Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
Discussion Group – Class Schedule – Wednesday 2pm – 3:30 pm
All readings from: “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach
- October 22nd – Chapter 1
- ? October 29th – lunch
- November 12th – Chapter 2
- November 26th – No Class – Thanksgiving
- December 10th – Chapter 3
- December 24th – No Class – Christmas
Meditations – Jack Kornfield – Equanimity and Peace
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
- Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make any sense. —Rumi
PROLOGUE “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME”
- I was the furthest thing from my own best friend. I was continually harassed by an inner judge who was merciless, relentless, nit-picking, driving, often invisible but always on the job. I knew I would never treat a friend the way I treated myself, without mercy or kindness.
- I found there the teachings and practices that enabled me to directly face my feelings of unworthiness and insecurity. They gave me a way of seeing clearly what I was experiencing and showed me how to relate to my life with compassion.
- For so many of us, feelings of deficiency are right around the corner. It doesn’t take much—just hearing of someone else’s accomplishments, being criticized, getting into an argument, making a mistake at work—to make us feel that we are not okay.
ONE – THE TRANCE OF UNWORTHINESS
- You will be walking some night … It will be clear to you suddenly that you were about to escape, and that you are guilty: you misread the complex instructions, you are not a member, you lost your card or never had one … Wendell Berry
- My mind is speeding frantically, but my body feels heavy and exhausted; I move as if through molasses. I know I should be able to handle the problem, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get where I need to go. Completely alone and shadowed by the fear of failure, I am trapped in my dilemma. Nothing else in the world exists but that. This dream captures the essence of the trance of unworthiness.
- The rest of the world is merely a backdrop as we struggle to get somewhere, to be a better person, to accomplish, to avoid making mistakes. As in a dream, we take our stories to be the truth—a compelling reality—and they consume most of our attention.
- Underneath our fear of being flawed is a more primal fear that something is wrong with life, that something bad is going to happen. Our reaction to this fear is to feel blame, even hatred, toward whatever we consider the source of the problem: ourselves, others, life itself. But even when we have directed our aversion outward, deep down we still feel vulnerable.
- Our feelings of unworthiness and alienation from others give rise to various forms of suffering. For some, the most glaring expression is addiction.
- We yearn for an unquestioned experience of belonging, to feel at home with ourselves and others, at ease and fully accepted. But the trance of unworthiness keeps the sweetness of belonging out of reach.
- While we might place the blame on someone else, we still tacitly blame ourselves for getting into the situation in the first place.
- Convinced that we are not good enough, we can never relax. We stay on guard, monitoring ourselves for shortcomings. When we inevitably find them, we feel even more insecure and undeserving.
BRINGING AN UNWORTHY SELF INTO SPIRITUAL LIFE
- had the idea that if I really applied myself, it would take eight to ten years to release all my self-absorption and be wise and free.
A CULTURE THAT BREEDS SEPARATION AND SHAME
- A look of confusion came over the Dalai Lama’s face. “What is self-hatred?” he asked.
- We learn early in life that any affiliation—with family and friends, at school or in the workplace—requires proving that we are worthy.
- After a lifetime of working with the poor and the sick, Mother Teresa’s surprising insight was: “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging.” In our own society, this disease has reached epidemic proportions. We long to belong and feel as if we don’t deserve to.
- Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion.
GROWING UP UNWORTHY
- A family went out to a restaurant for dinner. When the waitress arrived, the parents gave their orders. Immediately, their five-year-old daughter piped up with her own: “I’ll have a hot dog, french fries and a Coke.” “Oh no you won’t,” interjected the dad, and turning to the waitress he said, “She’ll have meat loaf, mashed potatoes, milk.” Looking at the child with a smile, the waitress said, “So, hon, what do you want on that hot dog?” When she left, the family sat stunned and silent. A few moments later the little girl, eyes shining, said, “She thinks I’m real.”
- Our imperfect parents had imperfect parents of their own. Fears, insecurities and desires get passed along for generations. Parents want to see their offspring make it in ways that are important to them. Or they want their children to be special, which in our competitive culture means more intelligent, accomplished and attractive than other people. They see their children through filters of fear (they might not get into a good college and be successful) and filters of desire (will they reflect well on us?).
- Despite his understanding, Jeff still felt that having needs made him unappealing, undesirable, even bad. As is the case for so many of us, any feeling of need brought up shame. Even the word needy made him cringe.
STRATEGIES TO MANAGE THE PAIN OF INADEQUACY
- Over the years we each develop a particular blend of strategies designed to hide our flaws and compensate for what we believe is wrong with us.
- We embark on one self-improvement project after another.
- We hold back and play it safe rather than risking failure.
- Playing it safe requires that we avoid risky situations—which covers pretty much all of life.
- We withdraw from our experience of the present moment.
- There’s an old joke about a Jewish mother who sends a telegram to her son: “Start worrying, details to follow.”
- We keep busy.
- We become our own worst critics.
- Jules Feiffer puts it: “I grew up to have my father’s looks, my father’s speech patterns, my father’s posture, my father’s walk, my father’s opinions and my mother’s contempt for my father.”
- We focus on other people’s faults.
- There is a saying that the world is divided into people who think they are right.
TURNING OTHERS INTO THE ENEMY
- In this “us versus them” world, the unworthiness, the evil, is “out there.”
THE ROOTS OF TRANCE—TAKING OURSELVES TO BE A SEPARATE SELF
- This was his first noble truth: Suffering or discontent is universal, and fully recognizing its existence is the first step on the path of awakening.
- all suffering or dissatisfaction arises from a mistaken understanding that we are a separate and distinct self.
- Wanting and fearing are natural energies, part of evolution’s design to protect us and help us to thrive. But when they become the core of our identity, we lose sight of the fullness of our being.
“WITHOUT ANXIETY ABOUT IMPERFECTION”
- The renowned seventh-century Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being “without anxiety about imperfection.” This means accepting our human existence and all of life as it is. Imperfection is not our personal problem—it is a natural part of existing.
- Guided Reflection: Recognizing the Trance of Unworthiness
- Do I accept my body as it is?
- Do I accept my mind as it is?
- Do I accept my emotions and moods as they are?
- Do I feel I’m a bad person because of ways I behave?
- Often we perceive the trance most clearly by recognizing how we want others to see us—and what we don’t want them to see. Bring to mind someone you’ve spent time with recently—someone you like and respect but don’t know well. What do you most want this person to see about you (e.g., that you are loving, generous, attractive)? What do you not want this person to perceive about you (e.g., that you are selfish, insecure, jealous)?
Future Classes at West U
These are 3 hour introductory classes to meditation. It is the same class that most of you have attended.
- Thursday October 23rd from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Jung Center – The Four Noble Truths for Everyday Life
Saturday November 1, 2014 – 9 am – 1 pm – Jung Center – 5200 Montrose Blvd
Call (713) 524-8253 to register
Jung Center – Free Movie – “The Way Home”
Thursday October 30, 2014 – 7 pm – 9:30 pm – Jung Center – 5200 Montrose Blvd – Call (713) 524-8253 to register
Any questions email me at email@example.com
Copies of the handouts and homework on http://BeingMindful.com