A Process of Being Here All Along

Excerpt from “Unconditional Confidence,” by Pema Chödrön:

One of my favorite ways of expressing this attitude of gentleness [in response to fear or panic] is a quote from Trungpa Rinpoche where he says, “It’s not about cultivating one part of our self and rejecting another, but about simply looking openly at ourselves just as we are.”

So when the fear arises, it’s not trying to get rid of the fear, but looking open-heartedly. Dropping the storylines. Turning toward instead of running away. Opening up our minds and hearts because what you open up into is such a groundless, vulnerable, tender situation. But it has its huge heart. It has, not even the seeds of compassion and love, but it is a gesture of love in itself.

It probably isn’t quite accurate to say “love for the fearful mind,” but it is in a way love for a total, unconditional acceptance of your own experience. You would think that that  would be the same thing as indulgence. You would think that would lead to an escalating into self-absorption and only thinking about yourself, but strangely—I think armorbecause it’s so raw and because you’re staying with the rawness—it totally demolishes the way that we protect ourselves. The way that we put on a suit of armor or develop a thick skin or go into ourselves and don’t care other people. No tenderness for ourselves translates as no kindness, no compassion, no mercy for others.

So this loving-kindness, this atmosphere of warmth, is allowing yourself to be as you are without justifying it or condemning it. This allowing is a process of being here all along. Not just when we like how it’s going. And as I say, instead of that making you more self-absorbed, it makes you very decent, very sane, and very open to the world and other people.