Our fundamental desire to be happy and free

“Once I was giving a teaching on love. The theme of the talk was that everyone has love within them. No matter what the circumstance, who you are, or where you are in the world, you have love 24 hours a day — even when you are feeling anger or hatred. During this talk, it looked to me like all the students were very happy. I was, too.

After the talk, when I left the auditorium, I saw a man waiting for me outside. Immediately he approached me and asked if we could speak privately. Once we had moved away from the others, he confided, ‘The story you taught about everybody having love is a beautiful idea. It’s really appealing, and I liked it. But I need to let you know — it’s not true for me. Maybe all those other people in the audience always have love, but not me. I hate myself every second of the day.’

I listened to everything he had to say. Then I asked him why he had come to my talk. He replied, ‘Well, I was hoping to learn something from you.’ I asked him why he had been hoping this. ‘Because,’ he said, ‘I desperately want to get away from this feeling of self-hatred. I came to you wishing I could finally be free of it.’

I asked him where he lived, which, as it turned out, was quite a distance away. He’d had to buy a plane ticket to get to my talk and take a little time off work, too. ‘So, it took money, time, and energy to make this journey,’ I said, ‘all to get to this teaching of mine. It wasn’t that easy. And yet you made all this effort. Why? Because you want to be free from this feeling of self-hatred. You want to be happy. So actually, you do care for yourself. This is love.’ Then, he understood.

Although sometimes you, too, may feel that you hate yourself and think, “Oh, I’m useless . . . I’m not good enough . . . There are many people who don’t like me,” that is normal. But you should understand that on a deeper level, all these apparently negative feelings are, in fact, coming from love. They are an expression of your fundamental desire to be happy and free from suffering — your innate goodness.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche

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