Star Wars Sale
 
 

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN!

Weekly drawing for $100 credit. Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

More at Powell's


Recently Viewed clear list


The Powell's Playlist | June 18, 2014

Daniel H. Wilson: IMG The Powell’s Playlist: Daniel H. Wilson



Like many writers, I'm constantly haunting coffee shops with a laptop out and my headphones on. I listen to a lot of music while I write, and songs... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Robogenesis

    Daniel H. Wilson 9780385537094

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$10.95
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Beaverton Religion Eastern- Buddhism
1 Burnside Religion Eastern- Buddhism

More copies of this ISBN

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha

by

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha Cover

ISBN13: 9780553380996
ISBN10: 0553380990
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 2 left in stock at $10.95!

 

 

Excerpt

The Trance of Unworthiness

You will be walking some night . . .

It will be clear to you suddenly

that you were about to escape,

and that you are guilty: you misread

the complex instructions, you are not

a member, you lost your card

or never had one . . .

Wendell Berry

For years I've had a recurring dream in which I am caught in a futile struggle to get somewhere. Sometimes I'm running up a hill; sometimes I am climbing over boulders or swimming against a current. Often a loved one is in trouble or something bad is about to happen. My mind is speeding frantically, but my body feels heavy and exhausted; I move as if through molasses. I know I should be able to handle the problem, but no matter how hard I try, I can't get where I need to go. Completely alone and shadowed by the fear of failure, I am trapped in my dilemma. Nothing else in the world exists but that.

This dream captures the essence of the trance of unworthiness. In our dreams we often seem to be the protagonist in a pre-scripted drama, fated to react to our circumstances in a given way. We seem unaware that choices and options might exist. When we are in the trance and caught up in our stories and fears about how we might fail, we are in much the same state. We are living in a waking dream that completely defines and delimits our experience of life. The rest of the world is merely a backdrop as we struggle to get somewhere, to be a better person, to accomplish, to avoid making mistakes. As in a dream, we take our stories to be the truth--a compelling reality--and they consume most of our attention. While we eat lunch or drive home from work, while we talk to our partners or read to our children at night, we continue to replay our worries and plans. Inherent in the trance is the belief that no matter how hard we try, we are always, in some way, falling short.

Feeling unworthy goes hand in hand with feeling separate from others, separate from life. If we are defective, how can we possibly belong? It's a vicious cycle: The more deficient we feel, the more separate and vulnerable we feel. Underneath our fear of being flawed is a more primal fear that something is wrong with life, that something bad is going to happen. Our reaction to this fear is to feel blame, even hatred, toward whatever we consider the source of the problem: ourselves, others, life itself. But even when we have directed our aversion outward, deep down we still feel vulnerable.

Our feelings of unworthiness and alienation from others give rise to various forms of suffering. For some, the most glaring expression is addiction. It may be to alcohol, food or drugs. Others feel addicted to a relationship, dependent on a particular person or people in order to feel they are complete and that life is worth living. Some try to feel important through long hours of grueling work--an addiction that our culture often applauds. Some create outer enemies and are always at war with the world.

The belief that we are deficient and unworthy makes it difficult to trust that we are truly loved. Many of us live with an undercurrent of depression or hopelessness about ever feeling close to other people. We fear that if they realize we are boring or stupid, selfish or insecure, they'll reject us. If we're not attractive enough, we may never be loved in an intimate, romantic way. We yearn for an unquestioned experience of belonging, to feel at home with ourselves and others, at ease and fully accepted. But the trance of unworthiness keeps the sweetness of belonging out of reach.

The trance of unworthiness intensifies when our lives feel painful and out of control. We may assume that our physical sickness or emotional depression is our own fault--the result of our bad genes or our lack of discipline and willpower. We may feel that the loss of a job or a painful divorce is a reflection of our personal flaws. If we had only done better, if we were somehow different, things would have gone right. While we might place the blame on someone else, we still tacitly blame ourselves for getting into the situation in the first place.

Even if we ourselves are not suffering or in pain, if someone close to us--a partner or a child--is, we can take this as further proof of our inadequacy. One of my psychotherapy clients has a thirteen-year-old son who was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. She has tried everything she can to help--doctors, diet, acupuncture, drugs, love. Yet still he suffers from academic setbacks and feels socially isolated. He is convinced that he is a "loser" and, out of pain and frustration, frequently lashes out in rage. Regardless of her loving efforts, she lives in anguish, feeling that she is failing her son and should be doing more.

