In a new column for On Being, Sharon Salzberg recounts a story that has become very famous among Western Buddhist teachers and students over the past 25 years. It is her story of asking the Dalai Lama how to work with the experience of “self-hatred,” both as students and teachers. The famous part of the story is that his Holiness couldn’t even wrap his brain around the question, either because of the intricacies of translation or because he really didn’t have any personal experience of the concept of self-hatred. The translation issue has always confused me: there are definitely words in Tibetan that mean hatred, And there are definitely words that mean inward pointing or self-oriented. So self-hatred shouldn’t be such a difficult idea to translate, at least not conceptually.
Read Sharon’s article; It’s great. I am really looking forward to Sharon being honored at the Garrison Institute benefit celebration this Friday night.
I can’t believe that self-aggression is really just a western experience, although perhaps our consumer culture takes our distaste for ourselves to new levels. What do you think? Is self-hatred a western thing or a human thing?