Teacher: When and how often do we look at ourselves in a mirror?
Student: When we brush our teeth, shave, comb our hair, clean our face, put and remove our makeup, also when we check how we look, etc.
Teacher: How often do you look at yourself without doing any of the above?
Student: Weird question...never.
Teacher: OK...Now: how often do you look at the mirror and ...smile at yourself?
Student: Does not make sense! It is goofy, narcissist and absurd. What is your point?
Teacher: Yes it sounds pretty stupid if not somewhat narcissist isn’t it? But think twice.
Smiling at self will greatly help you become friend with yourself and being friend with yourself is the first step to know yourself and to know self is the first step to know others.
Student: I guess...What is your point?
Teacher: Zen says that knowing our real self is discovering our True Nature and our True Nature is perfect. Most of us have a poor image of ourselves. It can be physical, intellectual, emotional, and societal. Aging does not help. The root of this distorted self-image is our modern society brainwashing us to be perfect all the time in all aspects. We have to be beautiful, sexy, smart, rich, young, social, witty, funny, etc. But achieving “perfection” in everything is impossible because there is no qualitative and quantitative definition of perfection.... except in our ego mind...and we are trapped by our ego. We are the only living beings suffering from poor self-image. Surely our little dog Zap does not have this issue do deal with.
We all know that it is almost impossible to smile at someone we dislike. It is also impossible to smile at ourselves if we have a poor self-image. On the contrary we do not hesitate to smile at someone we like, love, appreciate and trust. We must learnto do the same thing with ourselves in order to improve progressively our self-image and to accept self as we are even if improvement is possible.
Student: Do you mean that smiling at myself will work?
Teacher: It will.... progressively.
So start to practice your own acceptance by watching yourself in a mirror for few seconds once a while until you feel comfortable. Then repeat this exercise with a little smile.By accepting yourself it will become easier to discover the hidden features of your inner self. They are far more positive than you think.It is only after discovering your real self that your self-image will improve; and an improved self-image is necessary if you want to assist other living beings.
Thank you Ven. Ji Gong Sunim. Sept 10th 2015