There is an old Buddhist teaching, one of the first ones that I learned, which tells us that at the heart of every individual is goodness.
It describes that we are each born with a basic sweetness. This tenderness is a suchness that could never be taken away, no matter how we are feeling or showing up in the world.
It is like we have a beautiful crystal inside of us that over the years got covered by a pile of our own crap—you know, the heavy stuff we lay on ourselves. At first we just heaped a bit on, a turd here and one there, but as we continued to throw our waste over it, a landfill formed there, atop our most shiny spot.
However, underneath this hill of excrement remains a sparkling jewel.
I have to remember this on the hard days. The ones where I criticize, judge and fight. Those days when I feel like the worst person on the planet, because I am not perfect…damn! These are the moments when I most need to sit down and recall: I am not the sh*t my heads tells me I am.
It is time to start clearing the dung.
In the Shambhala Buddhist lineage they speak of everyone having unconditional goodness—remembering this sweetness time and time again is the training of the warrior, especially when times get bad.
We are not the rubbish we fling upon ourselves; we are the gems beneath.
Under the cover of habitual patterns, numbing out, shutting down, picking on, adjusting and fixing, there is something light, pure and good.
When my biggest demons come up, I like to remember that the night before the Buddha attained enlightenment, he faced the nastiest of opponents—that of his own mind, Mara.
He sat all night taking Mara’s abuse, breathing and meditating. She told him he was a horrible person. She spat and flung insults and tried to tempt him with dirty tricks.
He didn’t allow her onslaught to sway him.
When he had enough, he called on the power of the earth to support him and he told Mara to F-off.
Mara only had power if the Buddha believed her. As she could not convince him, she gave up. When we are feeling our worst, this is our experience with ourselves. We need to not be convinced by it.
Today, let’s shed a few layers of unwanted rubble…
This is the practice of bravery—to be in the world as we are with less premeditated defenses.
And to be clear, our crap is a defense tactic.
Be gentle. The place where we claim our natural goodness is right here.
My practice to hold ground and clear the rubble in the midst of a self-hate landslide is simple: just a little shovel-n’-polish.
Sit for a moment. Notice our breath. Imagine our feet growing roots all the way down to the center of the earth. These are our anchors. Like the Buddha , we hold firmly our seat. Put one hand on our heart and rest it there. Feel our palm polishing this very spot. We are cleaning off our crystal, wiping away the layers of refuse.
The paradox is that as we live more and more in the light, the darkness in us will try sneakier maneuvers to win us back. We get stronger by continually calling its bluff.
We are not bad. We are transforming and growing. Each time we come back to our basic goodness, we are polishing our light.
We were created with sweetness, like the fragrance of a wild rose, a hummingbird in flight, a wave cresting on the ocean. We are well-being and the desire to thrive.
In our maturation, we will be tempted to believe we are less. Don’t get sucked in, it is just Mara exhaling her last breath.
She has to learn, we are more powerful then she. We are stronger than our conditioning, brighter then our self-criticism and more brave than the average hero.
When we are feeling self-doubt or worry—take a second. Know this is happening because we are choosing to profoundly grow; we are getting closer to our basic sweetness.
To be warriors of light, we need to remember we were created good. Be like that crystal—polished and ready to shine.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: Flickr/Hartwig HKD
Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Katarina Tavčar