Debbie Ford, spiritual teacher and author of many wonderful books, including The Dark Side of the Lightchasers and The Shadow Effect, died today of cancer at the age of 57. I loved her work, and although not a Buddhist teacher per se, so much of what she taught and represented resonated with me because of its similarities to some of my favorite Buddhist teachers, particularly her work on facing and working with our 'darker' aspects, rather than focusing only on the 'light'. She urged us to approach our more challenging emotions and thoughts in a loving way, instead of as 'bad' or as something that needs to be removed. She taught that it is important to be honest about all of our thoughts and emotions, and seek to understand them, and transmute them into expressions that are good for both us and others.
One of her favorite quotes urges us to love all aspects of ourselves, rather than thinking of our shadows as something we need to repress or excise from our being. As she says, "...for when I can love all of me, I will love all of you."
This to me is the true essence of Buddhism, especially Tantric Buddhism. It is not about 'perfecting' ourselves, judging ourselves, or trying to live up to some impossible standard of internal and external behavior. It is about truly facing and seeing all of our thoughts and emotions as they arise (this is mindfulness) and owning them all as part of us, as part of existence, as part of awareness. Moving beyond 'good' and 'bad'. Then we are truly able to feel a self-compassion that is based in oneness, and from that a compassion for others that is also based in oneness - not in desire to please others or 'be good'. It is a swelling from our heart.
Here is another one of my favorite quotes of hers:
"Each aspect within us needs understanding and compassion. If we are unwilling to give it to ourselves how can we expect the world to give it to us? As we are, so is the universe."
In her honor today, please practice facing and owning all parts of yourself with compassion. Feel free to share here if you like...
Edited by Lisa - Buddhism (02/19/13 04:40 AM)