I have faith that we are all acceptable just as we are. I have passed this on to many people, and I have seen it bear fruit in their lives. It’s the name of our Buddhist book, and ‘just as you are’ is the most important slogan in my new book.
This doesn’t mean that we are perfect (far from it), or that we don’t need to take responsibility for the ways in which we harm others. It means that, even when we’re at our very worst, we are seen and understood and cared about. For me, the Buddha does this caring, but for others it is The Universe, Limitless Love, God, Humankind or whatever else is bigger and wiser than you.
Recently I have been observing my behaviour. I spend an awful lot of my time thinking about how I can improve. I read lots of books, do spiritual practice, have therapy, and sign up to new courses. I go to great lengths to show others my best side. I seek affirmation from social media. I’m frequently disappointed in myself when I fail to keep up with the daily disciplines I’ve decided on. Is this the behaviour of someone who feels acceptable just as they are?
On the plane back from Kyoto I watched two beautiful films; Maudie, about a young arthritic woman in Nova Scotia who taught herself to paint, and Patti Cakes, about an overweight white girl with an alcoholic mother who dreams of becoming a hip-hop legend. These women are riddled with flaws and limitations. Both of them slowly and painfully find a place for themselves in the world, and a way to make an offering of their unique creativity, regardless of how they are judged by others.
I fell in love with Maudie and Patti Cakes. Tears streamed down my face as I understood them and appreciated them just as they were. The tears were also for me. I saw how it might be possible that I too could just be myself, with all my flaws and limitations, and also be loved. I felt another layer of need-to-manipulate-the-world-into-loving-me peeling off, and I was flooded with relief, warmth and peace.
I am under no illusions. This dissolved layer of fear and defence is the tip of a very big iceberg. I will continue to be compulsive around food and money and the internet. I will continue to get into codependent tangles with others. A part of me is hoping right now that you will praise me for this blog post (amused smile).
Also, I am so grateful for the layers that do get peeled off, as each uncovering leaves me more alive than I was before. When I let go of ego, I am relieved of the striving that is motivated by fear. I feel lighter, more relaxed and more secure. I find myself randomly dancing around the living room or beaming at the cats. And I become more intimate with the flower that blooms and is also already dying. It is so beautiful!!
just as you are
just as you are
Photo by Sandra Hajduczek with gratitude