(Photo above by George Milton / Pexels)
Maybe we’re so sensitive that the slightest criticism destroys us. Or we spend hours wasting time obsessing over an almost insignificant detail. Or we’re so laid back that we put things off until it gets out of control.
Too often we’re ashamed of these behavior patterns and secretly think we are defective in some way. But Buddhism teaches that we don’t need to go there.
To practice Buddhism is to celebrate ourselves just as we are. That’s why we don’t need to change our personality; we just need to make it shine. In reality, the same personality traits we see as a weakness one day can be looked at as our strengths on another. So, we don’t need to change who we are, we just need to bring out our best selves.
To practice Buddhism is to celebrate ourselves just as we are. That’s why we don’t need to change our personality; we just need to make it shine.
Consider our personality like a river. Once its set into the earth, it doesn’t really change its course or path. Though the river is set, the water in the river is changeable. Maybe at one point it’s polluted or filled with waste, but it can be cleaned up and made clear and beautiful. Our life operates the same way. We can’t change our personality, but through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and studying Buddhism, we clean out the pollution that is our negativity, fear and doubt. Then the river of our life runs clear, and the personality traits we once considered weaknesses become our strengths.
Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes:
By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can cleanse our lives of negativity and impurities. We can push everything in the direction of happiness. For example, a person’s shyness can be transformed into valuable qualities such as prudence and discretion, while someone’s impatience might be transformed into a knack for getting things done quickly and efficiently.
Discussions on Youth, pp. 231–32
And the list goes on. If we are sensitive, we can use that personality trait to understand how others feel and relate to them. If we obsess over little things, we can transform that into an ability to make detailed plans that make things run smoothly.
Instead of beating ourselves up for being too impatient or too laid back or too obsessive, we should set time aside to chant and reflect on how these qualities can also be our strengths. This can help give us a sense of appreciation and pride for who we are.
Our personality is distinct and unique; there has never been anyone quite like us. Buddhism celebrates our differences. That’s why comparing ourselves to others is so unproductive. Instead we can chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to bring out the best version of us and make a unique contribution to the world that no one else can.