The trance of unworthiness doesn't always show up as overt feelings of shame and deficiency. When I told a good friend that I was writing about unworthiness and how pervasive it is, she took issue. "My main challenge isn't shame, it's pride," she insisted. This woman, a successful writer and teacher, told me how easily she gets caught up in feeling superior to others. She finds many people mentally slow and boring. Because so many people admire her, she often rides surges of feeling special and important. "I'm embarrassed to admit it," she said, "and maybe this is where shame fits in. But I like having people look up to me . . . that's when I feel good about myself." My friend is playing out the flip side of the trance. She went on to acknowledge that during dry periods, times when she isn't feeling productive or useful or admired, she does slip into feeling unworthy. Rather than simply recognizing her talents and enjoying her strengths, she needs the reassurance of feeling special or superior.

Convinced that we are not good enough, we can never relax. We stay on guard, monitoring ourselves for shortcomings. When we inevitably find them, we feel even more insecure and undeserving. We have to try even harder. The irony of all of this is . . . where do we think we are going anyway? One meditation student told me that he felt as if he were steamrolling through his days, driven by the feeling that he needed to do more. In a wistful tone he added, "I'm skimming over life and racing to the finish line--death."

When I talk about the suffering of unworthiness in my meditation classes, I frequently notice students nodding their heads, some of them in tears. They may be realizing for the first time that the shame they feel is not their own personal burden, that it is felt by many. Afterward some of them stay to talk. They confide that feeling undeserving has made it impossible for them to ask for help or to let themselves feel held by another's love. Some recognize that their sense of unworthiness and insecurity has kept them from realizing their dreams. Often students tell me that their habit of feeling chronically deficient has made them continually doubt that they are meditating correctly and mistrust that they are growing spiritually.

A number of them have told me that, in their early days on the spiritual path, they assumed their feelings of inadequacy would be transcended through a dedicated practice of meditation. Yet even though meditation has helped them in important ways, they find that deep pockets of shame and insecurity have a stubborn way of persisting--sometimes despite decades of practice. Perhaps they have pursued a style of meditation that wasn't well suited for their emotional temperament, or perhaps they needed the additional support of psychotherapy to uncover and heal deep wounds. Whatever the reasons, the failure to relieve this suffering through spiritual practice can bring up a basic doubt about whether we can ever be truly happy and free.

Bringing an Unworthy Self into Spiritual Life

In their comments, I hear echoes of my own story. After graduating from college, I moved into an ashram, a spiritual community, and enthusiastically devoted myself to the lifestyle for almost twelve years. I felt I had found a path through which I could purify myself and transcend the imperfections of my ego--the self and its strategies. We were required to awaken every day at 3:30 a.m., take a cold shower, and then from four until six-thirty do a sadhana (spiritual discipline) of yoga, meditation, chanting and prayer. By breakfast time I often felt as if I were floating in a glowing, loving, blissful state. I was at one with the loving awareness I call the Beloved and experienced this to be my own deepest essence. I didn't feel bad or good about myself, I just felt good.

By the end of breakfast, or a bit later in the morning, my habitual thoughts and behaviors would start creeping in again. Just as they had in college, those ever-recurring feelings of insecurity and selfishness would let me know I was falling short. Unless I found the time for more yoga and meditation, I would often find myself feeling once again like my familiar small-minded, not-okay self. Then I'd go to bed, wake up and start over again.

While I touched genuine peace and openheartedness, my inner critic continued to assess my level of purity. I mistrusted myself for the ways I would pretend to be positive when underneath I felt lonely or afraid. While I loved the yoga and meditation practices, I was embarrassed by my need to impress others with the strength of my practice. I wanted others to see me as a deep meditator and devoted yogi, a person who served her world with care and generosity. Meanwhile, I judged other people for being slack in their discipline, and judged myself for being so judgmental. Even in the midst of community, I often felt lonely and alone.

I had the idea that if I really applied myself, it would take eight to ten years to release all my self-absorption and be wise and free. Periodically I would consult teachers I admired from various other spiritual traditions: "So, how am I doing? What else can I do?" Invariably, they would respond, "Just relax." I wasn't exactly sure what they meant, but I certainly didn't think it could be "just relax." How could they mean that? I wasn't "there" yet.

Chögyam Trungpa, a contemporary Tibetan Buddhist teacher, writes, "The problem is that ego can convert anything to its own use, even spirituality." What I brought to my spiritual path included all my needs to be admired, all my insecurities about not being good enough, all my tendencies to judge my inner and outer world. The playing field was larger than my earlier pursuits, but the game was still the same: striving to be a different and better person.

In retrospect, it is no surprise that my self-doubts were transferred intact into my spiritual life. Those who feel plagued by not being good enough are often drawn to idealistic worldviews that offer the possibility of purifying and transcending a flawed nature. This quest for perfection is based in the assumption that we must change ourselves to belong. We may listen longingly to the message that wholeness and goodness have always been our essence, yet still feel like outsiders, uninvited guests at the feast of life.

