February 19

Today's quotation:

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves. . . . is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.

Pema Chödrön

Today's Meditation:

Honestly and gently.  What nice words.  In contrast to the positive tone of these words, how many people look at themselves harshly and critically?  Can you see the difference in just the words used to describe the two approaches, much less the difference between the actions themselves?

If we're to be people who are helpful and useful to other people, we must have courage and respect for ourselves.  Otherwise what we offer to others in our selves is less than we have the potential to be.  Sure, we can rationalize that by being critical of ourselves we can improve ourselves, but there's far too much documented evidence of that approach being ineffective for us to believe it if we're being honest.

And being honest doesn't mean just looking at and for our faults.  Being honest means looking at the whole person and acknowledging what is there, living in awareness of who we are and what we do.  If we don't like what we see we can change; if we like what we see we can continue what we're doing and how we're doing it.

If we aren't honest with ourselves, we remain ignorant of who we truly are and what we're truly capable of.  Be courageous, and be aware.  Be honest and be gentle.  Be you, and be proud of who you are.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of factors keep us from looking honestly at ourselves?

Are you fully aware of your own attitudes and opinions and their sources?  Of what about yourself are you ignorant?

Why are some people unwilling or unable to look at themselves honestly and courageously?

For further thought:

We usually look outside ourselves for heroes and teachers.  It has not occurred to most people that they may already be the role model they seek.  The wholeness they are looking for may be trapped within themselves by beliefs, attitudes, and self-doubt.  But our wholeness exists in us now.  Trapped though it may be, it can be called upon for guidance, direction, and most fundamentally, comfort.  It can be remembered.  Eventually we may come to live by it.

Rachel Naomi Remen

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