Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Compassion and acceptance — radical actions

"It never hurts to think too highly of a person; often they become ennobled and act better because of it."

I wrote down that quote from Tara Brach's Radical Compassion and try to live it. Culturally, I feel we often divide ourselves, or sort ourselves, and I think that loses the wondrous essence of whom we are as human beings.

I respond to both Brach's Radical Compassion (2019) and Radical Acceptance (2003), and after reading those, I've come to love her podcast, which features loving lectures and mediations. I recommend both books, but will officially recommend Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN because it's newer.

Nowadays, I'm hardly reading any personal growth, AKA self-help books, but not too long ago, I devoured them. Growing up as a "pleaser," I accidentally indoctrinated myself into culturally typical ways of thinking and living that weren't that healthy or caring. I tried to put everybody before myself, which I thought was Christlike. But what about myself? How genuine could my compassion and acceptance be for others, if I didn't have that for myself?

Brach's books helped me grow and let go of a lot. They helped me reset and focus on what is actually important and healthy in life. I would say my demographic of "fallen away Gen X Catholic" carries a lot of baggage. I feel that me, officially moving away from Catholicism, was the right move, but then I walked around with a spiritual hole for most of my life.

Brach is an engaged Buddhist. That means she applies Buddhist teachings to social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. She was raised as a Christian Unitarian and is a clinical psychologist PhD, and for me, she speaks my language of how I see and relate to spirituality.

It's not only Radical Compassion and Radical Acceptance that work for me, but also Brach's wisdom and podcasts. I responded once to when she was talking about slowing down our lives. "When you walk half as fast, you see double," she said. It's so true. I have no time to rush.

To pay attention is to love, and four flags of not being present are obsessive thinking, judgement, distraction and moving fast. Gosh, life is just so much more fulfilling when I slow down, get out of my monkey mind and savor experiences.

Brach is helping me embrace my natural imperfections, and as a teacher, I've learned the balance of looking at others' potential while accepting them as is. She is big into RAIN — recognize, allow, investigate and nurture — to help free ourselves from our limiting identities. However, I must say that I didn't respond to the practice as much as the wisdom.

Is it possible to be a non-practicing Buddhist? At this point, I probably would fall into that category. Perhaps I'll take some steps forward as I understand that personal growth often leads us to Buddhism or God.

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