A Culture That Breeds Separation and Shame

Several years ago a small group of Buddhist teachers and psychologists from the United States and Europe invited the Dalai Lama to join them in a dialogue about emotions and health. During one of their sessions, an American vipassana teacher asked him to talk about the suffering of self-hatred. A look of confusion came over the Dalai Lama's face. "What is self-hatred?" he asked. As the therapists and teachers in the room tried to explain, he looked increasingly bewildered. Was this mental state a nervous disorder? he asked them. When those gathered confirmed that self-hatred was not unusual but rather a common experience for their students and clients, the Dalai Lama was astonished. How could they feel that way about themselves, he wondered, when "everybody has Buddha nature."

While all humans feel ashamed of weakness and afraid of rejection, our Western culture is a breeding ground for the kind of shame and self-hatred the Dalai Lama couldn't comprehend. Because so many of us grew up without a cohesive and nourishing sense of family, neighborhood, community or "tribe," it is not surprising that we feel like outsiders, on our own and disconnected. We learn early in life that any affiliation--with family and friends, at school or in the workplace--requires proving that we are worthy. We are under pressure to compete with each other, to get ahead, to stand out as intelligent, attractive, capable, powerful, wealthy. Someone is always keeping score.

After a lifetime of working with the poor and the sick, Mother Teresa's surprising insight was: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging." In our own society, this disease has reached epidemic proportions. We long to belong and feel as if we don't deserve to.

Buddhism offers a basic challenge to this cultural worldview. The Buddha taught that this human birth is a precious gift because it gives us the opportunity to realize the love and awareness that are our true nature. As the Dalai Lama pointed out so poignantly, we all have Buddha nature. Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion.

In stark contrast to this trust in our inherent worth, our culture's guiding myth is the story of Adam and Eve's exile from the Garden of Eden. We may forget its power because it seems so worn and familiar, but this story shapes and reflects the deep psyche of the West. The message of "original sin" is unequivocal: Because of our basically flawed nature, we do not deserve to be happy, loved by others, at ease with life. We are outcasts, and if we are to reenter the garden, we must redeem our sinful selves. We must overcome our flaws by controlling our bodies, controlling our emotions, controlling our natural surroundings, controlling other people. And we must strive tirelessly--working, acquiring, consuming, achieving, e-mailing, overcommitting and rushing--in a never-ending quest to prove ourselves once and for all.

Growing up Unworthy

In their book Stories of the Spirit, Jack Kornfield and Christina Feldman tell this story: A family went out to a restaurant for dinner. When the waitress arrived, the parents gave their orders. Immediately, their five-year-old daughter piped up with her own: "I'll have a hot dog, french fries and a Coke." "Oh no you won't," interjected the dad, and turning to the waitress he said, "She'll have meat loaf, mashed potatoes, milk." Looking at the child with a smile, the waitress said, "So, hon, what do you want on that hot dog?" When she left, the family sat stunned and silent. A few moments later the little girl, eyes shining, said, "She thinks I'm real."

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

kellerkm85, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by kellerkm85)
This book changed my perspective on what is a successful life. I believe Im happier and more fulfilled from reading this book. Tara Brach is a brilliant woman with a lot of wisdom to impart.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Michael McGarry, August 9, 2009 (view all comments by Michael McGarry)
This is a wonderful book for anyone who wrestles with issues of self-love and self-acceptance. Dr. Brach is a engaging writer who illustrates her points with stories from her own practice as a therapist. She demonstrates a whole new way of being, a whole new way of relating to our experiences and the people around us. She makes abundantly clear that self-love is not self-indulgence, but rather an intelligent and pragmatic approach to our inner world. She discusses becoming more aware of one's body & one's bodily experiences; being more mindful and conscious in the experience of desires; and even how mindfulness and acceptance can help in experience of fear and physical pain. After each chapter, she has one or two guided meditation exercise to ground the ideas experientially in the reader. Anyone who made an ongoing habit of even a handful of these meditation exercises would transform their entire life. Overall, this book is a gift in many ways, and it has become my new favorite book to give to friends and family members. I heartily recommend this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(5 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780553380996
Author:
Brach, Tara
Publisher:
Bantam
Subject:
General
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
Psychotherapy - General
Subject:
Personal Growth - Self-Esteem
Subject:
Buddhism
Subject:
Religion Eastern-Buddhism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20041131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.26x5.54x.77 in. .64 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. A Path with Heart: A Guide Through...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50
  2. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of...
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  3. Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108...
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  4. On the Day You Were Born Used Hardcover $2.95
  5. Buddhism Without Beliefs: A...
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  6. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
    Used Trade Paper $2.95

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Self Esteem
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » General

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Bantam Books - English 9780553380996 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , US
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.