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The practice of 'no-esteem'

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

I know the thread title sounds odd, so let me explain. In my readings (and unfortunately I don't have a sutra quote at the ready) it was mentioned that the Buddha admonished his followers to not compare themselves to others. You shouldn't say to yourself, oh I'm so much better than so and so at making doilies, or negatively either, as in so-and-so is so much smarter than I am. The reference I seem to remember also said one shouldn't even make, um, equal comparisons like: "I'm just as good as Bob at running a company." That's why I'm calling this sort of attitude/practice "no-esteem."

As someone with rather low self-esteem, this is really, really hard for me. I find myself pretty regularly comparing myself negatively to others. As a sort of antidote I guess, I also sometimes try to compare myself positively to others (I believe this is the usual Western prescription for self-criticism.)

I think somewhere else it is mentioned that this is self-serving in some manner, though the exact quote and meaning isn't coming to mind. While there may be some truth to this, I think it can also become an ingrained habit of mind.

Any tips or practices for making this approach easier?

Vastmindperson

Comments

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited September 13

    If it was me…….I would have had the sutra quote on ready.
    :p

    I kinda like the title. There’s a lot there to meditate on. My approach is really a few mantras I have taped up….like “I’m not going to compare myself today to anyone. I’m just trying to be/do better than myself from yesterday”. On the other hand, I try to equalize as oppose to compare…like “that person appears to be better than me at this, that, or the other…but they’ve gone thru things just like me and life can suck for them too bec of the human experience. Everyone puts on pants one leg at a time, and most importantly death meets us all, no matter how you might “compare” to me.

    Disclosure: this wise approach works only about 2 days out of the week, haha…I’ll keep trying…

    personlobsternakazcidShoshin1
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I believe the Buddhist term is conceit. And unlike the western notion it does also concern itself with comparisons of equivalence.

    My sort of thought on this as I was reading was pretty much identical to @Vastmind. Shift the focus of comparison to your past self. We're all dealt a certain hand in life and all we can really do is keep trying to do better today than we did yesterday. Someone else will always be better than you at some things and you'll always be better than someone else.

    Something that just came to me is the shift is a sort of psychological shift from an externally focused social mindset to an inward focused spiritual one.

    lobsternakazcidShoshin1
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited September 14

    You shouldn't say to yourself, oh I'm so much better than so and so at making doilies, or negatively either, as in so-and-so is so much smarter than I am.

    You cannot practice non-comparison. So long as you identify yourself as a person or Mr Xyz the comparison is automatic.

    Once this identification stops, the comparison also stops for there is nothing to compare with anymore. It is not a practice but a realization that you are not a human being.

    "'A being,' lord. 'A being,' it's said. To what extent is one said to be 'a being'?"
    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn23/sn23.002.than.html

    However, there are things that you can still practice to come to that realization. To realise your true nature.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.002.than.html

    lobsterFleaMarketKotishkaShoshin1
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited September 14

    Any tips or practices for making this approach easier?

    When we are better at no esteem BUT in a detrimental or impeded way … we don't do it. We make better whatever we are better at. And if kind of kind, then we express that as best we can.
    In other words now is not the right time for doing this as a 'practice'. Too hard.

    This is spiritual friendship/equality. Everyone has something to offer, even the hell dwellers and the lower (so culled) can bring us higher.

    In this sense we are a mess-age or message of our being. All beings welcome. Even those we kill, impede, stir up or ideally allow to unfold …

    We are not nihilists or Annihilists not even for a spell …
    https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/science-of-mind#emotional-hygiene

    FleaMarket
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    For me, the key point was to realise that you are unique, an essential part of the tapestry of life, neither greater nor lesser nor even equal to others. This came to me when I was quite young, I think about fifteen, and I’ve lived without comparison since.

    nakazcid
  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran
    edited September 14

    Comparison can be a force for good… how the pursuit of excellence and a competitive spirit led a man to become a monk, and lead his 500 followers to do likewise, see the Gavesin Sutra:

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an05/an05.180.than.html

    FleaMarket
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @Jeroen said:
    For me, the key point was to realise that you are unique, an essential part of the tapestry of life, neither greater nor lesser nor even equal to others.

    This makes sense to me too. You don't have to be the best or the worst to be a valuable and contributing member of society.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    I've been thinking about some of the suggestions and practices here, but I'm not sure they address another angle of the problem: the so-called inner critic. Suppose you make a mistake, and the voice in your head screams at you "You f**king idiot, how could you do something so utterly clueless and stupid!! You're a complete waste of space!"

    This doesn't seem to be a problem of comparing oneself to others, but something else entirely - at least on the face of it. Any tips for countering that tendency?

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