Healing from abuse vs holding "Self" as precious

Help required with personal difficulties.
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Re: Healing from abuse vs holding "Self" as precious

Post by emptydreams » Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:15 am

Hi there,

I'm also sort of a victim of abuse, it happened once and was a sexual nature, and it happened at a very young age so i do have an idea of how you're feeling here.

After many years of trying to "fix" myself with Dharma methods, and reconciling the very question that you have here (yes it' was a huge struggle), here's what i learnt.
self esteem dosent really come from knowing that you exist, but rather from what you can do for others. Your worth dosent come from others but on what and how you can help those who need your help.

holding the 'self' as precious actually means holding the idea of who you think you are as precious, the image of that self, the mask, not who you actually are. we all have an idea of what we are and sometimes if we get too obsessed in reinforcing this idea to the point of hurting others who challenge this idea, things actually take a huge turn for the worse. This self image is really bad for low self esteem because it doesnt fix the hold beneath the self esteem, its just a cover, and once people or situations peel or crack that cover, you'll be in pain. Its like putting scotch tape over a gun wound, or makeup over breakouts (which makes things worse but looks ok).

So, just let go of this idea of what you think you are, and focus on being the person you want to be. Help others, be altruistic, develop your own mind and heart. That is the best way to build self esteem.

im kinda speaking from my own experience in dealing with this question and low self esteem. I hope it helps.

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Re: Healing from abuse vs holding "Self" as precious

Post by Vajrasvapna » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:29 am

chökyi wrote:
I'm not saying it was the right thing to do, but I thought it was. My mother was as dangerous to herself as she was to me, if not more. As for my ex, he was more dangerous to others than himself. I wanted to help him overcome his cruelty (mostly fueled by his excessive, unhealthy pride) because I couldn't bear the idea of what he was capable of doing, so I tried being compassionate, I tried being understanding and supportive with him, but things degenerated to a point where my life was in danger. At that point I called it quits. In hindsight, I wasn't the right person for the task, and I am not denying staying with him might also have stemmed from the fact that being abused was a familiar pattern I was reiterating.
Yes you should develop compassion for yourself, because your body is a vehicle of compassion, people confuse detachment from self with self denial. And it is important to avoid negative people: "When evil companions are associated with, the three poisons increase, the activities of listening, pondering and meditation decline, and love and compassion are extinguished. Abandoning evil companions is the bodhisattvas’ practice." The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices
As for the others, the strangers who abused me, they can't be healthy people themselves. If you're ok you don't do certain things. If you can get pleasure or satisfaction from hurting another being who's crying and feeling helpless and can't even fight you back, what sort of life do you have? I know there's no such a thing as "normal", but if you can do that, you're seriously messed up. And dangerous. I don't hate them, I don't want them to suffer or whatnot - deep inside I just don't want people to harm other people who in turn will harm other people (more often than not, not because of genuine cruelty but rather because they are misguided and messed up), in such a senseless, stupid way...
The reason for all this suffering is ignorance and self-attachment, which ends up giving rise to all the suffering, as Shamar Rinpoche explains:
Since beginningless time, the minds of sentient beings have been engaged in samsaric activities. Uninterruptedly we have taken rebirths in both physical and mental forms. Despite the fact
that the forms themselves are unreal, they have held our minds without pause. For these. reasons, since beginningless time we have experienced the three kinds of suffering

Even the great yogini Yeshe Tsogyal went through an experience of sexual abuse; but due to the power of her mind, she was able to turn that experience into an expression of compassion, initiating the abusers to the nature of mind.
Even though it is difficult to imitate the behavior of great bodhisattvas, feed anger and hatred just makes everything worse for us, creating conditions for future suffering. Meditate on compassion just brings out the clarity that is our own nature:
"The natural state is empty yet full of beautiful, rich qualities. This clarity aspect of the nature includes loving-kindness, compassion, and wisdom. So, the nature of reality is the inseparable unity of both emptiness and compassion. But what is the result of meditating on the great emptiness described in the Prajnaparamita teachings? The result is that we uproot grasping and clinging, thereby revealing the emptiness aspect of buddha-nature. On the other hand, meditating on love, compassion, and kindness ignites the clarity that normally hides behind our negative emotions. This luminosity will then radiate to ourselves and others, reducing all thoughts of anger, jealousy, and hatred. By practicing in this way we will eventually uproot our negative tendencies.
For all these reasons, it is extremely important to practice on emptiness as well as clarity—both are innate aspects of the nature, and both work together to remove fabrications and duality, or the two obscurations." Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche

This is basically what eventually set me on the Dharma path.

