We appreciate and enjoy love. The moment we talk about love, we become happier. We welcome and look forward to it. Some spiritual practitioners will tell you that it is attachment and desire and not good. Maybe. But there is great usefulness, there is great helpfulness in that love. Don’t be so quick to reject love and call it desire and attachment and obsession. Every love is not obsession. We know that.
People who can appreciate and who can handle love, for them love will remain love and not become obsession. When you cannot handle the truth, then it becomes obsession. We all know that. There is great usefulness. I am not saying that love is not attachment. I am not saying that attachment is not love. There may be an attachment part of love, but there may be a non-attachment part of love as well. Whatever it is, for us love is useful as love. It brings joy, happiness and appreciation. It brings respect to other people. It also brings respect to yourself. A number of people do reject themselves. They pretend, “For me it is nothing” and they may try to be humble. But sometimes that becomes a little too humble.
Maybe that’s a cultural thing. A lot of Asian cultures bring in that, looking down on oneself. I do receive sometimes communication and it is also our own Tibetan culture as well, to refer to oneself as, the “poorest and weakest in faith and devotion,” or the “last row disciple,” and things like that. These are funny references. They actually try to maintain humbleness and humility. However, sometimes it becomes too much and you lose your self-esteem. Yes, it is absolutely necessary to maintain humility and be very humble, but it is absolutely not necessary to be self-defeating and losing self-esteem and pride. That’s not necessary.
Losing your self-esteem is not even a virtue, according to the Buddha. Yes, we don’t want to boost our ego and we don’t want to be a person that wears the sky on you head and the clouds as a belt that keeps your hat on your head. But, you should have self-esteem and self-respect. Being humble doesn’t have to defeat self-esteem. You really have to be in between that. It is an art to be able to go like that. If you lose self-respect you lose your basic foundation terribly. People very easily make that mistake.
It is indeed taught that pride is not great. The teachings give you examples like, ‘The highest peaks don’t maintain water.’ Because of their sharp peaks they can’t maintain water. Then they don’t become green during the spring. They are the last places to become green, if at all. Similarly, the best quality of crops, like barley and wheat will not stand up straight, but bend down because of the weight of the grains. If there is not much wheat or barley in the stalks, they will be standing straight and tall. That’s because there is nothing in it. These examples are given and we are told not to have such pride. But, that is referring to ego. When we praise and increase our ego, [that] is very harmful to us and others, including those around you. But if you defeat your self-esteem, that is equally harmful. So you have to draw the line in between.
When Tibetan Buddhism talks about ego pride, it is “na gyal.” Most translators do translate that as pride. But when you really look carefully, it is not necessarily talking about pride, but about a superiority – and inferiority complex. You certainly don’t need a superiority-inferiority complex. But self-esteem is very definitely needed. Otherwise you need your self-respect and then you lose respect for others as well. Then you become careless, a person who doesn’t care, whether good or bad. People like that will say, “I am straight forward, I don’t care.” Yes, that has a quality, but at the same time it has terrible disqualification too. You don’t care if it is good or if it is bad. Some people will hide their lack of understanding in the name of being straight forward and honest. When you begin to look at the human mind, it is so complex, tremendously complex. When you look at what’s good and bad, it is equally complicated. However, some of you do know that compassion is good and love is good; self-cherishing or selfishness is bad. A superiority complex is terrible. We all know that. At least that much principle we should keep and move forward.
~ Gelek Rimpoche, Jewel Heart Netherlands, May 5, 2013
Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2018