How can Buddhism help us accept ourselves?

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In Buddhism there is no such thing as a person who is lacking, inept or incapable. Period.

In fact, Buddhism sees each human being as “perfectly endowed,” meaning we are filled with endless courage, wisdom and compassion or Buddhability.

Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes,

In essence, every person’s life is perfect and complete—there is nothing extraneous to be subtracted and nothing lacking to be added.

But it’s hard to accept ourselves, just as we are, as being complete and perfect. Through the lens of our self-doubt, compliments can even feel like an insults, never mind setbacks or rejection.

If our self-doubt wasn’t bad enough, we live in a society that has ever-changing, discriminatory and contradictory standards of beauty, success and belonging. So if we are trying to measure our self-worth by these standards, it’s going to be a painful, never-ending battle to accept ourselves.

So how can Buddhism help us to accept ourselves?

Celebrating Differences

Even though we each have Buddhability, that doesn’t mean we are all the same. The 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin writes that human beings are like different flowers:

When one comes to realize and see that each thing—the cherry, the plum, the peach, the damson—in its own entity, without undergoing any change, possesses the eternally endowed three bodies … then this is what is meant by the word ryo, ‘to include’ or all-inclusive.

In other words, we are each completely unique and original, just like there are no two flowers alike in the world. In fact, our differences are wonderful and extraordinary. No matter what we look like, where we come from, whom we choose to love or what kind of style clothing we like—we each have Buddhahood within.

The real question is how to bring out our best selves, which are broad enough not only to embrace our lives but everyone around us.

The real question is how to bring out our best selves, which are broad enough not only to embrace our lives but everyone around us.

Bringing out our Best Self 

That’s where chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo comes in.

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, p. 97

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we blossom in a way that’s special to us. We each can make a contribution to the world that no one else can. That’s why we should not only accept ourselves, but have deep pride in what makes us unique.

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