“If you want to know your past life
Look at your present condition.
If you want to know your future life,
look at your present actions”
I am a Buddhist, I try to live mindully. I try to do good for others and for myself. I try to walk the Noble Eightfold Path. I try to choose the Middle Way between two extremes. I see death as the only certainty. I try to live in the present moment. I meditate, I calm and train my mind. The path is clear, I only have to walk it. I try to love the world in its entirety. I trust the universe.
I am a Borderliner. I live on impulses, I get angry and irritated and violent, I get depressed and sometimes get stuck in desperation. I think in black and white opposites. I sometimes see death as the only solution. I live in the past. I dissociate. I fear for the future. I erupt into extreme anger, my mind races around uncontrollably. I don’t see the path anymore, I get lost in life. I hate people and society. I don’t know anymore.
That’s the two opposites that jerk me around daily and since my car accident a few weeks ago, I haven’t been myself anymore. My PTSD jumped back up into my mind. I am quickly irritated and often desperate, just to feel allright again a couple of minutes later. I have been able to control my anger better fort he past two weeks, that’s a good thing. But I am so tired. Even if I sleep enough, I am just tired.
The company doctor thinks I am fit to start working again and immediately there are all kinds of instances pulling me around, trying to fit me into frame in order to find a suitable job for me. Last week I did some basic personality and jobfinding-tests. The results were no surprise to me. I have done so many tests and evaluations, next to self-reflection in therapy over the past years with the mental-health instances. Still, the feeling of forcefully being pressed into the system again, as system that I not agree with, feels frightening. I feel I am losing grip and I’m becoming powerless and powerlesness always leads to anger and aggression in my case.
I have written a blog entry on this recently. In two weeks I have to see the company doctor again for evaluation, but whenever I get there I play the part of the perfect client, from the inside I freeze and I just say ‘yes’ to every question, while I am actually getting extremely confused and stressed. The thought of having to go there already frightens me. Friends of mine with BPD have not been able to work at all. Other bloggers with BPD do not work and can not work, some of you do have nice jobs. But why should I be able to work if I feel I can’t? I can only work if I find a job that truly suits me, like I described in the aforementioned blog! I need to follow the Noble Eightfold Path and find work that corresponds with who I am and what I stand for, which is expressed beautifully in the following quote by Buddhist scholar Lily de Silva in her book ‘One foot in the world’:
“Wealth earned by the sweat of one’s brow without harming, deceiving or exploiting others never has a prescribed ceiling of income.”
Then there is the car accident I had a couple of weeks ago, about which I also blogged. My PTSD symptoms have been enforced by it and I find new levels of stress and fear within myself that I cannot properly cope with. I keep on diving back into the past, specifically worrying about things that have happened but which I cannot change. I am worrying about past relationships. As a Buddhist, I know that the past is dead and unchangeable, it simply does not exist anymore, so you don’t have to worry about it. Life is only available in the present moment. But still, my subconscious sometimes beats me.
I have been feeling worthless lately, because I don’t have a job and a ‘normal’ life. But then again I realise that I have so much time available to do things that really matter to me now. And still I am not content, still I am suffering, while the Buddha’s Dharma teaches you to be happy with what you do have. I am creating a self-image that I want to live up to. Buddhism teaches about anatta, the non-self. You should let go of the image you construct of yourself, instead you should see yourself for who you actually are. If you apply the concept of Interbeing you will come to understand that you are part of the world, not just an independently existing individual fed by Ego! Ego is actually a lack of knowledge about who you really are.
The Buddha teaches us:
“All conditioned phenomena are impermanent”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha…
All conditioned phenomena are dukkha; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha…
All phenomena are without Self; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of dukkha
This is the Path to Purity.”
– Dhammapada 277-279
I suffer from a guilt-complex and a failure-complex. I always feel like I fail others and myself whenever something goes wrong in my opinion. I start feeling guilty about what I say, what I do, the fact that I cannot please everyone. I lose myself. In the book ‘Buddha…off the record” Buddhism teaches us how to be free from guilt. There are three basic values which will make us feel less guilty about things:
– Moral and righteous control of body, speech and mind.
