Giving up Self-disparagement

อาจารย์ จันทสิริ

Giving up Self-disparagement

This is also a useful insight in terms of our inner practice: to recognize that there are times when we actually have a choice to not allow the mind to go in a certain direction.

Once I was very angry and there was a strong sense of wanting to punish someone. Fortunately, I was also very clear about the harmfulness of acting on such a negative impulse, so I could just stop it, cut it. Not because I was frightened of the anger, but because I could see that it wouldn’t be at all helpful; it wouldn’t support well-being, either for myself or for the other person.

Giving up self-disparagement is the same kind of thing. As we become more mindful, more aware of our habitual ways of thinking and can notice them more quickly, it is possible to just stop the mind from going in a harmful direction….

So it’s really important to notice the kind of thoughts that we have, how we undermine our sense of well-being through our negative thinking. And it’s all fabricated. It’s all simply a saṅkhāra. It’s not true. We make it up: ‘Good me’, ‘bad me’, ‘mediocre me’, ‘could do better me’; all these are just ideas we have about ourselves, they’re entirely creations.

Now you might say that ‘I’m a wonderful me, and my practice is really good’ is a creation as well. And I have to agree; but isn’t it better to create something positive and bright, something that’s actually going to lift us up and encourage us, rather than to believe in the negative, miserable, discouraging things we habitually create in the mind? I would call this a skilful means.

We can be so cruel to ourselves, so mean, but it’s because of the way we’ve been conditioned. It’s a habit that we’ve picked up, training we received from when we were very little. I’ve thought about this and realized that my mother had very high standards. I’d struggle to live up to them, and my sense is that her mother had also had very high standards to live up to. I could see that the conditioning goes back through the generations, each one passing it on to the next.

We don’t need to blame anybody; however, it’s interesting to consider that for us there is the possibility of not passing on that conditioning to our children and to the people we are teaching and guiding.

This reflection by Ajahn Candasiri is from the Forest Sangha Newsletter, #93, 2014, (pdf) pp. 17, 18.