We are constantly toggling between pleasing others, and pleasing ourselves. Very rarely are we authentically doing anything. Of course, when we truly question the inner core intention of action; whether pleasing others or pleasing ourselves; of what’s it in for me – it always comes back to me, me and me.
What differentiates the intention are only two – fear, or love; and the result also can be of only two – further bondage, or freedom. We think that what we think at the conscious level is true and true, but when we start the inquiry process of each of our action, to each of our intention, it is never surprising to finally arrive at the space where we’d find the ultimate belief of inadequacy or unworthiness.
Jesus said, “Love Thy Neighbour as You Love Yourself”. Just the other day, I read an article that shared this story in the canon, King Pasenadi, in a tender moment with his favorite consort, Queen Mallika, asks her, “Is there anyone you love more than yourself?” He’s anticipating, of course, that she’ll answer, “Yes, your majesty. You.” And it’s easy to see where a B-movie script would go from there. But this is the Pali canon, and Queen Mallika is no ordinary queen. She answers, “No, your majesty, there isn’t. And how about you? Is there anyone you love more than yourself?” The king, forced into an honest answer, has to admit, “No, there’s not.”
And the other day, I asked my partner too, of the same question. He answered the exact same question as Queen Mallika, but added on, “when I love myself somehow, I feel more love for you and our daughter.” How true. Because that is what I feel too, each time. It is as if, this self love which absorbs within self, cannot be contained within self and then is inevitably spread amongst the rest surrounding. There is pure joyfulness, peace and acceptance. Having said that, this state within each of us, is never quite constant.
And coming back to pleasing others and pleasing ourselves, we always perceive that when we love ourselves, we love others less. True love, fortunately, does not work that way. Many times we witness couples at the cross road of a breakup – whether to try again, or to let go. The answer has always been there, but what makes a couple want to ‘try’ again, especially when none of them are willing to make any changes. Hmm, let me correct that, even if some changes were to be made, those changes would never be permanent – because these changes are done to please others, to keep the other – and never for the betterment of ourselves. The truth is that we all feel that we are alright, and the only time we feel that we are not alright is when we need someone out there to so-called complete us, or to make us whole again. And another truth from here is this, we don’t need anyone. We are either constantly overestimating another’s importance in our lives, or blaming them for our misery and sufferings. If both swings of the pendulum bring us back to the place where we are dependent on another for happiness or sufferings, then we are nowhere near home. We are far, far away from home – where our treasure lies.
A man told me this, “She loves me, that is why I have to be with her” despite already knowing that he is not happy with her; and the woman says, “I love him, that is why I need to keep him.” despite already knowing she will never get what she wants from him. Both do not see the extent of hyprocracy in their saying, actions or intentions. Both not willing to take responsibility for their shame, their guilt, their lack and most importantly, their own happiness and wellbeing. One who feels that he is not worthy enough for his own entitled happiness; and the other, who feels that she is not worthy that is why she needs him around to make her feel otherwise. All delusions. Continuous meaningless stories to keep them both bonded in the cycle of self hatred.
Yes. Self hatred is where I am getting at. And like it or not, it exists in all of us. We may put up a front that we are happy and how much we love ourselves, but question the doings, the thinking, the sayings all which exist only within your own existence. We will find that we have nowhere to hide. We are hardly at peace with ourselves.
Jesus says, “No one is harder on you as you are.” How true that is. No one can punish us any harder, than we would have ourselves punished by ourselves. Isn’t that madness? On the surface, we are afraid of being judged – when we have already begun the journey of judging ourselves way before anyone else could say or think anything of us.
To begin to love ourselves, is to begin the journey of inquiry. Inquiry, not enquiry – a process of self questioning, self reflection. And that can only be possible by bringing in self awareness. If our happiness is important to us, so will the happiness of others. And if it leads to long-term happiness by letting go of that someone, then it would lead the same long-term happiness for the person being let go. When we truly love ourselves unconditionally, no one else can get hurt. Only the hanging on of someone out there, or rather, more true to the idea of someone else capable of loving us more than we could love ourselves, and vice versa are we burying ourselves deeper in our suffering. Now, isn’t that a repulsive form of self hatred?