It was the Dharma that actually taught me to being compassionate towards myself. That because in my practice I learnt to included myself among the sentient beings I want to treat with compassion. Prior to that I couldn't bear the thought of hurting others, but I did a lot to inflict pain to myself.

I do not hate myself, if I did I would have resolved to get over with this life a long time ago (solving nothing, apparently). But I do have a hard time believing other people can love me - or that I deserve their friendship/affection. Whenever I've opened up about my past to people I considered friends, they projected disgust on me and started distancing themselves from me.
Our suffering is important to motivate us to seek liberation. What motivation we would have without suffering? Shamar Rinpoche speaks about this:

"The reason we feel gratitude towards all sentient beings is that they provide us with never-ending opportunities to cultivate these virtues. Not only do we practice taking their suffering as our own, but in our daily encounters with them we are granted a precious chance to put our virtues into practice: when they behave in a self-centered way we. can cultivate patience, kindness and generosity; and when they behave in a virtuous way We can cultivate sympathetic joy and make the wish to become as self;. less as they. In either case, we owe our successful training to our encounters with all sentient beings and therefore feel gratitude towards them. Because they allow us to cultivate virtues, sentient beings are the direct cause of the perfect state of enlightenment.
They are the immediate requisites for us to break free of samsara.
Indeed, we should feel very grateful towards them. Reflect on the fact that those who appear to cause you harm are not really harming you. They are helping you to see that, the real cause of harm is you, your own ego. Without ego there can be no harm. These are the instructions to embark on the path of awakening by, transforming adversities with conventional bodhicitta."

It doesn't define my whole experience in Dharma circles, but it does reflect the attitude several people (Buddhist or else) have expressed to me. It's not uncommon on this forum either.
This is because of the ignorance of the people, they want to use Buddhism just to feed their egos, not to generate compassion.

chökyi wrote: Interesting. I remember coping with trauma during flashback by kind of stepping out of my body, and watching everything as in the 3rd person. I would see myself but not recognise myself as "me" - it was some person, any person. I couldn't bear to see any person being hurt that way. I learnt to comfort that "person" thinking about what I would have done if it had really been another person instead of me. That's how I learnt compassion.
All appearances that arise in your mind are as illusions or mirage. Because of our self-attachment and negative emotions, appearances arise as karmic creditors and enemies; But in the view of enlightened beings, they arise as aspects of wisdom and enlightenment. The idea is to train our minds in order to understand the appearances with a pure vision, as Shamar Rinpoche explains:
'Deluded appearance' refers to the fact that all the suffering and obstacles that are experienced are illusions, the deluded activity of a dualistic mind. When you really examine the negative or bad things that happen, you will clearly see that they are all like a dream. Using the techniques you have to analyze the empty nature of all phenomena and directly apply mindfulness of all experience, apply them to the sensations you experience as bad. You will discover "that these so-called bad experiences are the most useful to help you recognize the unborn nature of mind.

You may also try some kind of yoga and exercises, that will make you feel better.
I have a lot of love to give. But I also feel a longing for love and affection in life. I feel lonely. I've only started to make some genuine friends in the past year or so. I try my best to be a good friend to them, but I don't want to burden them with my problems, so I don't really know how much I should open up with them. I don't want to be defined by what happened to me in the past because it's past, and yet there are issues I am dealing with now that would be less confusing for them if they knew, I think.

Sometimes I need people to be patient to me. I'm not used to some things that are normal for them. I mean, even stupid things. Sometimes I end up branded as "unfriendly" or "nonsocial" because I don't participate in their heated debates about politics or the like. I can't stand conflict and I feel uncomfortable around people when they get agitated and wound up... and when it is over trivial things too, it doesn't make any sense to me.
People are thus always busy with their mundane activities, do not bother with what they say, learn to have confidence in herself. If you need a friend, take your own mind as a friend, your mind has all the positive qualities that you may need.
"People these days use whatever little dharma they know to augment afflictive emotion, and then engender tremendous pride and conceit over it. They teach the Dharma without taming their own minds. But as with a river rock , not even a hair’s tip of benefit penetrates the other people. Even worse, incorrigible people [are attracted] to this dharma that increases conflict. When individuals who could be tamed by the Dharma encounter such incorrigible, their desire for the sacred Dharma is lost. It is not the fault of the Dharma; it is the fault of individuals." Machik Labdron prophecy.

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Re: Healing from abuse vs holding "Self" as precious

Post by chökyi » Wed Dec 10, 2014 11:06 pm

I wanted to thank everyone who posted on this thread.

I've been coming back and reading your messages over and over again, at intervals, in the course of all these weeks. At first it took me time to manage to process all the input, but it's been invaluable. Today I manage to re-read everything, and once again I've found food for thought in the words of all of you.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and offer advice and perspective. It helps.

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