The importance of loving yourself

I have been very drawn to Buddhism since a fateful day over two years ago [read about it here]. However, over the last month or so, I have begun to feel a disconnect from one of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism – humbleness. Time and time again I come across passages that I interpret as saying that I should take the lower seat, bow my head, and just bite my tongue. Then, in the middle of this week, I had the heart dropping realization that I’m not sure if I consider myself a Buddhist anymore. I came across the following passage in “The Eight Verses of Training the Mind”:

Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart

There it goes again. I should consider myself beneath everyone. The thing though is, I’ve also been reading other Eastern texts that teach that the cultivation of self-love is fundamental for the development of love for anything or anyone else. And the more I’ve practiced it, the more I see, feel and understand, the importance of trying to take that love that you have for that one thing you love more than anything else in the world, and trying to feel that same love for yourself. STOP. Think of that time you felt a very deep love for someone or something. Visualize and feel what you felt. Now take that feeling and turn it inwards. Powerful. Difficult. But empowering. The more you can come to peace with yourself, be kind to yourself, and treat yourself like you treat the one(s) you love the most, the easier it is to love others, because you start to develop a softness, a patience, a tolerance and a peace. So, given the importance of self-love, I can’t bring myself to align with a teaching that is telling me to put myself second.

Shortly after, I came across the following by Deepak Chopra that so eloquently put my feelings to words:

“… [Your true Self] is immune to criticism, it is unfearful of any challenge, and it feels beneath no one. And yet, it is also humble and feels superior to no one, because it recognizes that everyone is the same Self, the same spirit in different disguises.”  

If I see everyone as my equal, then that also makes me an equal. If I am an equal, I don’t put myself below anyone. And there it is. Does that mean I have to rethink how and what I think about Buddhism? Yes. But not in the way I expected. I’ll write about that Tuesday.

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