Sunday, October 16, 2005

Don't let the world define you

Here is an excellent description of what life is like when we lose our equanimity and mindfulness. This is by Henri J.M. Nouwen from his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son:
A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.
Let's not be like that small boat on the ocean - at the mercy of attitudes and behaviors of others. Rather let's apply the meditative principles to every aspect of our lives, practicing deep acceptance and letting go of attachments. The attachment to praise and affirmation is especially pernicious. Having that attachment is profoundly disempowering for we assign the role of producing a sense of well being in ourselves over to other people. Nobody is obligated to like us or to praise us or to be thinking about us at all. Equanimity in this regard comes from having an internal sense of self-esteem that is not dependent on what other people think or say or do. It comes from accepting what is - no matter what that may be.

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