I once spoke about a friend of mine who grew up feeling he was entitled. His biggest childhood trauma was getting slapped once by his mother.

I have heard from people that they have a hard time when they meet people like this.  They struggle to have empathy for them. They say this is because the suffering that they, themselves, have lived and transformed has been significantly more serious.

I understand exactly what these people mean… I want to thank them for bringing up this matter.

Yes, you see, what happens is, sometimes… we tend to unconsciously see aspects of ourselves in other people. Ok?

This is interesting. This is almost like…. we hate aspects of other people that we hate about ourselves.  Right? Even if we are not aware of it.

What I am saying is that, sometimes, there is something about ourselves that we do not like. Then, when we see it in others, it bothers us.

For example, if we think we are weak, we will see weakness in other people… That is going to make us angry or anxious, or frustrated depending on our personality… It will disturb us or affect us, somehow. This is because it unsettles us. Especially if we love that other person a lot. This is because we are seeing an aspect in that person which we do not like about ourselves, but we do not want to challenge that… with ourselves.

However, with the other person, we do challenge it. It is much easier to challenge, project on, or judge other people. Of course, this is especially when we love them. Then, it affects us more. We get disturbed by it.

‘Oh, why are you doing that? You should not do that’. Yet, we know we are ourselves doing it. Do you see? In some respects, this is what happens. 

So, in some cases, for example, if you are very resilient and strong and, if you have had many intense and hard experiences throughout your lifetime, when you see other people complaining about what, from your perspective, are small things, then, perhaps, you may project something you do not like on that person.              

Let’s look at Justine Bieber.  When he went to the Great Wall of China, he had his bouncers carry him on their back up the stairs. There is a photo. I am sure it is true. I mean, he was younger. He was much younger, but I saw that photo of Justin Bieber sitting on the shoulders of two of his… bodyguards. They were like walking up the stairs of the Wall of China.

So, it is just an example, you see.  When I saw that or when anyone sees that, we think, “What a brat.” To have compassion in that situation is so difficult. We are judging. We are condemning. This is because, maybe, that is an aspect of ourselves that we do not like.

When it comes to… laziness, entitlement, we all have … a small part of that. I mean, it can be difficult to see it in ourselves.  Sometimes, we do not see it until somebody points it out to us.  Otherwise, we will not see it. That is the ego protecting itself. That is one of the mechanisms that we must be aware of.

On occasion, what happens to me… is, I see, maybe, some parents who give tremendous freedom, and power to their children. The result is that the parents cannot have a conversation with anybody. The kid is just shouting and making so much noise because he wants to be the center of attention. He will challenge anybody that comes to the house by making a racket to the point that nobody else can talk. The parents will not tell him anything when he behaves this way.

When you let the kid do everything that he wants at all times, it gets to the point where, if any little thing that the kid does not like happens, he makes a huge fuss about it. So, the parents always say YES. They are scared of the kid having a fit. Every time it gets worse.

The same goes for screens.  When you give too much screen to the kids, they become zombie-like and cranky and irritable. They do not want to listen.  So, while trying to avoid an argument with the kid by consenting to everything he wants may seem temporarily like a solution, in the long run, it is the cause for a much, much, larger problem and conflict not only for the kid but, also, for the parents. So, that is another extreme.

For example, from my point of view or perspective, because I am a very normal person and deluded in my mind, sometimes I will react thinking, ‘What a brat!’

Then, about the parents, I will be like, ‘What kind of education is this?’  I may think that way as a result of having an oriental, medieval, and very feudal education. I come from a traditional culture.

Due to that wiring, I may have a judgment towards that person. That is because, in the Tibetan culture, children respect their elders to such an extent that they do not even dare to look up into the eyes of the person who is speaking.  When the parent or the teacher speak to their kids or the disciples or the students, the children look at the floor. 

Then, immediately, I will try to take back my critical thoughts. I have no right to judge anybody. Only THEY know the circumstances, the situation… Do you see?

Possibly, the parents never had anything ever in their life.  Consequently, they want to give everything to the kid. Maybe, for them, that is the way that they are showing love to that kid. Maybe, eventually, the kid will transform. Then, he will appreciate them.  At that point, he will understand that love.

None of that is any of my business. That is their story. That is their job. That is their thing.

Even though I cannot avoid judging, at least I can be aware of what I am doing, right?  That awareness helps a lot.  Otherwise, as parents, we can pass that on… that negative mental behavior.   Abuse works that way, too. When you understand these dynamics, even just that little piece of wisdom can make a big shift.

