A lot of us don’t feel like we’re enough.
We wish we were smarter, funnier, richer, healthier, more creative, successful and attractive. We wish we were enough to make someone feel loved and happy. Maybe we wish we were enough for someone to stay home at night. This list goes on and on, but they all have three things in common: ourselves, someone else, and feelings of inadequacy.
Sometimes that someone else isn’t really someone else. It could even be an imaginary version of ourselves that we carry around in our minds and compare ourselves to. Where did that person come from anyway? Maybe they’re from the past, from when we were “better” than we are now. Sometimes they’re in the future, in the magical land of Could-Be. The Could-Be Me is someone we picked up from our friends, parents, peers, teachers, and the media.
One place we didn’t get it from is our genes, because there’s no universal sign of success, attraction, wealth, health, intelligence, etc. It varies from culture to culture and changes over time. If it was part of us, in our blood, then that wouldn’t be the case. So it’s something we picked up along the way. That means we can set it down, too.
How? First we need to realize why the whole thing’s ridiculous.
Let’s say Jim wants to be richer. He finds a penny on the sidewalk, and even though he’s technically richer than before, he doesn’t feel like it. So he dedicates his life to accumulating wealth. He saves up a hundred dollars, a thousand, 10,000, 100,000, a fucking million dollars and does he feel wealthy enough? Not at all, because that million could be two million, or a billion.
The problem with wanting to be adequate is that there’s no such thing. We could always be smarter, always be funnier, kinder, more attractive or more #woke. There’s no end to it, and it also goes the other way: we could always be uglier, dumber, more out of shape and more impoverished.
So, when we take one value and put it on an infinite scale, then that value loses its, well, value. One and a trillion are both equal in infinity. They’re only different when we limit our field of view. When our view is confined, then we’re never good enough; when it’s as open as the sky, then we’ve always been good enough—even when we didn’t feel like it.
No one’s inadequate. Everyone’s good enough.
What’s isn’t adequate or good enough is our views, and the way we view things determines almost everything else in our lives. That’s where meditation comes in. We’re settling and training our minds so that we can get in touch with a limitless view of this limitless life.
If we follow the traditional meditation path—settling the mind, concentrating it, and then watching it—then our sense of self starts to open up. We see that we’re not this body, these surroundings, or mental processes (and neither is anyone else). What we took to be a solid person who has a body, is more like an ocean or space. Is space inadequate? Fuck no, sometimes an area of it is just filled up with shit.
Alright, cool, we’ve just ripped the rug out from under everything in involved in not feeling like we’re enough. Really, you don’t even need to focus on all of that; just working with one part of it is enough, because everything’s interdependent. If you can even see through one factor behind feelings of inadequacy, then the whole feeling will disappear. The same way a car without a wheel can’t drive.
We don’t need to work at seeing through self, other, and the interaction between them. Just seeing how one of those nodes is empty shows how all of them are, including the Gestalt we make by putting them altogether.
Anshi is the pen-name for a Buddhist writer. If you know who Anshi is, please don’t tell anyone since these posts often have sensitive autobiographical info in them. Anshi is a Mahayana Buddhist priest at the Bodhisattva Process.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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