Taken from Pema Chodron’s book, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips we lay on ourselves–the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and addictions of all kinds–never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink away from being fully awake.
Looking at ourselves this way is very different from our usual habit. From this perspective we don’t need to change: you can feel as wretched as you like, and you’re still a good candidate for enlightenment. You can feel like the world’s most hopeless basket case, but that feeling is your wealth, not something to be thrown out or improved upon. There’s a richness to all of the smelly stuff that we so dislike, and so little desire. The delightful things–what we love so dearly about ourselves, the places in which we feel some sense of pride or inspiration–these also are our wealth.
Only to the degree that we’ve gotten to know our personal pain, only to the degree that we’ve related with pain at all, will we be fearless enough, brave enough, and enough of a warrior to be willing to feel the pain of others. To that degree we will be able to take on the pain of others because we will have discovered that their pain and our pain are not different.
and then later:
Although it is embarrassing and painful, it is very healing to stop hiding from yourself. It is healing to know all the ways that you’re sneaky, all the ways that you hide out, all the ways that you shut down, deny, close off, criticize people, all your weird little ways. You can know all of that with some sense of humor and kindness. By knowing yourself, you’re coming to know humanness altogether. We are all up against these things. We are all in this together.
These are two of my favorite books by Pema Chodron, though I’ve not read anything of hers I didn’t enjoy.