What Tibet Can Teach the West about Self-Worth
Once you have that kind of ability to relate to your own situation with kindness, says Thupten Jinpa, it creates a kind of a reservoir of strength and resilience so that you have plenty to draw from.
Thupten Jinpa Langri has been a principal English translator to the Dalai Lama since 1985. He has translated and edited more than ten books by the Dalai Lama including The World of Tibetan Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 1993), A Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus (Wisdom Publications, 1996), and the New York Times bestseller Ethics for the New Millennium (Riverhead, 1999).
Thupten Jinpa Langri was born in Tibet in 1958. He received his early education and training as a monk at Zongkar Choede Monastery in Hunsur near Mysore, Karnataka, South India and later joined the Shartse College of Ganden monastic university, in Mundgod, Karnataka, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. He taught Buddhist epistemology, metaphysics, Middle Way philosophy and Buddhist psychology at Ganden for five years. Jinpa also holds a B.A. Honors degree in Western Philosophy and a Ph.D. degree in Religious Studies, both from Cambridge University, UK.
From 1996 to 1999, he was the Margaret Smith Research Fellow in Eastern Religion at Girton College, Cambridge and he has now established the Institute of Tibetan Classics where he is both president and editor-in-chief of the Institute's translation series Classics in Tibet. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Mind and Life Institute, dedicated to fostering creative dialogue between the Buddhist tradition and Western science.
He is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences at Stanford University.
Geshe Thupten Jinpa has written many books and articles. His latest is A Fearless Heart: How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives.
Thupten Jinpa: We learned from a very early age to make our sense of self-worth conditional upon some kind of external criteria, which can be judged by others. Because of this, self-compassion becomes a challenge because self-compassion requires a natural ability on your part to be able to deal with your failures as well as successes with understanding, acceptance, and kindness. The problem I see with the self-esteem movement particularly is that self-esteem movement again — in a kind of — plays into this tendency to make your sense of worth conditional upon what you achieve. And inevitably that involves comparison with others. And, you know, and there’s also a moral problem there because in order to boost your self-esteem, sometimes you need to put down others in our mind. Whereas self-compassion doesn’t require any of that. What self-compassion is suggesting is that you should be able do the same thing that you normally do to someone that you care about towards yourself. And the beauty of that is that once you have that kind of ability to relate to your own situation with kindness, it creates a kind of a reservoir of strength and resilience so that you have plenty to draw from. Because otherwise if your compassion is always other-directed and you do not take care of your own needs and your own well-being, at some point this kind of leads to compassion fatigue. And even in some cases when the relationship does not work and when there is not enough recognition coming from the recipient side, you might even feel betrayed and let down and used and ultimately even feeling bitterness. So having a greater base of self-compassion really buffers against all of this potentially and negative consequences of being always too much other-focused.
Self-compassion becomes a challenge to some people because self-compassion requires a natural ability on their part to be able to deal with failures as well as successes with understanding, acceptance, and kindness. Once you have that kind of ability to relate to your own situation with kindness, says Thupten Jinpa, it creates a kind of a reservoir of strength and resilience so that you have plenty to draw from. Jinpa is the author of A Fearless Heart.
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