Ok, good. So, you see,  I am trying to understand people with their first-world problems. That is why it is even more important to have compassion. Do you see? These first-world people with their first-world problems have more difficulty valuing things. This is most especially true for people who have everything; for people who have all the basic needs for a quality life;  for people who do not have to work insanely hard to get what they want. I hope you can understand this.

This is where compassion is important. If you have a compassionate heart… you will empower yourself to be able to see things more clearly… You will be able to see things as they are.

When you do not have empathy, then, we allow our mind to impose, judge, label, condition, and condemn. Our perspective and judgment will be based on that lack of true consideration for these people and the level of problems they have.

However, if we have empathy, then, … we allow ourselves to… see the situation of the other person. That is one of the steps to being a happier person. Do you see?

When we can perceive that, we are creating the cause to be happy. That is what we are all trying to find. Right?  We are trying to find happiness. 

So, when one finds that peace of mind, that inner happiness, then, you will be able to see the positive side of everybody.  You will be able to have a great perspective of everyone.  Even if someone is mean or they are a terrible person or they act badly or they have a truly negative attitude, you will be able to react favorably seeing them in a positive light. You will be able to value them as a beneficial person. By doing so, their negative attitude and actions will not harm you.  On the other hand, you will be able to see things very clearly. You will not be affected by or dragged into their drama.

Thank you. I hope that this has helped you…

4 Comments

  1. Andy Wistreich

    This is a rich, mature post. Maybe it’s the best I have read here so far. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
    I think that some of us are born with a sense of entitlement, due to our status in our past life. I think that must have been so in my own case. Once, when I was 12, one of my school teachers said to me, ‘The trouble is that you think too much of yourself.’ This brought me down so much. I felt kind of sharttered for a long time, but acutally it was one of the best teachings I ever had.
    Even when I was small, I think I believed I should be allowed to do whatever I wanted (maybe it’s normal to an extent in young kids). My mother was very strict with me, and would hit me often. When I was around 7, she accused me of being self-centred and not noticing how she needed help from me. It made me very humble towards her, afraid actually. Maybe she overdid it! But anyway, it’s helped throughout my life to curb my sense of entitlement or big-headedness.
    Among us buddhsts I think there are quite a few who had high status as practitioners or teachers in our past life in a very hierarchical culture, and now we are in a much more egailitarian culture, we have to adjust. This can take a long time, but it’s very helpful as it causes you to appreciate others more. I think this is part of the benefit of the Dharma transiting from a culture where it was very established and embedded, to one where it is an outsider at first. it’s a way of clearing out stale habits.
    Thank you, Osel-la for taking a strong leadership role in this process. For being yourself without fear. You are a good example to us.

  2. Rosalyn Williams

    Dear Osel
    I do like your last paragraph and where you talk about first world people which I interpret you to mean present generation like my grand children. Very bright having the confidence to do their own thing . One more mainstream and can fit in anywhere , the other the grandson determinedly chosen a more unconventional life.
    But I cannot see how their self identity developed whether from their experiences in this life or from a role they had in their previous life .
    Can only remember small incidents in my childhood which might indicate something . When I was very small I repeated something my mother said which was racist and cause my Uncle and Aunt to leave the house . Also

    when a bit older I shouted out something I heard ( gossip ) and it caused an upset.
    When I was very young
    my parents would say something and I wouldn’t answer and a doctor came to the house stood behind my big armchair they sat me in to test my hearing.
    and no idea what the result was.
    It’s possible It might indicate I have done a lot of memorising in a past life . But also indicates I was not very disciplined in my past life
    You do have a little character but it is difficult to see.

  3. Brian Hart

    Thank you Osel, Andy & Rosalyn all providing meaningful discussion and insights.

    But my comment is more of a guerilla attack; I always found the Dalai Lama (see short teaching extract) of relating to the actor and the action as most helpful. Have compassion for the actor, but be prepared to take appropriate counter-measure when necessary. I might be able to see the positive side of everyone but that doesn’t always assist in every circumstance. The words positive and negative are too fluid within std English language I feel, depends on your viewpoint.
    ref: https://vimeo.com/57738769 – contains the Dalai Lama speaking

    • Rosalyn Williams

      Dear Brian
      I did look at the comment HHDL made when he said even if someone tries to kill you and you have compassion for them you should still defend yourself with ( forgot his example) something heavy enough to prevent them . I don’t have compassion for everyone otherwise they would not cause me to be angry . Certain people with what seems like certain characteristics make me angry ( I guess it might be when they do not value you ) like maybe Prince Phillip – maybe it’s a class thing
      Can you really feel compassion with everyone ? That is a great step
      Love
      Ros

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