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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
15 spring 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly inspire the students with depth, wisdom, and clarity. Then Jack Kornfield would weave his magic spell, enchanting and moving them with poignant stories and stirring words. Sha- ron Salzberg would bring them to tears with her guided loving-kindness meditations. Then it would be my turn. I knew full well that if I were a student, I would be wishing this kid would get off the stage so the senior teachers could speak again. In desperation I tracked down my some- time-mentor Ram Dass to see if he had any advice. He did. “Don’t try to be another Joseph Goldstein,” he said. “There already is one. Just be the best Jamie Baraz you can be. There’s only one of those, and you’re it. What if you just let yourself be who you are and see what you have to offer those students? Who knows? You may even like what you see.” There’s only one of you, and if you let yourself be the best one of yourself possible, you may also like what you see. In time you may even love yourself. For many of us, the idea of loving ourselves may seem out of reach. But if you know how to love someone else, you have what it takes to love yourself. Think about what it’s like to love someone. For instance, when I think of our son Adam my heart naturally begins to open. I become aware of that distinct combi- nation of traits I sense as his essence—his insa- tiable curiosity about how the mind works, his mischievous spirit, the “edge” as he calls it, that is a counterbalance to his tenderness, his charming personality, the genuine good- ness that radiates from his heart. Even the quirky traits that sometimes drive me crazy can seem endearing when I hold them in the broader context of his goodness and poten- tial. If I were to focus only on the negative, I would lose touch with all the amazingly good stuff. My love for him is there no matter what. The secret is to offer this same kind of love to yourself—to love and accept the whole package. Learning to love yourself is a process that evolves over time. It begins with letting go of self-criticism and forgiving yourself for being who you are. We forgive ourselves for habits and behaviors we continue to get caught in that are less than wholesome. We forgive our bodies for how they look or for how they function, forgive our minds for being scat- tered or not being smart enough, forgive our personalities for not being witty or interesting enough. As you stop focusing on what you don’t appreciate and start seeing yourself as a unique, mysterious, changing being, you allow your best self to shine through. And the joy of that radiates out to the world. From awakening Joy, by James baraz, Published by bantam books, January 2010. beWare oF the expert mind The more you practice, the more careful you need to be, warns Zen Master Bon Shim. Once there was a sick man who went to many doctors for help, but they only spread their arms helplessly—they were not able to help him. At last he found a wise, old man who was an herbalist. He said, “I can help you. Not far away from here in the forest, in the mountains, grows a medicinal plant. If you look for it according to my instructions, patiently and carefully, you will surely find it, and will be healthy again.” So this man, feeling very happy, set off to look for the plant. At the beginning of his search, he was alert, and he patiently and carefully looked around. But as time passed, he became less careful—he noticed many interesting bushes, and beautiful rocks and stones, and slowly, slowly, he forgot about the kiMscafuro