with the Heart of a Buddha
by Tara Brach
From the book jacket:
"Believing that something is wrong with us is a deep and tenacious suffer," says Tara Brach at the start of this illuminating book. This suffering emerges in crippling self-judgments and conflicts in our relationships, in addictions and perfectionism, in loneliness and overwork - all the forces that keep our lives constricted and unfulfilled. Radical Acceptance offers a path to freedom, including the day-to-day practical guidance develped over Dr Brach's twenty years of work with therapy clients and Buddhist students.
"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging." Mother Teresa
Wanting and fearing are natural energies, part of evolution's design to protect us and help us thrive. But when they become the core of our identity, we lose sight of the fullness of our being.
...Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being "without anxiety about imperfection." This means accepting our human existence and all of life as it is. Imperfection is not our personal problem - it is a natural part of existing.
"We must plant ourselves again in the universe." D.H. Lawrence
Without judging yourself, simply become aware of how you are relating to your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviors. As the trance of unworthiness becomes conscious, it begins to lose its power over our lives.
The way out of our cage begins with 'accepting absolutely everything' about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.
Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.
"Don't turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you." Rumi
By accepting the truth of change, accepting that we don't know how our life will unfold, we open ourselves to hope so that we can move forward with vitality and will.
...psychologist Carl Jung describes the spiritual path as an unfolding into 'wholeness'.
"There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle." Storm Jameson
When we pause, we don't know what will happen next. But by disrupting our habitual behaviors, we open to the possibility of new and creative ways of responding to our wants and fears.
In the midst of a pause, we are giving room and attention to the life that is always streaming through us, the life that is habitually overlooked.
Yes is an inner practice of acceptance in which we willingly allow our thoughts and feelings to naturally arise and pass away.
"A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously...your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you." Thich Nhat Hanh
When we put down ideas of what life should be like, we are free to wholeheartedly say yes to our life as it is.
Being alive includes feeling pain, sometimes intense pain.
"Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional." anonymous
"When the resistance is gone, the demons are gone." Pema Chodron
"We have to face the pain we have been running from. In fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us." Charlotte Joko Beck
Fear is the anticipation of future pain.
In order to embark on a spiritual path we need faith that our own heart and mind have the potential to awaken.
The Buddha taught that our fear is great, but greater still is the truth of our connectedness.
"We have been raised to fear...our deepest cravings. And the fear of our deepest cravings keeps them suspect, keeps us docile and loyal and obedient, and leads us to settle for...many facets of our own oppression." Audre Lorde
"True love and prayer are learned in the hour where prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone." Thomas Merton
Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.
"Prayer is the voice of longing; it reaches outwards and inwards to unearth our ancient belonging." John O'Donohue
Whenever we feel closed down, hurt or unforgiving, by simply breathing in and gently touching the rawness of our pain, we can begin to transform our suffering into compassion.
"I live my life in widening circles
That reach out across the world.
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it." Ranier Maria Rilke
Each person is precious, each person is fragile, each person matters.
The most fully we offer our attention, the more deeply we realize that what matters most in life is being kind.
"Is there a greater miracle than to see through another's eyes, even for an instant?" Thoreau
"We can do no great things - only small things with great love." Mother Teresa
Trungpa...says that the essence of human bravery is "refusing to give up on anyone or anything."
"There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it." Romaine Rolland
No matter what appears - burning rage, gnawing anxiety, cruel thoughts or utter despondency - by offering forgiveness directly to each, we give permission of our inner life to be as it is. Rather than forgiving a 'self', we forgive the experience we are identified with.
Forgiving ourselves is a process that continues through our whole life...With each round of freeing ourselves through forgiveness, we strengthen our recognition of our basic goodness.
If we feel hatred toward anyone, we remain chained to the sufferings of the past and cannot find genuine peace. We forgive for the freedom of our own heart.
We forget that every person, including ourselves, is new every moment.
Everybody just wants to be loved.
"One moment of unconditional love may call into question a lifetime of feeling unworthy and invalidate it." Rachel Naomi Remen
"Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable. This is true." Thomas Merton.
...no matter how much we meditate or pray, we still need others to help us dismantle the walls of our isolation and remind us of our belonging. Remembering that we are connected to others and our world is the essence of healing.
We are wounded in relationships, and we need to heal in relationship.
We are social beings - we eat, sleep, work, love, heal, fulfill ourselves and awaken each other. Even when we are completely alone, we carry within us the sense of whom we belong with and our concerns about how others regard us. Feeling the care of others allows us...to awaken from (the) trance and become whole. All of our relationships have the potential to nourish this flowering, whether they are with teachers, therapists, colleagues, family or friends. ...this is our sangha, and it encompasses the whole web of conscious relationships within which we heal and awaken.
"There is sitting meditation. There is walking meditation. Why not listening and speaking meditation? Isn't it sensible that one could practice mindfulness in relationship and so get better at it?" Gregroy Kramer
"When we recognize the spark of God in others, we blow on it with our attention and strengthen it. No matter how deeply it has been buried or for how long... When we bless someone, we touch the unborn goodness in them and wish it well." Rachael Naomi Remen
Although scriptures guide us and practices focus and quiet us...the living experience of love reveals our intrinsic wholeness and radiance.
Realizing the truth of belonging, that we are all suffering and awakening together on the path, is the most powerful antidote to personal feelings of unworthiness.