Who and what we really are ~ 17th Karmapa

I think that one problem we have is that we think of ourselves, our lives and our identities in very materialistic terms. We especially nowadays identify so much with the material circumstances or facts of our existence, and we construct our identities and our attitude towards our entire lives based on this.

For example, we identify with our professions. If someone is a physician, then she thinks of herself as a physician – as though that defines who and what she is fundamentally. When we fixate on these externals, we put ourselves at risk.

For example, if you construct your identity based upon your work and you lose your job, then you lose your identity. Our identities are really our human nature, that innate capacity for love and compassion, that genuine human quality, which is who and what we really are. If we understand this, we will be independent of identification with externals, which will allow us to be content and to continue with internal development, in spite of any imperfections or lack in our external resources or circumstances. This is also conducive to healthy self-esteem.


17th Karmapa


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