Buddhism: How to Make Friends with Yourself. Maitri:

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Let’s focus on the important things: making friends with ourself, so that we can be of benefit to others, and our beleaguered planet.

maitri compassion selfcare

In this Photoshop Culture, there is a tonic, or antidote, to wanting to be other than we are. It’s called maitri (click below for more). It’s called unconditional friendliness toward ourselves. It’s simple. It’s hard. ~ ed.

Unconditional friendliness toward ourself: Maitri.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha [Corrected, read here for more precise meaning]

Love Yourself. For my friend Leah (and my other lovely friends who are dreamers, and doers, but have not yet quite harnessed both together). And, for you. ~ ed.

No different, really —
a summer firefly’s
visible burning
and this body,
transformed by love.

~ Izumi Shikibu

Learning to be Alone.
pema maitri quote buddhism

This particular teaching on the Four Limitless Ones, on maitri, compassion, joy and equanimity is really a teaching on how to take the situations of your life and train—actually train—in catching yourself closing down, catching yourself getting hard, and training in opening at that very point, or softening.

In some sense reversing a very, very old pattern of our whole species, which is a pattern of armoring ourselves. It’s like the essence of our whole path is in that place of discomfort, and what do we do with it? ~ Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron, on Maitri.

“…There was a story about the Zen master Suzuki Roshi.

This was a situation where his students had been sitting and they were 3 or 4 hours into a very hard sitting period, a sesshin. The person who told the story said every bone in his body was hurting—his back, his ankles, his neck, his head, everything hurt. Not only that, his thoughts were totally obsessed with either,

“I can’t do this, I’m worthless. There’s something wrong with me. I’m not cut out to do this.”

It was vacillating between those thoughts and

“This whole thing is ridiculous. Why did I ever come here? These people are crazy. This place is like boot camp.”

His mind and body were just aching. Probably everyone else in the room was going through something similar.

Suzuki Roshi came in to give the lecture for the day and he sat down. He started to talk very, very, very slowly and he said,

“The difficulty that you are experiencing now…”

And that man was thinking,

“will go away.”

And he said,

“This difficulty will be with you for the rest of your life.”

So that’s sort of Buddhist humor.

But it is also the essence of maitri. It seems to me in my experience and also in talking to other people that we come to a body of teachings like the Buddhist teachings or any spiritual path, to meditation in some way like little children looking for comfort, looking for understanding, looking for attention, looking somehow to be confirmed. Some kind of comfort will come out of this.

And the truth is actually that the [meditation] practice isn’t about that. The practice is more about somehow this little child, this I, who wants and wants and wants to be confirmed in some way.

Practice is about that part of our being finally being able to open completely to the whole range of our experience, including all that wanting, including all that hurt, including the pain and the joy. Opening to the whole thing so that this little child-like part of us can finally, finally, finally, finally grow up.

Trungpa Rinpoche once said that was the most powerful mantra,

Om Grow Up Svaha.

But this issue of growing up, it’s not all that easy because it requires a lot of courage.

Particularly it takes a lot of courage to relate directly with your experience. By this I mean whatever is occurring in you, you use it. You seize the moment? Moment after moment? You seize those moments and instead of letting life shut you down and make you more afraid, you use those very same moments of time to soften and to open and to become more kind.

More kind to yourself, for starters, as the basis for becoming more kind to others.”




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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


31 Responses to “Buddhism: How to Make Friends with Yourself. Maitri:”

  1. Good timing, Way. Needed to read this this morning, thanks!

  2. ValCarruthers says:

    "Om, grow up, svaha." Love it, Waylon. Many thanks.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  3. Meghan says:

    lovelovelove it. awe. tingling. thank you waylon

  4. […] into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the […]

  5. ValCarruthers says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  6. catnipkiss says:

    Thanks for posting this; I love Pema!! – Alexa M.

  7. Kevin says:


    Dntel: Anywhere Anyone

    How can you love me if you don’t love yourself?
    I love you.

    How can I love you if I don’t love myself?
    I love you.

    We’re not going anywhere. Sun is bright and standing still, it’s alright.

    I love you, anyway. I love you.

  8. […] of this past year and a half. In the process of doing so, I’d finally arrived at the conclusion I am a good guy who’s in need of connection with others. I realize that might sound weird but as some of you may have already experienced, sometimes life […]

  9. […] 19. “The enemy of a love is never outside, it’s not a man or a woman, it’s what we lac… […]

  10. […] But here’s the thing: everyone spends so much time looking for “the one” that they forget the one thing that needs to happen before he or she can find “the one.” If you want to find the right person, it starts by being the right person. It starts by learning to love ourselves. […]

  11. […] Love myself enough to learn. […]

  12. […] be caring, capable and do it all. When I finally realized that I couldn’t, it was liberating! I was much kinder to myself and, therefore, able to give […]

  13. […] Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Maitri Ma… […]

  14. […] 9. Exercise. Don’t eat too much, or do whatever it is you do when you’re sad. As Pema says, change your habitual pattern. Take care of yourself. Maitri. […]

  15. […] told me to look in the mirror, and say, “I love you.” I would roll my eyes, but you know what? Loving yourself is the most important thing you can do. In this love, softness returns in places where you were once hardened and protected. In this soft […]

  16. […] it important to care for ourselves? Yes. Is it possible to stay balanced? Not […]

  17. […] I make a point of it. Be kind. Kindness is free and has endless benefits. Be compassionate. Compassion takes courage and self-love. But […]

  18. […] There’s nothing about money that brings happiness: we have to make friends with ourselves, rich or poor, in order to be cheerful. […]

  19. […] rather sit down in a bar with and join for a beer. Personality, humor, relaxation, affability and maitri, comfort with oneself…this is vital to […]

  20. […] will be updated. Beyond that, practice equanimity (meditation instruction here). Do your best to be kind to yourself and your loved ones and we’ll get through this, as President Obama says at the bottom, […]

  21. […] is not helpful. Leaders are servants, and human, and fallible. Finding our wisdom and peace and maitri within is what great leaders help us to […]

  22. […] can make friends with ourselves. Otherwise, we truly have nothing—all our life, our so-called popularity, our friendships are […]

  23. […] how do you learn to be funny and to believe in God? First, you have to believe in yourself, and then you have to let that belief shine out into the world. If that sounds simple, then I’m […]

  24. […] For if you do not love yourself first how can someone love the true you. […]

  25. Hannah says:

    I’m in love with you(r kindness).

  26. Jigme says:

    I have a constant “I am not good enough” and “I will never measure up” running through my mind. I am so afraid of failing, of others finding out I am not good enough or seeing I don’t measure up…I just want to hide. NO amount of telling myself I am good enough ever makes one ounce of difference. No amount of holding in the arms of loving kindness makes this go away. In my heart; in my being I believe I will never be good enough, I will never measure up to what is needed in this moment.

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