I’m getting ready to lead a discussion about overcoming low self-esteem. While doing research for it, I came across this short but powerful teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Loving Yourself.
Lama Zopa says, “To love oneself is not contradictory to what Mahayana Buddhism teaches. It is not saying one should not love oneself. Renouncing oneself and cherishing others is not contradictory to loving oneself. In fact, practicing the Mahayana teaching, bodhicitta, is the best way to love oneself, to take care of oneself.”
But loving oneself should not be confused with being stuck with an emotional, deluded mind. “Not having meditated enough on the mistakes of this emotional mind, one becomes its slave. Attachment becomes the guru; you listen and follow whatever it says. Since one’s definition of loving oneself is doing what attachment wants, then one is always dissatisfied, unhappy.”
Instead, Lama Zopa emphasizes the point that we must choose whether we want to follow our delusions and remain trapped in unhappiness or to renounce our self-cherishing mind and turn towards Dharma.