1/1/18 Letting Myself Be Vulnerable

1/1/18

Happy New Year!!! So much happened today I am not looking forward to how long it will take to write it all down. I also don’t feel like being vulnerable right now. I had so many amazing things happen today and I don’t want to come down off of my cloud. I feel great, but I need to sort out everything I have learned.

I started out the new year morning by crying. Touching on the topic of treating Buddha nature as your guru, brought up a lot of crap I had been suppressing up until now. Before, motivating myself to practice Dharma was quite a bit like whipping a slave to work. I can confirm now that I still believe that putting emphasis on the positive qualities leads to faster changes in self, but being tender with myself opened up the flood gates to experiencing all of my deepest insecurities I had been suppressing. I had been avoiding these deeper issues because I figured it was just extreme self cherishing and that I shouldn’t engage with them at all. I learned today that my slave driver method of practicing Dharma ironically lead to me avoiding practicing real Dharma. Today, I learned that real Dharma involves working with these delusions while pushing yourself to be a good Dharma practitioner leads to suppressing what needs to be worked with.

Here is the part I wish to avoid talking about: my insecurities. This morning, I awoke to all of my insecurities demanding to be heard, and for whatever reason, today, I decided to listen. Yesterday afternoon, I felt attacked by a classmate. It is her personality—her way of communicating. I felt so attacked I ended up telling a lie to defend my own reputation. In hind sight, it was such a stupid thing to even lie about. It wasn’t the topic of the lie itself; it was just that I felt backed into a corner by the way she continuously berated me. She challenged everything I said and I genuinely began to feel like I was under attack and had to protect this concept of self. That concept of self being my reputation at that moment. I told a lie for something insignificant merely because of the feeling of being under attack, but when I examine it now I wouldn’t consider what I lied about to be me. I lied about seeing the same woman do multiple jobs. It was so silly. I have never considered myself to be good at recognizing faces, so normally I would have no problem admitting I was wrong. I don’t have any idea what is going through her mind, but it appears that she constantly looks for things that are wrong. After experiencing enough of this, I began to protect what felt like was “me” at that moment. It wasn’t the challenge that upset me it was being challenged that upset me. If someone was gentle and asked me if I was sure I was right about my claim, I would have had no problem saying, “No I’m not sure;” but since it was more forceful, I felt under attack and immediately sought to protect what felt like “me” at the time. The result was a lie.

Later that day, another classmate asked for a hug. I had been wanting a hug myself from this same classmate two days before but didn’t ask for one, so I was happy to hug him when he asked. It was a good hug. He has such a sweet demeanor and he is so gentle I find myself wanting to be around him all the time. I have developed a crush on him and have attachment to him because he provides me with the gentleness I wish I provided for myself.

I asked him what was wrong and we talked a bit about his girl friend. He was tearing up and felt he was failing to provide her with the affirmation she desired. I pointed out that he was experiencing empathy in hopes that I could help him in the same way Karuna helped me by pointing out my compassion.(end of journal 12/26/17) It appears to me, that he fluctuates between empathy towards his girlfriend and being upset by the idea that he doesn’t provide enough as a boyfriend. It appears to my delusion filled vision of the situation that if he let go of the self-cherishing thought of not being enough and rested in the empathy then he would be at peace in his relationship with her. It is my little experiment to see if pointing out his good qualities and not affirming his incorrect view of self would result in him being more empathetic and less self-cherishing.

Talking about his relationship somehow looped back around to me. He asked me if I was able to ask for help when I needed it and the answer was no. He asked about whether I felt I could ask for something I need, his example being a hug, in my family and I had to answer no. I told him that I felt like love was given by my family randomly. You can’t earn it and you can’t ask for it—it just comes when it comes. I told him that I had just learned when I needed something just to wait until someone offered it. Maybe, this is part of why I was unable to accept help from the community out here when I ran out of Nepali Rupees. After talking to him about this, I felt vulnerable, but in a good way. We grabbed dinner at that cafeteria and sat with our usual friends. One of the friends was the woman I often felt attacked by. This dinner it happened again, but because I was more vulnerable I was also more aware.

Earlier that day, when I felt attacked in the conversation, I was avoiding this more sensitive part of self. I was hiding behind a more concrete and “powerful” concept of self and suppressed the softer part of self I labeled as self-cherishing. This “powerful” self has qualities like happy, funny, and strong. The “powerful” self mask I use makes me feel like I have everything figured out, that everything is under control, and will be OK. When using this mask, I believe this “self” to be consistent, inherently me, and forget that it was constructed. Everything is fine until the mask fails to be consistent and inherently me. The woman challenging me again and again hit that soft underbelly that I normally suppressed, since I was wearing the mask, I didn’t even notice the pain when it occurred. All I could see is that my mask was being challenged and I took on negative karma to defend it.

However, during dinner was different. During dinner, I noticed when the woman did the same thing again I felt pain. Instead of defending myself I was quiet. I didn’t want to defend myself. Defending myself would mean going up for another round of attacks and it didn’t makes sense at that moment because I no longer identified as “powerful”—at that moment I identified as vulnerable and virtuous. This more subtle mask or “self” didn’t need to be protected. I tried generating compassion for her attitude, but I messed up and ended up looking down at her inside my mind thinking it is sad she has delusions. I think true compassion comes from a source of understanding and empathy, because you understand and empathize with their delusions you wish to help.

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