Buddhism can sometimes seem very hard on the ego, or as Jetsumna puts it, “it’s the most ego bashing religion going.” Yet it is not more spiritual to be self-negative. This increases our low self esteem and sense of inferiority which is the opposite direction we are trying to go.
“We need a happy strong well balanced sense of self in order to transcend the self.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo
It is useful to keep in mind that we live in our heart/minds and we are wanting to make them nice places to live. These practices are designed to heal our inner world and with time our psychic landscape becomes more joyful, peaceful and happy.
Without the good companion of ourselves the path will be too difficult.
“If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love others.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo
Jetsumna shared that both pride and low self esteem are ego games because they are in the play of measuring ourselves against others. Even assuming ourselves as equal to everyone is a math trick. The key practice is getting the hell out of the way which we discuss in Verse 2 of Eight Trainings of the Mind.
“Low self esteem is not a spiritual quality.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo
Jetsumna told the story of how surprised the Dali Lama was to learn of the Western condition of low self esteem, self doubt and self hatred. He was at a conference when a neuroscientist asked about the problem. After the translator was able to explain the question to the His Holiness, the Dali Lama’s answer was, “Yes, but very rare.” The scientist turned to his colleagues and asked if anyone had ever suffered self hatred and they all raised their hands. We are a paradox in the West. We exhibit so much confidence as we charge around the world telling others what to do and yet underneath we are so fragile.
She told another story of everyone’s amazement with the Tibetan refugees suffering so greatly and continuing to have such “inner certainty.” Self confidence is essential on this path.
“We can never go anywhere unless we believe we have a good chance of getting there.” ~ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo
Be aware that “the ego is perfectly happy being miserable because if we are miserable, we are thinking me, me, me, me.”
We need to appreciate the goodness in ourselves. As these practices help us weed out our negative emotions, we must also encourage and cultivate the good flowers.