Buddhism & the View of Oneself: How We See Ourselves & Compare to Others
In today’s modern world, it is a common habit to compare oneself to those around us. Are we living up to the expectations of others? Do we have as much wealth as our neighbor? Are we as beautiful as those we meet? These feelings can have a very negative impact on our lives. In Buddhism, the comparison of oneself to others is discouraged and considered harmful.
The Negative Impact of Self Comparisons
What happens when you compare yourself to others? First, this can de-center a person’s existence. Our self-determination loses power and it allows things and beings outside of ourselves to decide what the meaning of our lives will be. By spending all our time counting the fortune of our neighbor, we are doing nothing to achieve our goals or bring worth to our own lives. It’s an ongoing cycle that can be hard to break, especially with social media and today’s often competitive society.
Buddhism Means There’s Goodness in All of Us
Enlightenment should be sought from within. Buddhist priest Nichiren Daishonin stated that our “innate Buddhahood” gives us an absolute value of goodness. He referred to it using words like “eternally dwelling”, “originally endowed” and “unmade”. He explained that Buddhism is the good within us and does not require external conditions to exist. When we awaken this element inside, then we will discover true happiness.
It’s not easy to see the good in oneself. It’s important to remember to praise our unique value, but to do so for who we are and the essence of Buddhism within us. Doing so for other reasons can lead to pride and arrogance. When we appreciate ourselves, then we will be capable of truly appreciating those around us!