Monday, September 12, 2016

Growing Up

I have been slowly - so slowly - working my way through Pema Chodren's book When Things Fall Apart.  And I was caught on the chapter titled "Growing up"

She writes this:
"Whether we're eating or working or meditating or listening or talking, the reason that we're here in this world at all is to study ourselves..  In fact, it has been said that studying ourselves provides all the books we need."

Here is what she is saying - if we can know ourselves and  accept the way we are - then maybe we can know accept others as well. Studying ourselves is easier said that done.  She writes that what happens is that we often fall into despair that it becomes a "depressing and morbid project."  Where is the joy in this?  And too often the study of self  becomes "Taking an Inventory" of the worst of us.

 I know that on our  Christian journey  it is best to start with grace - this understanding (intellectual at first) of the unconditional love of God.  Which means, of course, God who loves us despite our sinful ways. (speaking Christian language here).  However, my experience is that often Christians know about grace but haven't really experienced it.  So the study of self - going deeper into acknowledging the darker parts of our selves - is very uncomfortable and we are pretty limited in our "self study."

Pema has written the importance of compassion  - not just for others - but for ourselves.  We need to study ourselves with kindness and compassion.Yesterday I wrote this poem to a younger version of myself perhaps or to a person who is just beginning to understand this invitation to grow up:

Be Gentle with yourself, Dear One
As you begin to explore the unknown interior
Can you give up how special  and important you are
as you sift through your memories of the past

Can you trust that your past – and mine
    Has evidence of thoughtlessness and thoughtfulness
  Can you trust that your history – and mine
    Has moments of cowardly withdrawal and courageous engagement
Can you trust that your words – and mine
    Have been critical and compassionate, brilliant and banal

Be gentle with yourself ,  Dear one
    So that with compassion and mercy
You can live in awareness  and acceptance  and appreciation
    Of everything you are
     And everything I am
     And everything the world is.

I will end this with one more quotation from Pema

"As long as we don't want to be honest and kind with ourselves, then we are always going to be infants.  When we begin just to try to accept ourselves, the ancient burden of self importance lightens up considerably.

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