has gradually shifted from “I practice because there’s something wrong with me and I need to fix it” to “I practice because I love and care about myself and others.”
From the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings, self-hatred is merely one aspect of the broader defilement of conceit. In the words of Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro from their book The Island:
“It should be noted from the first that the terms ‘conceives’ (maññati) and ‘conceit’ (mana) have a broader meaning in Pali than their usual English counterparts; e.g. from the Buddhist point of view ‘conception’ can be used to express the view that ‘I don’t exist,’ and perversely (to common English usage) one can hold the ‘conceit’ that ‘I am the worst person in the world.’ In the Pali scriptures there are numerous places where such qualities are described.” ~ The Island, Chapter 5, p. 87
Two examples from the Pali Canon quoted later in The Island:
“The (equality-) conceit (mana), the inferiority-conceit (omana), and the superiority-conceit (atimana): this threefold conceit should be overcome. That one who has overcome this threefold conceit, through the full penetration of conceit, is said to have put an end to suffering.” ~ Anguttara Nikaya 6.49
“One who conceives, ‘I am equal, better or worse,’
Might on that account engage in disputes.
But one not shaken in the three discriminations
Does not think, ‘I am equal or better,’”
~ Samyutta Nikaya 1.20
Before attending this week’s meditation group, you might consider the questions:
- What internal or external forces compel me to compare myself with others?
- In what areas of my life are such comparisons strongest?
- What is the effect of such comparisons?
- How have I found release from such conceit?
Those who want to study this topic in more detail could read Chapter 5 of The Island.
Looking forward to our discussion,