(Prologue: I’ve got first-hand experience that a real understanding of the laws of karma can substantially change our lives for the better. I created this weblog to share information and personal experience with others. May it be beneficial!)
Today is January 01, 2013. Many of us will have made, or will be in the process of making, New Year’s resolutions. For example:
- to be more emotionally generous in sharing our feelings and experience
- to communicate in a genuine way, i.e. communication that goes beyond ego, that isn’t defensive, e.g. “You’re putting words in my mouth.” “That’s just your projection.”
- to appreciate the support that others give us, rather than taking it for granted or thinking that it is somehow our “due”
- to be kinder, less aggressive
- to get fit
- etc. etc. etc.
My New Year’s resolution is NOT to try, or make any effort, to improve myself.
As long as you’re wanting to be thinner, smarter, more enlightened, less uptight, or whatever it might be, somehow you’re always going to be approaching your problem with the very same logic that created it to begin with: you’re not good enough. That’s why the habitual pattern never unwinds itself when you’re trying to improve, because you go about it in exactly the same habitual style that caused all the pain to start. (source: Pema Chodron: Start Where You Are)
I want to unwind my habitual “self,” not improve it!
Let’s be clear. I’m not taking about the self as who we actually are. I’m using the term “self” here as it pertains to our manufactured self, ego. (Please click here for definition of ego.)
Our usual resolutions revolve around tweaking this manufactured self that we cherish so much.
What’s wrong with being kinder? Nothing. It’s trying to be kinder that presents a problem, as Pema Chodron’s quotation above demonstrates.
I myself like to use what I call “the royal road” to fulfil my intention.
And that royal road is mindfulness and awareness. (Please click here for definitions of these terms.) By practicing mindfulness and awareness, we aren’t admonishing ourselves with commands like “don’t be unkind” in an effort to be kind. Instead, we notice again and again and again when we are being unkind.
By practicing small increments of awareness — over and over again — of our thoughts and emotions, a quiet yet powerful revolution takes place: the thoughts, emotions and actions that underlie our habitual patterns (please click here for definition and descriptionof term) of aggression and laziness , for example, are eventually undercut.
Atisha (please click here for more information about this great teacher) summed it up very well: Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end. (Please click here for more information about the slogans.)
In the morning when you wake up, you reflect on the day ahead and aspire to use it to keep a wide-open heart and mind. At the end of the day, before going to sleep, you think over what you have done. If you fulfilled your aspiration, rejoice in that. If you went against your aspiration, rejoice that you are able to see what you did and are no longer living in ignorance. This way you will be inspired to go forward with increasing clarity, confidence, and compassion in the days that follow. (Please click here for source of Pema Chodron’s quotation.)
At the same time, we are undercutting our tendency to maintain our karma and create fresh karma.
Not bad! Especially for someone who refuses to “improve.”
Please click here for sources on how to practice mindfulness and awareness.
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