What other better topic to consider than our magnificent selves?
There is no one smarter, more beautiful and more worthy than our unique self. It is thanks to our own efforts that we have become so. After all, we have spent our entire life studying and working, nurturing ourselves and experiencing life in all its aspects, and even sometimes suffering. What we are right now is the culmination of this superhuman effort with not much more left to add to it. We are now what we have ably made ourselves to be. Without any hesitation, we are perfect in almost every respect. Respect is the right word and the more of it we are shown, the better we feel.
But is this really so?
If we are to look very sincerely at ourselves (and it takes ruthless sincerity to do so) and into the depths of our being, we will surely note imperfections that are outright obvious. We may think of ourselves as being exceptionally kind, when in fact we silently harbor ill feelings towards others. We may believe we have a most beautiful voice only to find out later that many other singers have even sweeter voices. We may think that we possess other exceptional qualities only to become disappointed when seeing that others are endowed with better ones.
When looking within ourselves, what we may not see right away are more imperfections of the same or different kind, yet more subtly veiled. Thanking somebody profusely in front of others as a way to show off one’s magnanimity is one example. Engaging in charitable activities, even if of the greatest kind, in order to brag about them or utilize them for personal gain, is yet another example. Thinking about ourselves as being righteous in every way, while occasionally not paying a bus or a parking fare, is to perpetuate a darker side of ourselves. Preaching to others while not walking the talk ourselves does not help things either.
What is striking is our limited ability to see ourselves from aside. But that is exactly what would be needed if we are to notice, come to terms and then correct whatever needs correcting. If you know you have an enemy, if you know enough about how your enemy operates, you can eventually defeat it. The same applies to our own effort for personal improvement, with the enemy being the negative aspects of our own personality.
What is even more difficult is to place ourselves in somebody else’s shoes and look at the world through their eyes. Doing so not only requires an open mind, plenty of goodwill and some imagination, but also strength of character. Going beyond our own persona and the fortress-like defenses that it has surrounded itself with, and doing so of our own accord, is perhaps the only effective and permanent way of growing into a better you.
Only then perhaps we stand a chance. And what a chance it is when a regular meditation practice is the means through which we discover, explore and polish the rough edges of our being! No one has ever said it would be easy, but it is worth a sincere try. It won’t be long that a simple exercise in spring cleaning of the lesser known chambers of our character will create enough enthusiasm and turn into an earnest wish to rebuild the foundation of the entire house. With patience, perseverance and enthusiasm, such work of self-improvement through meditation can lead to very tangible and immensely satisfying results.
Why then try to remain superficially magnificent when becoming sincerely good and happy is what we must be aiming for?
For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.