Thursday, October 12, 2006

Seeeing ourselves without illusion

It is not uncommon for people to believe that if they make certain changes in themselves that they can then accept themselves. It actually works the other way around: If we accept ourselves as we are, then we are able to make changes. But we can't accept ourselves as we are until we know ourselves as we are. This principle is addressed by H. Gunaratana in his book Mindfulness In Plain English:
You can't make radical changes in the pattern of your life until you begin to see yourself exactly as you are now. As soon as you do that, changes flow naturally. You don't have to force or struggle or obey rules dictated to you by some authority. You just change. It is automatic. But arriving at the initial insight is quite a task. You've got to see who you are and how you are, without illusion, judgement or resistance of any kind. You've got to see your own place in society and your function as a social being. You've got to see your duties and obligations to your fellow human beings, and above all, your responsibility to yourself as an individual living with other individuals. And you've got to see all of that clearly and as a unit, a single gestalt of interrelationship. It sounds complex, but it often occurs in a single instant. Mental culture through meditation is without rival in helping you achieve this sort of understanding and serene happiness.
Meditation is intended to purify the mind. It cleanses the thought process of what can be called psychic irritants, things like greed, hatred and jealousy, things that keep you snarled up in emotional bondage. It brings the mind to a state of tranquility and awareness, a state of concentration and insight.
When people come to talk to me about making wanted changes in their lives, I encounter a lot of resistance to the idea that they need to see who they are without judgment. But that really is the way forward. Our judgments distort what we see and keep us stuck. When we accept without judgment we no longer have to expend a huge amount of energy not seeing who we are because it hurts so much to see. And that energy then can be used for making the changes we really want to make.


  1. I'm so glad to find your site! I deeply appreciated this post. Thank you so much.

    Deep bows,

  2. You are very welcome, Trish. I'm glad you've found your way here. Come back any time!

    Blessings to you,

  3. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all your fellow humans everywhere in the world.
    Margaret Laurence
    I found the above at It seemed appropriate.

  4. On my own path, this has been very true—warts and all.


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