– No financial obligation: Try to live within the boundaries of your own financial means.
– Joyful Compassion
I also feel misanthropic very often. I hate society and the people in it, while Buddhism is about compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy and equanimity. I always try not to look down upon people, nor look up to them. But when living in Western society, it is often hard to be compassionate and to not construct a notion of the Self. I often tend to look down on society and I start trying to avoid the people around me that I don’t care about. It’s not mankind I hate, but the societies we have created.
I often feel the people in this world are stupid and ignorant. The Buddha teaches us however to show compassion. If we look mindfully at these ‘stupid’ people or people for whom we feel intense hatred, we will see that they are actually suffering. They don’t see the truth in life and thus seek pleasure in perishable little pleasures, never finding real contempt. They plod on through life, not enjoying it to its fullest and they try to forget and avoid the idea of death. They try to deny the fact that death is their only goal. Showing compassion does not mean that we have to feel sorry for these people, we should not take their suffering upon our own shoulders. We just have to accept them the way they are, see that their thoughts are not the truth, show them loving kindness and we should not attach ourselves to their suffering. Whenever we see their suffering and we feel fear, we are emphatic. But when their suffering triggers a feeling of love, we are compassionate.
Avoiding them will not give us insight. Instead, when we encounter things we don’t like about society and about people in it, we can only be mindful and learn about ourselves, then accept the things for how they are and change our mindset about them. With understanding and loving kindness may even be able to do something good for the world around us! Think of all those great teachers that went before us: The Buddha, Jesus Christ, Lao Tse, etcetera. They were all in contact with actual life and society around them! They all walked among the other men and women, trying to learn from them and trying to inspire them.
Things are spiralling out of control and I need to get a grip on them. Meditation is the best way forward, combined with the reading of the Buddha’s teachings, blogging and having inspiring conversations, looking for the lessons life can teach us. It is time to understand that I cannot change the people in the world by forcing them to do things differently. I can only change the world by thinking of my own welfare and doing good for myself. Only then can I be good for others and inspire them as well with words and wisdom. As the Buddha says:
“Your own self is your own mainstay, your own guide. Therefore, watch over yourself as as a trader over a fine steed”
– Dhammapada 25
The way to a peaceful heart is not a few steps on a path, it is a lifelong journey, in which mindfulness and deep listening, listening to someone without the intent to reply but with the intent to compassionately listen, are key elements. As soon as thoughts like ‘what if’ or ‘had I only…”emerge, it means you are not dwelling in the present.
It is time to get un-stuck. I am an explorer, a scientist. I have the right mindset! Charlotte Kasl explains it in her book ‘If the Buddha got stuck”: Be present in the world, open your mind to all the small and hidden messages of mindfulness around you. As Buddhist scholar Sogyal Rinpoche explains, we are often confronted with these glimpses of mindfulness. Music, nature, sunrise, a ray of light in which particles of dust are floating around, they are all ‘flashes’ of revealing experience. They contain the nature of who we really are. We should investigate them and understand where these glimpses of mindfulness come from.
It sounds as a cliche, but life truly is what YOU make of it. So go out there and do the things that matter to you! Be free to ‘be’. That’s a true mircale , the freedom to be. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “You are free. Free to be here.” So here we go again. Some steps to take on my path, inspired by Charlotte Kasl’s book:
- Simplify. Don’t worry about things you cannot change, simplify life (actually, the song ‘Simplify‘ by the Henhouse Prowlers seems to be the soundtrack of my life)
- Don’t live large, set small goals every day and take small steps, one at a time.
- Ask friends or other dear ones for help if the going gets rough.
- Getting stuck? Get out there! Take a walk, go out for coffee, go where you want to go! You are free!
- Find healthy ways of rewarding yourself.
- Be prepared to change your goals if they are incompatible with your feelings.
- If you feel resistance, find out why you have these feelings instead of pushing them away.
In the end, by writing this blog for you I realise am still walking a middle way. The way between Buddhism and Borderline.