“… if, at the end of each day, someone were to play a video of you back to yourself and you could see it all you would wince quite often and say “Ugh!” You probably would see that you do all those things for which you criticize all those people you don’t like in your life, all those people you judge. Basically, making friends with yourself is making friends with all those people too, because when you come to have this kind of honesty, gentleness, and goodheartedness, combined with clarity about yourself, there’s no obstacle towards feeling loving-kindness towards others as well.”
~ Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron.
In my last post, I wrote about my confusion surrounding the Buddhist teaching of humbleness – specifically, the notion that you should always consider yourself lower than others. I understand that the premise of this teaching is that pride is a roadblock to happiness – pride is a gateway to arrogance, snobbery, and judgment of others. There is a fine line between valuing yourself and looking down on others. But, is placing no one below you the same as placing others above you? Or, put another way, does not thinking that you are “better” than others mean that you have to consider yourself as “less” than others? Well… of course not!
By not looking down on others, you recognize the importance of humbleness, respect and non-judgment, while [hopefully] extending that humbleness, respect, and non-judgment towards yourself. The more that you can come to love and accept yourself, the easier it is to accept others as they are. What typically triggers us to have a negative reaction towards someone is that they are a reflection of something that we don’t like about ourselves or are a reminder of a wound that we have not healed. So, the more you come to terms with yourself, your past, and your “story,” the easier it is to see yourself in others because you can remember being in a similar headspace, pattern of behavior, or drama as them. Through compassion comes love and kindness. Loving-kindness.
So, what is my solution to my issues with the Buddhist teaching of humbleness? I’ve decided to be a little more liberal in the way I internalize it and take it to mean that I shall not place myself above anyone. Does this mean that I have to be friends with everyone I cross? No. I try to obey the Law of Two Feet. But more about that another time.